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Using Platform Unification Removes Need for BOM Analysis

Created: April 24, 2018
Updated: July 25, 2020

Graphs and datasheet vector in front of computer

One of my friends laments that her husband has three versions of the same flat-head screwdriver. He doesn’t put his tools away so when he goes looking for a flat-head screwdriver, he can’t find one let alone three. Rather than spend his day looking for the lost tool, he conveniently drives to the hardware store and buys another. 

Enterprise databases are prone to the same redundancies, that’s why BOM analysis is important. Over time, designers place common discretes into their schematic. Often, the same parts from different vendors are assigned different enterprise part numbers so when drawing schematics, folks are prone to selecting different versions of the same part. 

As those design blocks are developed and drawn it is possible to place the same part under different enterprise part numbers. This leads to disorganized BOMs and purchasing departments sourcing one-offs of the same component, leading to higher costs. Without a system to remove part redundancies in PCB libraries or enterprise databases, you are leaving your purchasing and supply chain organizations at a disadvantage.

Unify Your Library and Analyze Your BOM for Redundancies

The disadvantage is exacerbated when different databases are kept across the enterprise. When the schematic software keeps a different library than the management information system data platform, it is difficult to port data consistently from department to department. This is how different enterprise part numbers are assigned to the same kinds of parts. 

It also happens when parts go obsolete and replacement parts have slightly different limits to their specifications. It is not practical to store the drop-in replacement in the same enterprise part number, so a new one is generated. Stopping to analyze legacy designs in order to consolidate and update replacement parts to remove redundancy becomes cumbersome. 

This causes redundancies and causes extra work for your purchasing department who is looking to drive cost reductions through quantity buys of parts. This is when BOM analysis becomes important:

  • To identify opportunities for arranging parts into groups 
  • To consolidate enterprise part numbers where applicable
  • To remove cost from PCB development.

 Arrows converging onto a metallic sphere
Consolidate information into one part number within the enterprise

Analyze to Group Similar Parts and to Find Alternates

Organizing a BOM into groups of similar parts clearly illustrates where there are redundancies. Taking the groups and porting them into your enterprise libraries allows other BOMs across the enterprise to be analyzed and scrubbed for redundancies. 

At this point in the analysis, alternates are discovered and arranged together with their complementary parts into one enterprise part number. Or, if there are slight differences between parts, those differences may be analyzed for applicability to the design. 

Sometimes the differences have no impact and the parts may be used in the design. Your purchasing department needs to know this when they are negotiating best pricing for building parts kits to send to the assembly house.

Elephants in a line
Keep groups together for competitive advantage

Analyzing Your BOM Drives Competitive Pricing

Once you’ve identified redundancies, your BOM analysis is completed. Parts that have long needed consolidation into one enterprise part number, or into a group of enterprise parts, are identified. Your Purchasing department now has leverage when driving bargains with distributors. It is also helpful when planning annual quantities to gain commitments from distributors to keep your funnel stocked.

Altium’s unified PCB library management environment removes the need for differing software platforms. This results in libraries with all parts located in one place. With parts located in one place, with already-assigned enterprise part numbers, circuit designers use readily-available parts when laying down their schematic. 

You prevent redundancies with this kind of unified management system of parts. And you remove the need for BOM analysis downstream of design activities because the information is accessible across the enterprise in one environment at any stage within the development environment. With realtime updates to the unified environment, the team doesn’t have to manually manage independently-kept information finding differences later.

Remove the need to analyze your BOM by adopting Altium’s unified library management system through ActiveBOM. Your BOM will be clean and elegant from its origin, and your enterprise will be able to drive bargains for supplying your stores. It’ll help your bottom line and your profit share checks will be looking good.

If you have further questions, or want to know more about the strength of being fluent in your BOM tools, talk to an expert at Altium today.

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