Create a BOM That Works for Everyone

January 25, 2018 Altium Designer

Electronic components on a white background

For me, socks have always been about utility: they keep my feet from getting blisters. Yet for years I have spent far too much time sorting and organizing my socks to match up the colors. Browns with browns, blues with blues, and yellows with… well, to tell the truth, I would just throw those away. Yellow socks were just too weird for me. Then one day I decided to simplify my life and I replaced all my colored socks with plain black socks. Sorting my laundry is now a breeze.

Reducing the number of things you need to pay attention to sounds like a pretty basic organizing principle. Yet in the PCB design world, we have spent years trying to manage different versions of a PCB bill of materials () like how I managed my socks. Design engineering would work with one version, which would be used to create a different version for purchasing, and then yet another version would be created for manufacturing.

These multiple versions of the would be formatted and distributed separately from each other and it was not at all unusual to have errors and mismatched data between them. Today there is a far better solution: to manage a single online for everyone, reducing the chances for mismatched data and other manual editing errors. Using PCB design software that can manage data can create an active that will satisfy the needs of all parties at once.

Create a That Works for Design

When a design engineer decides on a component for the design, that part must be available in the design tools. This means that the CAD models of the schematic symbol and PCB footprint for that part are either already available, or they can be created in the design tools. In either case, exact part information from the will aid design engineering in creating these models the CAD .

Once the CAD is completed, the components can then be used in the schematic. By having the active available to design engineers, the required components can be selected from the for instantiation on the schematic. Once the schematic is synchronized with the layout, specific can be listed by their part numbers from the for board placement. Later on, the can be used for highlighting specific during a design review.

Picture of colored socks hanging on a line

specified in a , like socks, can be managed for everyone

Create a That Works for Purchasing and Manufacturing

In the past, purchasing would receive a copy of the PCB from design that they would then update with part information from their systems. Now with the part data sources available in the PCB from design, the part information is already up-to-date. This will help purchasing to be synchronized with design so that the correct and current versions of the used in the design will be ordered.

Engineers will have immediate access to same part details such as availability, cost, and quantities to help with their part selections with their updated information. Manufacturing will also have access to the same part information from the PCB this way, allowing them to synchronize part orders with purchasing to control part inventories. It will also allow them to provide correct to the assembly line in order to prevent manufacturing delays.

Picture of  menu from Altium  

PCB Bill of materials management will give you greater control over your design

The Secret to Creating a that Works for All

The key to creating a PCB that works for all departments is to manage the bill of materials information as an active part of the design process. In the past, a would be generated by the design tools as a simple text report. This would require that the report is updated every time there was a change in the design. Often small changes or additions would be handled through manual edits which sometimes threw the report out of sync.

With the PCB managed as part of the design process, the is continually updated with any design change; a reference designator that is changed in layout will also be changed in the . In addition to selecting in the schematic or layout, components can also be selected in the . This allows the to cross-probe into the schematic or the layout from the .

Working from the as an active part of the design is an enhancement that is long overdue. Not only will your design teams benefit from the advantages that a management tool will give you, but the other departments of your company will benefit from working with the same information that you are.

With the benefits of an advanced management tool, PCB design software like Altium , will be sure to keep your designs organized and effective. Altium’s tool is more than a simple document generator, it is part of the entire unified design platform that will give you greater control over your design.

If you’re interested in learning more about how using a smart built into your PCB design software can save you time and money, try talking to an expert at Altium.

About the Author

Altium Designer

PCB Design Tools for Electronics Design and DFM. Information for EDA Leaders.

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