Designing to Meet a Target BOM Price per Unit

April 18, 2018 Altium Designer

Image of rock & roll band

The other day I was talking to a guy that used to play in different rock bands when he was younger and he told me of one gig where the stage was about 5 feet square - it wasn’t even big enough for their drum set. More detailed information up front, like with BOM prices, would have saved them a lot of frustration and wasted travel time. The establishment demanded that everything had to be on the stage which would never work. 

How many times have you gone through something similar when choosing component? You may be relying on outdated BOM prices from vendors that you’ve used in the past, or you may be trusting that everything will work out for the best. Often, our hopes are dashed when it comes to paying the bill and the price that we expected for our PCB components is significantly different. As my kids have often said sarcastically to me; “how’s that workin’ out for you?” 

Fortunately, there’s help in the form of bill of material management tools built right into PCB design software that can save you from these kinds of headaches. These tools offer cloud connections to your component vendors allowing you to design for your target BOM price at the beginning of the design instead of being surprised by the check after you are ready to go to production. 

Cloud Connections with Your Component Vendors

As you know, designing circuitry can be an adventure in frustration. Engineering gets frustrated because they can’t get the parts that they want and they end up redesigning their circuitry to align with purchasing. Purchasing gets frustrated because their recommended parts are being ignored and they have to insist on changes to align with approved vendors and parts that are available and cost-effective. And don’t even get started on manufacturing this debacle. 

With the cloud connection to approved vendors provided by the bill of materials management tools, a lot of this frustration can be eliminated. Engineers can make educated part choices with current component information while they are designing their circuits. Here are some of the benefits that you can expect from having a connection like this: 

  • Price: Get the latest information on price to make sure that the parts that you are using will cost what you expect them too.

  • Availability: Make sure that the parts that you use in your design will actually be available for ordering.

  • Data: Get instant part information for detailed component and CAD data.

Screenshot of AD18  menu

tools allow you to make educated decisions about which components to use

Design for the Target BOM Price Instead of Being Surprised

If you haven’t had much experience in designing PCBs that have tight profit margins, it can be a real eye-opener. You may be used to creating prototypes, limited production runs, or unique application-specific boards where component pricing may not have been one of the primary concerns. When you start designing with price as a major consideration, you will find that saving a penny on every component will add up to important cost savings. 

Having the current component price available to you with the BOM management tools is an invaluable aid to cutting component costs on your final design. Being able to see the current costs of your components from your different approved manufacturers, as well as component alternatives, allow you to make circuit creation decisions that may ultimately reduce costs. 

With BOM management tools available to you as you work, the tough job of designing your circuits in order to get the best component balance between performance and BOM price becomes a lot easier.

Screenshot of AD18 schematic and  together tools are another gateway into your design interfacing with the schematic

BOM Tools at Your Fingertips in Your PCB Design Tools

The key to this level of help, where component information is available to you while you design your schematic, is in using BOM management tools from within your PCB design. You no longer will have to wait while someone else in another department researches your parts for you. You no longer have to come up with heroic last-minute redesigns when purchasing tells you that they can’t get the parts that you were expecting to use. 

Go through your BOM management tools and access complete component information on the parts that you want to use. The more details that you can get up front on the components that you are working with will help you to complete the design knowing that the parts you are using are the best choices. 

PCB design software, like Altium Designer, has the bill of materials management tools that we have been talking about here. Active BOM is much more than a simple report generator, it is another interface into your design that allows you to research, organize, and report on the active components that you are working with. As one of the tools within Altium Designer, it is also part of the entire unified design platform giving you more control and accessibility with your design. 

Find out more information by 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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