Your Advanced BOM Can Integrate PCB Design With Vacation Time

July 25, 2018 Altium Designer

Picture of Foosball Table in advanced bill of materials


Anyone who has ever put together a gift for their children knows the importance of quality instructions. The experience that stands out most in my mind is when I assembled a Foosball table for my children late one Christmas Eve. The pieces didn’t fit as they should, I was tired, and most frustratingly of all; some of the parts in the instructions didn’t match up with what came in the box. I was so angry at the Foosball table manufacturers and their inability to create an advanced BOM  for my needs.


In spite of those problems I did manage to assemble it, my kids loved it, and I don’t think that they ever noticed all of the errors. Loose table fittings and missing score racks are one thing on a game, but loose fittings and missing pieces in your PCBs are another problem altogether. You could be looking at lost revenue and slipped schedules, or worse; bad products that ruin your company’s credibility. You need to have confidence that the bill of materials that your PCB design tools create will do the job that they are intended to, and here are some ideas on how to accomplish that.

BOM Software that Interacts with Your PCB Design Software

One of the best ways that you can assure that you will get a quality bill of materials is to use BOM software that interacts with your PCB design tools. All PCB design tools will generate or extract a bill of materials list from their data. The key though is to use BOM software that is actually integrated into your entire design system. PCBs, after all, are moving toward assembly and components being placed, so why not have software that accounts for that goal?


Having this capability in your BOM software means that you can work with your BOM data throughout your design instead of simply using it as a report generator. You can see what parts are being used by the bill of materials list, and query those parts for vendor information. This also lends itself well to the design process for events like design reviews. With the BOM software integrated with your PCB design tools you can select parts by the BOM list and light them up in the design.


With your BOM software fully integrated with your PCB design software, you won’t have to worry that the two systems are not in synch with each other. The bill of materials will always correctly reflect what parts are actively being used in your design. Your supply chain isn’t disrupted, items are accurately displayed, components accurately ordered, and assembly can proceed without fail.


Diagram of component management system

BOM software that interacts with your entire PCB design system is a great asset

BOM Software that Connects with Your Part Vendors

Another important feature of BOM software that will help you to create a quality bill of materials report is for the BOM software to have a connection to your component vendors. When the BOM software connects via the cloud to your preferred vendors, your design staff won’t have to worry about jumping through several different hoops to make sure that the parts they want to use are approved and available. Instead they will be able to look online for the most current part data available.


This will free up your design staff from being component wranglers to devoting their time fully to being circuit designers as they should. Without a real-time connection to provide current component data, designers often will shelve the project until they get feedback or use different parts that were not the best choice for the products.


With a real-time cloud connection to their vendors though, you can be assured that the parts that are being reported in your bill of materials report are accurate, available, and have the correct pricing information associated with them. As a designer, you always have an option when moving your product into assembly and beyond: choose the tools which will help your item move into production.


Screenshot of BOM software connecting with vendors in advanced bill of materials

BOM software that connects with your part vendors will help to ensure a quality report

BOM Software that will Generate an Advanced Bill of Materials

Finally your BOM software still needs to be able to generate a bill of materials report that you can use. It needs to be able to output this information in different formats that are configurable for what your company needs. The output mechanism needs to be reliable and easily used by the design team so that they can get you the highest quality bill of materials report at the end of the design cycle, or any time in-between when you need that information.


The PCB design system that we use for this is Altium Designer from Altium. Not only does Altium Designer come complete with advanced design tools, but it also includes Active BOM; the BOM software with all of the features that we’ve been talking about here.


Does the creation of an advanced bill of materials report from BOM software that is an integral part of your PCB design system sound like a helpful solution to you? If so then Altium’s PCB design software is the answer that you are looking for. 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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