Composer for All Your BOMs

With so many different perspectives on the BOM in today’s organizations, companies have come to expect that different departments will be creating and re-creating content to describe their products.  Some will do it with Microsoft Excel, some with Microsoft Word, others with Adobe Illustrator, and others still with an alternative CAD package like AutoCAD.  With new tools like 3DVIA Composer, all of this extra effort can be saved.  Once metadata is stored in a set of CAD files, 3DVIA Composer lets users slice and dice the content and BOM information in whatever way is relevant for a particular audience, with full associativity for downstream changes.  Setting xBOM management in PDM aside, let’s look at how 3DVIA Composer can present very different views of a product’s BOM, visually. 

For our example, we’ll use a paint power sprayer, a fairly mature consumer product.  The engineering design is somewhat involved with electrical parts, mechanical parts, and some power transmission and fluidic parts as well.  Since final assembly of our fictional product is performed in a number of global locations (closest to the markets they serve), manufacturing assembly instructions are an important element of the product’s definition.  Given that the product has a moderately high price and is considered an investment for many buyers, Marketing has developed offers for accessories and optional kits with the product.  And again, due to the relatively high cost of the item, it is serviceable at independent authorized repair facilities.  In a situation like this, we have BOMs for: Engineering, Manufacturing, Marketing/Sales, and Service.  Let’s see how 3DVIA Composer can help generate and maintain those with minimal additional effort.

First, the Engineering BOM, or EBOM, can be generated straight out of the CAD tool, in this case SolidWorks.  3DVIA Composer could also be used to create the EBOM, but typically the EBOM isn’t very much trouble for the CAD designer, and the Engineering department is typically pretty fluent in use of the CAD system anyway.  The EBOM and associated pictorial view might look something like this (note the large number of components and the indented structure of this BOM):

From the EBOM, the organization needs to create one or more Manufacturing BOMs (MBOMs) to represent how the part comes together from raw materials and purchased components.  Although the MBOM could be a single list for the entire product, more often there are multiple smaller MBOMs, each associated with specific manufacturing steps.  The product assembler only needs to know the components required to perform their particular step in the overall assembly procedure, so it makes sense to keep things simple and only show/list the relevant components for that step.  The MBOM that’s relevant for the manufacturing step when the handle and motor are assembled into the sprayer body is shown below.  Note the abbreviated list of components and how the BOM ID is associated with the balloons shown in the pictorial view.

The next relevant BOM is the Marketing or Sales BOM.  Frequently, the Marketing team will want to show pictures or renderings of the product for retail signage, and in this case, they’re showing alternate/optional parts.  Note that these parts weren’t all shown in the original EBOM, but because they exist as 3D content with metadata, they can be exposed associatively in 3DVIA Composer.  Also note the new column relevant only for a Sales BOM – SKU.

The last BOM is the Service BOM, used in the Service & Repair Manual provided by the manufacturer to authorized service centers.  This BOM includes a listing of the replacement parts and kits that can be purchased for fixing and refurbishing paint sprayers.  Again, this information isn’t necessarily in the EBOM, nor does it match the Sales BOM, but the appropriate metadata is there because it was stored in the 3D content.

If you’re a veteran PDM system user, this may all seem trivial given how many PDM systems can maintain xBOM data, or at least can maintain multiple BOMs.  The real trick here is that 3DVIA Composer ties these various BOM views back to graphics and pictorial views of the product.  Not only is the data associative, but different departments within the company are able to repurpose the 3D content in ways that let them quickly create their own visual BOMs – without redrawing or recreating everything from scratch.

Suppose the shape and part number of the fluid container changes.  What could take each department hours of effort (and days of calendar time) to update, can be done in less than five minutes in 3DVIA Composer.  So not only can Composer help generate visual xBOMs, but it can also maintain them more quickly and easily than legacy methods, because the data is associative. That doesn’t mean that PDM isn’t helpful for keeping all of this xBOM information straight and for maintaining and linking versions of Composer data relative to source CAD data.  But take note that 3DVIA Composer is offering something new and different – an association between graphical information and metadata that enables the easy creation and modification of visual xBOMs.

If you have 3DVIA Composer needs, or are wondering how the tool might fit into your product documentation processes, please contact us.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 at 9:39 pm and is filed under Industry Insider, Technical Publishing, 3DVIA Composer. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.