You’re likely to have experience with Bill of Materials (BoMs) if the nature of your business has anything to do with product development.

Let’s talk about why bill of materials are so important, how BoMs impact business, and the best BoM management practices. Or check out another helpful article on BoM management, “How BoM Management plays a role in your PLM processes“.

The importance of bill of materials

BoMs define products as they are designed (CAD or engineering bill of materials), as they are ordered (sales bill of materials), as they are built (manufacturing bill of materials), and as they are maintained (service bill of materials).

They incorporate product information from design and engineering, document control, operations, manufacturing, purchasing, contract manufacturers, and more. Bill of materials influence inventory levels, material purchases, shop floor assemblies, and so much more.

In fact, departments often rely on BOM records to get the job done right. Whether you realize it or not, your BoMs drive and affect your businesses’ operational success. This is why it is so important that your organization creates and manages well-organized, correct and up-to-date bill of materials.

BoM information accuracy and why it matters

BoMs require complete and accurate information, in order to successfully benefit design, manufacturing, sales and service building quality products.

The accuracy of BOMs influences an organization’s ability to make well-rounded product development decisions. These decisions fundamentally impact the efforts organizations peruse to generate a product in the most efficient, cost-effective way.

Oftentimes creating BOMs requires input from design, procurement, manufacturing, and sales. Using manual methods to collect and enter items on various BoMs increases the risk of producing inaccurate, out-of-date, or even possibly duplicate BoM versions.

Furthermore, if departments produce products based on incorrect or inaccurate bills of materials, delays to market can occur. This can not only be very costly for an organization, but it oftentimes impacts an entire supply chain.

Inaccurate bills of materials are one of the costliest errors engineering companies can make. In order to avoid the risks of inaccurate BoMs, many organizations have started to reevaluate the way they create, manage, and share product information.

BoM management processes

Bills of materials (such as eBoMs, sBOMs, mBoMs) are most-likely part of your product development process. That being said, what are your current processes for managing those BoMs?

How do you share, collaborate, and ensure the accuracy of your organizations’ bills of materials? Do you find it difficult to manage the differences between them and keep the data consistent across eBOM (engineering bill of materials) and mBoMs (manufacturing bill of materials)?

Odds are if you have yet to implement technology solutions to manage your bills of materials, your methods for BoM management most likely involve spreadsheets, emails, rekeying information, and multiple other systems of communication.

If this is the case, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Studies show nearly 50% of product development companies still use spreadsheets (or sometimes even nothing at all) to manage complex bill of materials!

Despite the big workload that BoM management represents, many organizations are still comparing bills of materials in excel spreadsheets or by opening separate BoMs and manually connecting the dots. This management approach is not only tiring, but it also increases risks of human error and mistakes, especially if the bills of materials are very long.

In fact, is not unusual to find one giant excel spreadsheet on top of information managed by PLM (product lifecycle management), ERP (enterprise resource planning), CRM (customer relationship management) and other databases. Why is that? The information required to assemble bill of material documents tends to reside within separate, disconnected enterprise systems.

It’s time to change that.

Connecting business systems and information

In a world of complex, role and department-specific enterprise systems, productivity can seem quite limited. But the truth is, with the help of technology, businesses no longer need to operate this way. Collaborative solutions exist, and they really are as simple to implement as they, well… should be.

System integration tools (such as applications) change the way organizations create, manage, and share product information- without even having to upgrade or change current enterprise systems.

Using system API connections, applications can pull data from disconnected enterprise systems and consolidate it into centralized dashboard display windows. In fact, many integration applications are even ready to go straight out-of-the-box (yes, this means they require absolutely no special configurations or complicated implementation at all).

For instance, productivity apps offer simple, role-based access to data and other enterprise systems making it easier for stakeholders to view and understand consolidated product information and data. What makes simple applications that integrate enterprise data even better is the fact that most of these system collaboration tools are even affordable.

With a single view to into multiple enterprise systems (such as ALM, MRP, ERP, SLM, CRM, Accounting, and PLM) you can be sure that users have access to the latest and most accurate product information when they need it, and how they need it. There’s really no catch. Productivity apps really are solutions that are; easy, affordable, and that solve the complexity of dealing with multiple disconnected enterprise systems.

Effective BoM management & bill of materials software

Parallel to system integration apps that can pull and consolidate enterprise data, BoM applications can also automatically consolidate real-time data across enterprise systems.

This means organizations can enable real-time BoM collaboration – and that is a game changer.

Real-time BoM collaboration empowers users with capabilities to collaborate and work together creating a bill, sharing BoMs and associated data, and even preview CAD drawings and images. It also opens up the ability to simultaneously edit manufacturing bill of materials, while completely avoiding duplicate and inaccurate documents. This enables users to get a virtual ‘live view’ of data.

Users are able to maintain and manage all associated product documentation such as part datasheets, materials required, CAD drawings and files, as well as anything else that is needed to manufacture a product all in one centralized location. This reassures one sole accurate and revision-controlled bill of material for a product.

This is exactly why it is so important to establish systems and methods that enable all departments within your product development process to be able to share, collaborate, and ensure the accuracy of your bills of materials.

A simple bill of materials software

Our experts at EAC Product Development Solutions recognized the need for better BoM management within many organizations- That’s why we created our bill of materials software application, BoM Reports.

Our BoM Reports PLM application is essentially an out-of-the-box PLM system plugin. It’s easy to use, simple to integrate, and an extremely affordable for any organization.

We designed our Bill of Materials Reports application with the intention of making manufacturing bill of materials and engineering bill of materials management ‘easy’ for organizations of all sizes. Meaning- our bill of materials software can even work for small businesses!

Our BoM Reports app delivers access to your accurate bill of materials database while it provides visual representations, cost rollup for materials, and detailed informational listings of items within bill of materials.

We guarantee our BoM Reports application will enhance your bill of materials management. In fact, it has changed the way many of our customers do business.

Get More Information about EAC Productivity Apps

Our EAC Productivity app enables purchasers to see product cost roll-ups during design, so they can hit cost targets. It allows project managers to see the highest level status and availability of constituent parts so they can keep projects on time and budget. It helps fabricators see what version of parts go into the build so they can prevent scrap and rework- and SO much more!

We’re excited about how our organization is enhancing product development and we would love to share more information with you about how our EAC productivity apps really work.

If you would like more information about apps that could work for your business insert your information below. We promise not to fill up your inbox with overloads of information, we simply want to share tips, tricks, and tools that will help your organization succeed.

A field service technician is a product expert who goes on site to assess, install, repair, or troubleshoot problems. Often when a company does not use field service software, or SLM software, these technicians have a hard time troubleshooting the problem in a quick and efficient manner.
Having a Service Life Cycle Management (SLM) tool in place can help your field service department have access to the right information at the right time. Technicians have higher first-time fix-rates (FTFR) when they are dispatched with the right information and parts on the first trip, instead of discovering they did not have the information, tools, and parts required to service a product.

Most technicians use some kind of portable device whether it be a tablet, smartphone, or laptop – all of which gives them access to relevant information needed for the job. This information could include inventory, service tasks, customer history, and new product details, and it may also reference an opportunity to cross-sell or up-sell with another product or service. SLM software provides access to relevant service information and opportunities, and this minimizes downtime, increases customer satisfaction, and improves financial performance within your organization.

Tech Clarity found that top performing companies had rated their top initiatives in support of their 2017/2018 service goals in their Buyer’s Guide for Managing Service Information:

  • Get product information to the field sooner – 79%
  • Connect technical information to product support and field – 74%
  • Reduce duplication of efforts, use existing engineering – 63%
  • Streamline technician access to technical information – 63%
  • Increase the use of graphics in documentation – 58%

Having an SLM software solution can get accurate product and service information to the field efficiently and quickly, where it will provide to most value to field service technicians. Learn more about how your organization can implement a service life cycle management tool to provide value for your field service technicians here.

Service organizations typically receive recurring revenue, less fixed capital, and higher margins than strictly product-centric businesses. Aftermarket services now account for almost 24% of manufacturers’ total revenue and 40% to 80% of their total profits (Pollack, B., PTC Video: Transforming Your Service Organization with SLM (part 3 of 3)). When executed properly, after-sales service and support can provide increased revenue and invaluable customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Customer relationships are both a huge benefit and a huge risk.  Companies without a comprehensive plan to ensure high customer satisfaction often jeopardize customer relationships and risk affecting their company brand. Businesses often suffer when they overlook their role in service performance. Why focus solely on putting your product into the hands of customers? Why not also focus on service, and manage the performance of your products to ensure high customer satisfaction?

Customer Satisfaction Matters

Consumers who are willing to pay a premium for a product are looking for a company that provides the best value. If your company cannot deliver the value that your customer is willing to pay for, then you are going to disappoint that customer.

To build and maintain high customer satisfaction, companies need to look beyond traditional approaches.  It is no longer sufficient to provide good customer service by staffing a call center for customer support.  Customers need more than a call center or email.  They need their product to provide that expected value and perform well.  Businesses need to figure out how to deliver that value, maintain high product performance, and keep a happy customer.

Service as the Main Course

Viewing service as an extension of the product can help companies deliver added value and improve customer satisfaction. So what, then, is the hesitation that executives face when delivering service as a strategy in their organization?

Making strategic decisions can be challenging when confronted with numerous variables. Employing an effective service strategy can be especially challenging when organizations are divided into separate silos, with each department concerned only with its own objectives but missing the main objective: the customer.

To execute a service strategy well, companies must look to transform their current approach to service. They must optimize service performance and service functions across all departments and ensure everyone is working collaboratively to deliver a unified service experience that joins parts, product and service information, remote service, and predictive analytics that maximizes the product value to each customer.

Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) is the solution to a service transformation within an organization. SLM provides a platform to deliver on-demand parts, accurate and relevant product and service information, global remote service, and predictive analytics for maximum product performance.

The Right-Sized Service Lifecycle Management Solutions

Service excellence prepares your organization for years of satisfied customers and service related revenue streams. Don’t miss out on revenue opportunities and the chance to provide your company with a competitive advantage. Apply service as a strategy within your organization.

We have an entire team that is dedicated to helping you manage service life cycle. Check out our services here.

A customer purchased your product. Is that the end of your relationship or the beginning?

To stay competitive and keep customers satisfied, companies are finding they need to provide more value. Instead of treating a product sale as end point with a customer, successful companies are thinking about how to provide value to customers as their product is used, for as long as it is used, to maximize the value and relationship with the customer.

Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) is a way of managing the lifecycle of a product, as it is used by the customer, to maximize the value of that product. SLM gives companies a competitive advantage by perpetuating the relationship with a customer and creating value over the lifetime of the customer’s products.

SLM gives companies new ways to add value for products, such as:

  • optimizing performance with smart connected products
  • minimizing downtime with predictive analytics
  • provide access to accurate and relevant documentation, illustrations, and part lists
  • improving service response time and first-time fix rates
  • optimizing service parts availability and pricing
  • paying for product performance with product-as-a-service (PaaS) models

What is a Service Life Cycle Management (SLM) solution?

An SLM solution helps organizations deliver new value to customers by leveraging embedded software and connected systems to manage the events and performance of product being used by a customer.

Typically SLM solutions add value by reusing existing engineering and CAD data, automating accurate service and parts documentation and illustration, connecting to smart products in the field, predicting product service events and failures, and optimizing service and parts operations.

With the additional opportunity created through an SLM solution, companies gain greater insight into how products perform with customers, when products need service, and how to best service products.

How to profit from Service Life Cycle Management software

Engaging with customers beyond the point of sale opens up new opportunities for companies to provide value, and this value can be monetized into new revenue streams. Moreover, existing parts and services operations can be shifted from a cost center to a profit center by leveraging SLM and maximizing efficiency.

Smart connected products give companies new ways to provide valuable features to customers, who may opt to pay more for these benefits over non-connected products. High brand affinity is often attributed to products with accurate and relevant product and service information, which can be created efficiently and automatically. Companies can reduce service and parts costs through service optimization, and capture new revenue opportunities created by product value though PaaS offerings.

Should service companies be using PLM and SLM together?

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) is typically used to manage all stages of product development with a specific focus on engineering and product revision. PLM often helps manage a cycle of continuous improvement, whereby products are created and sold, then improved to be created and sold again. Service Lifecycle Management extends this cycle, by information about the product journey after its sale and during which a product is used by a customer.

Before SLM software existed, companies had to focus on operational efficiencies and service management as separate entities from the rest of their business. Companies can finally approach service operations as a means of collaboration between product development from PLM and product performance from SLM. Implementing PLM and SLM solutions together gives companies the power to have a complete process in how a product is made and how it is used by a customer.

Which SLM software solutions does EAC provide?

EAC Product Development Solutions has many Service Lifecycle Management solutions depending on your company’s needs. We would be happy to help you find the right-sized solution for your team. Reach out to our Director of Information Services, Mike Simon, or browse our website for more information.

Creo Illustrate

Creo Illustrate simplifies your 2D and 3D illustrations by creating them from CAD data, and it provides a wealth of features including: art styling, BOM management, illustrated parts lists, callouts, service procedures, and 3D animations.

Arbortext Editor / Styler

Arbortext Editor / Styler helps your authors create structured content and technical publications used for service procedures, illustrated parts lists, operator and service manuals, work instructions, help and training, and other technical publications based on XML standards such as DITA, S1000D, and DocBook.

Windchill Service Information Manager

Windchill Service Information Manager allows you to organize and manage service content, reuse common content, managing content translation to multiple languages, and create automated technical publications.

Windchill Service Parts

Windchill Service Parts allows you to build service bills of material and spare parts for every product configuration and enables the automated delivery of illustrated parts lists throughout the product lifecycle.

Arbortext Publishing Engine

Arbortext Publishing Engine powerfully and intelligently publishes accurate and relevant product and service information to a variety of formats including PDF, HTML, and EPUB, and can be scripted and extended to publish to other formats and systems.

Arbortext Content Delivery (formerly Windchill InService)

Arbortext Content Delivery (formerly Windchill InService) provides service teams, dealers, distributors, and customers a parts and service portal with accurate and timely product and service information in both online and offline formats. Users have access to product information and parts illustrations to help them with service procedures and order parts.

Vuforia Studio

Vuforia Studio allows you to easily create engaging AR experiences by leverage existing 3D content and connected product performance analytics, and deploy those experiences to those engaged with your connected product.

ThingWorx

ThingWorx is an industrial internet of things (IIoT) platform that allows you to build smart connected products and interact with those products with smart connected operations. Connected service with ThingWorx allows you to connect and observe product performance, enable predictive analytics, and assess service needs for optimizing product performance and first-time fix rates.

Augmented Reality (AR) uses devices such as smart glasses and phone applications to overlay digital information on the real world. The resulting experiences provide a convergence of digital and physical worlds. Isn’t this what we’ve all been waiting for? For technology to catch up with us? How did we end up here? Where did it all begin?

If you think back to your earliest introduction to Augmented Reality, what do you think of? I tend to think back to Star Trek’s holodecks – augmented facilities that characters used for recreation and for work. But the idea of bringing together virtual and physical worlds has been around for longer than you think.

The first traces of an Augmented Reality device originated in the late 1960’s by computer scientist, Ivan Sutherland, at Harvard University when he was working on what he called “the ultimate display.” The device, called the Sword of Damocles, displayed a geometric grid of graphics over the user’s view of the room. The component parts to the device were so large and heavy that it had to be mounted from the ceiling and suspended with a mechanical arm that supported the head mounted display (HMD). It wouldn’t be until many years later that AR would be introduced to mainstream media as a device that could be used in the manufacturing world.

Not unlike Steve Jobs’ idea that the individual consumer may want his or her own personal computer – working designers and engineers are implementing the individual use of AR to improve workforce efficiencies. Why might manufacturers want Augmented Reality in their hands and in the workplace? What are the benefits?

Augmented Reality helps you work a lot faster.

For Designers and Engineers, a lot of time spent on the manufacturing floor is working with the design in one work space and moving to another space to test the product. With the aid of hands-free AR devices, you’ll be spending a lot less time writing down changes. You’ll be able to make a virtual change to a design with the swipe of a finger or by the nod of your head. You will no longer have messy notepads filled with your ingenious ideas with room for error, missing notepads, or frustration with file-keeping. Your AR glasses will be able to keep up with your fast-paced mind and you’ll be redirecting your energy towards developing new products and improving existing ones.

You can use AR to provide hands-on learning for employees.

Have you ever sat in class writing or typing down all the notes you could possibly think of to ensure that you would apply those rules later while you’re in the field? I know I have. How many times have you actually looked back at those notes? Augmented Reality in the workplace gives employees an opportunity to thrive in their learning environments. Hands-on learning can result in up to a 75% retention rate. AR devices produce real-time images of physical objects with virtual work instructions that guide you while you’re on the manufacturing floor. So yes, traditional training will still be relevant – but you’ll be able to supplement your learning with hands-on experience too.

Vuforia Studio allows you to access data easily.

Vuforia Studio, a PTC Service Lifecycle Management (SLM) tool, is used to improve service, operation, engineering, and manufacturing with AR capabilities. This app is a powerful solution for creating, deploying, and consuming AR experiences within your enterprise. Vuforia Studio has an easy-to-use ‘drag and drop’ interface so that users can quickly create and share scalable AR experiences.

Augmented Reality helps to refine and optimize design in early stages of product development. Smartphones, tablets, and smart glasses can retrieve product data such as sensor readings, locations, temperatures, sales history, warranty history, and other service information. Concepts, modifications, and new ideas can be reviewed and changed quickly. 3D parts observed using a wearable augmented reality device will give designers and engineers a better visualization of a finished product. What’s the result? Rapid repetitious design cycles and the optimization of product design and development.

Solve business problems and provide competitive differentiation with Vuforia Studio – download the product brief.

If you’re interested in talking to us today about Vuforia Studio, then email us at communications@eacpds.com or call us at 1-888-225-7579.