What is a Bill of Material?

What is a BOM?
A BOM, or Bill of Materials, can best be understood by picturing a grocery shopping list. Before you go shopping, you plan out which grocery stores you will stop at to get the best deals and what you will buy at each place. Maybe you plan to stop at the farmers market for your produce, but stop at the local supermarket for your meat. A bill of materials works similarly for manufacturers by stating exactly what you will be ordering, where you will be ordering it from and how much of each product, as well as instructions for putting it together.

What to Include in a Bill of Materials
If you are creating a bill of materials for the first time, below are a list of everything that should be included.

Part Number – Every part should have a number assigned to it so parts can be identified quickly and pairs can be assigned. Make sure to avoid assigning multiple numbers to one part.

Phase – Every parts stage of life should be recorded in the bill of materials. New parts should be kept separated from older parts so that nothing is expiring prior to use.

Quantity – Have a record of the number of parts needed for the final product, which will help in the ordering process and decision making.

Unit of Measure – Indicate which unit of measure each part should be ordered in, whether that if inches, feet, ounces, pounds, etc. This is crucial for the right parts and the right amount of parts to be ordered.

Procurement Type – Keep notes on where each part will come from, whether it is off-the-shelf, ordered or specially made.

How ERP Can Help
If you make more than one product, or even a variation of one product, you will need to maintain multiple bill of materials. This can be a huge waste of time, especially when any time a part changes or a vendor changes you will need to ensure every bill of materials gets updated. If the bills of material are not updated properly, the product you are manufacturing will not be produced correctly or you will be ordering from the wrong vendors. Simply put, maintaining bills of material in an excel file is not the most efficient way to do it.

ERP is extremely helpful because it automates the bill of materials process. The bill of materials is automatically generated and maintained from within the system. This way, if changes have been made at some point to the BOM, every person within the company who needs it is using the most up to date version. Further, ERP allows you to attach important documents to the bill of materials like work instructions or CAD drawings.

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