Where do you manage your Spare Part BOM?
As a manufacturer, if you are designing your products and are engaged in after-sales and service activities, you also need to manage your Service or Spare Part BOM properly after the customer delivery of your product.
This article discusses managing your Spare Part BOM, also known as Service BOM or SBOM, starting from your Engineering BOM in CAD and through your Manufacturing BOM in your ERP system (with an example in Microsoft Dynamics Business Central ERP, integrated to SOLIDWORKS CAD with the CUSTOMTOOLS add-in)
EBOM vs. MBOM vs. SBOM
If you are designing your own products in CAD, that is also where you usually manage your EBOM (Engineering Bill Of Material). Additionally, you might be utilizing a PDM system for this purpose.
If you are also manufacturing the products which you design, your EBOM often evolves into an MBOM (Manufacturing Bill Of Material). Usually, the MBOM is managed in an ERP system, but there are also more specialized systems.
But where do you manage your Spare Parts or Service BOM (=SBOM)? I don’t think there is a standard answer for this, but we’ll give you some ideas in this article.
Bear in mind, you should base your MBOM and SBOM on the EBOM, but it should NOT be an exact copy. Re-use the EBOM information as much as possible and start capturing relevant data early in the design process.
- EBOM != MBOM or SBOM, but re-use EBOM if you have it
- MBOM == EBOM + manufacturing documents, raw materials, production routings etc.
- SBOM == EBOM + maintenance instructions, service materials (consumables) + spare part pricing and availability (stock)
Manage the SBOM in an Excel file
I think the most obvious way to manage your SBOM is to do it in everyone’s favorite Office tool: Excel. And if you are managing your EBOM already in CAD or PDM, it is usually quite straightforward to just export that into an excel file.
So use the EBOM as a basis for building your SBOM. Export or copy it to Excel, and then add the information which is relevant for your after-sales operations. You can add information such as spare part pricing, availability and maybe link needed maintenance and service documentation to the BOM.
The key to re-using the EBOM is to involve your design department in gathering relevant data for your SBOM early on in the process.
A SOLIDWORKS add-in like CUSTOMTOOLS can help your designers gather the data during the design process. For example, it is fast to set up a checkbox control, which is easy and intuitive to use for SOLIDWORKS designers. You can also use a PDM system to help manage the relevant properties.
Additionally, you can set these properties as mandatory, link them up together, and fill up and calculate property values automatically even, if needed.
As you then export to Excel or some of the other supported 3rd party systems, you can bring along selected custom property information, which is relevant for your after-sales or service process.
The challenge with this approach is that people outside of your design department (e.g., your field services or after-sales department) usually don’t have access to your CAD and PDM systems, so they have to fully rely on the Excel files you provide them and make sure they are working on the most recent versions of the files.
Manage the SBOM in an ERP system
Most companies use an ERP system for managing the MBOM (Manufacturing). Some ERP systems can be used for SBOM management as well.
As ERP is a sales tool, it will be used by the after-sales department to manage the spare part price lists. Some ERP systems also have functionalities for managing the SBOM, e.g., Microsoft Dynamics Business Central has the concept of Service Items and Service Item Groups, which could be used for SBOM management up to a certain degree.
You can re-use your EBOM again here by doing a .csv export from your CAD/PDM and importing it into your ERP. Or using a more sophisticated integration solution like CUSTOMTOOLS for two-way linking of your Items and BOMs between CAD/PDM and ERP.
The challenges with managing your SBOM in your ERP system might be:
- limited access: even though internally, most of your departments should have easy access to your ERP, how about outside the company? Your customers, distributors, and other partners?
- limited functionality: the ERP system might lack functions for managing some aspects of the SBOM, like incorporating service protocols and instructions
PLM systems for managing SBOMs
The third option for managing the SBOM is using PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) systems, such as 3DEXPERIENCE or ENOVIA from Dassault Systemes, or Windchill from PTC, as well as Teamcenter from Siemens.
Here are some examples for further studies, which are not covered in this article:
The shortcomings or challenges of managing the SBOM in a PLM system are:
- PLM system implementation costs are usually quite high and usually only an option for bigger companies
- Maybe, the PLM system is also more or less a tool used by the engineering department, and other departments don’t feel so much “at home” in these systems (as compared to an ERP system)
Manage the SBOM in CT PUBLISHER
One more option is to use our very own CT PUBLISHER after-sales platform for managing the SBOM.
We can use either the EBOM from CAD/PDM directly or the MBOM from ERP with CT PUBLISHER. And actually mix-and-match both, as we have relevant information to build the SBOM in both systems (CAD and ERP).
With the Editor, the built-in BOM management tool, we can not only add spare part information for the webshop into the SBOM but also relevant information such as:
- stock and availability information
- documentation, instructions, and service manuals
- links to external resources and video material which are important for maintenance operations
- check-lists and forms for guiding the operations and capturing data during the maintenance process
(ps. this article is written based on my recent webinar, which you can also watch here: https://youtu.be/NvBQu4zlooY)
How can I get started?
If you would like to find out how the CT PUBLISHER platform, combined with your SOLIDWORKS designs and metadata, could help you better manage your Spare Part Bills of Materials, we recommend that you schedule your very own demo with us today!
olli (@) ctpublisher.com
+358 407 784 386