If a bottom-level BOM is updated,
some companies update all BOM
levels above it, so that everything
reflects the latest revision date, even
though most components may not
change. Other companies update
the BOM level only if changes are required. Whatever the method, making those changes in an established,
documented process is critical.
From a data management perspective, software can now automate what
was once a tedious, time-consuming,
error-prone task of updating BOMs.
Depending on the software platforms
the fabricator uses, the communication between CAD and ERP can occur
via a direct CAD plug-in or a simple export function.
After someone creates an ECN in
the ERP system, that person can copy
the BOM from the previous version to
the new revision. When the new data
from CAD comes into the ERP system,
two BOMs appear on the ERP screen
side by side, one before the revision
and one after.
Different elements are highlighted in specific colors that show the
changes the revision in CAD made to
the BOM. The colors represent the
kind of change made: a quantity or
description change is, say, orange;
removing an element from the CAD
model is blue; adding a component to
CAD is purple; and so on. The update
happens immediately, no keying in required. This verification step can help
when planning production to make
sure everyone has what they need for
the job to flow smoothly, from the receiving dock to the shipping dock.
It Starts With the Drawing
Designing in CAD and the BOM creation
in the ERP are separate processes, and
for good reason. The two systems
should not communicate constantly.
After all, you wouldn’t want a BOM to
update every time an engineer makes
a change to the CAD file.
The flow of information needs to
be controlled by the established ECN
process. Once the engineer is finished
with all design changes, that person
can initiate the export of information
to the BOM in the ERP.
The flow of information occurs in
one direction, from CAD to ERP, not
vice versa. It isn’t a two-way street.
This lessens the chance for errors and
ensures that the solid model remains
the “one version of the truth” for a job. Those drawings are
the lifeblood of a manufacturing operation. If someone
makes a change in the ERP system and not in the CAD file,
which is the controlling data set?
If a drawing doesn’t match the information that’s going
out to the shop floor, troubles arise. This ultimately leads
to “knowledge silos” in which certain departments get a
job done a certain way that’s not documented or based on
the drawing. This in turn builds tribal knowledge, which
isn’t sustainable in the long term.
How CAD Integration Works
When everyone on the shop floor has instant access to the
latest BOM, and when the ECN process becomes paperless,
the human error associated with paper documents and
manual data entry goes away. It eliminates the time and
cost of having engineers sort through the paperwork to
identify the mistake. Orders move through the shop floor
quicker and more smoothly. Keeping the BOMs accurate
and current helps avoid material processing errors. And