The “BOM” Conundrum
We’ve written about it before and know what a hot-button item bill of material (BOM) concerns are when outsourcing. Let’s review a bit. If, when outsourcing, you have “mature products,” it is probable that the bill of material structure in manufacturing resource planning (MRP) is “flat,” and is not conducive to outsourcing.
The problem is that the flat format for the BOM does not identify specific sub-assemblies within the overall system that are good candidates for alternative manufacturing consideration. This must be defined, usually by engineering or manufacturing, and then broken out into a documentation package that usually includes a top-level fabrication drawing, and a BOM that contains only the content that reports to that sub-assembly. In addition, the MRP system generally requires all of this content to be identified as a “buy” versus a “make” so that the MRP does not “double dip” and buy the content both ways. All of this requires internal resources, and in many cases the decision is made to NOT commit engineering resources to mature products, thus excluding those products from outsource manufacturing consideration.
Bill of Material
If the decision to outsource only includes new product introductions (NPI), there still needs to be an effort made by engineering to structure the bill of material so that it is multi-level, and identifies content that is conducive to outsourcing. Once the sub-assemblies are identified, fabrication drawings and BOMs must be developed for each sub-assembly. The challenge is to be able to anticipate the buying power, and the level of automation that will be available at the contract manufacturer—and allow flexibility in both content and manufacturing methods. This will allow the buyer to take advantage of this competitive advantage, while still maintaining functional control over the system level configuration. Many companies who outsource for the first time are paranoid about keeping control over the system configuration, and end up imposing severe restrictions on BOM content and assembly process, thus limiting the opportunity to take advantage of the potential cost reductions available through working with a manufacturing partner.
The good news is that companies that are considering outsourcing manufacturing do not need to navigate this minefield alone! If they choose to engage with their prospective contract manufacturers early in the process, they can benefit from the guidance and experience of that contractor, and in many cases get some of this engineering work done as part of the relationship.
30 Years of Experience Makes the Difference
As a high-value manufacturing solution partner with 30 years of expertise and loyal relationships to numerous industry-leading OEMs who entrust Fourstar with their outsourcing objectives, we know a thing or two about how to effectively work through the so-called “BOM Conundrum” (flat/single-level/all-inclusive customer BOMs that were originally structured to support top-level, in-house OEM manufacture).
Fourstar continues to be confronted with a wide variety of complex challenges, and through years of success in managing OEM outsourcing has developed:
- Sharp instinct
- Ever-expanding comprehensive knowledge base
- Methodology to meet these challenges
A Closer Look
Case in point, Fourstar intently focuses on up-front design-for-manufacturing (DFM). For complex assemblies, these DFM efforts typically result in our development and documenting of separate optimized rev-controlled sub-assemblies contained within a more complex upper-level assembly, and developing a corresponding rev-controlled documentation package for the upper-level assembly into which these separate sub-assemblies are then integrated (multi-level BOMs, drawings, and manufacturing process documentation, which also captures all required tooling, visual aids, inspection points, test requirements, test programs, etc.).
This approach facilitates improved operator/inspector comprehension as it transforms what can otherwise be a very complex assembly at a higher level into manageable, easier to understand, separately manufactured, tested and inspected sub-assemblies that are ultimately integrated at a subsequent manufacturing stage to form the final assembly.
The end results:
- More efficient processing
- Substantially reduced in-process non-conformities
- Heightened overall quality
- Ultimately, a more competitive solution that you can place your trust in
No matter what state your BOMs and supporting documentation are in, rest assured that Fourstar will execute a successful launch that will meet your cost, quality, and time-to-market objectives.
To download a case study that exemplifies how this kind of partnership can work for you, click here.