In manufacturing, a Bill of Materials is essential — and inaccuracies can have a huge impact on your overall output and efficiencies. In this blog post, I will discuss just how substantial these impacts can be, as well as how you can avoid them.
What is a Bill of Materials?
In manufacturing, a Bill of Materials is essentially a recipe for making a particular product. It meticulously details each of the parts and items needed to manufacture an item, as well as their associated assemblies and sub-assemblies.
Not only does it act as a list of parts, it informs manufacturers where and how to purchase the raw materials and parts required to take the item from production to finished product.
Just like a cake with too much sugar would taste too sweet, an incorrect Bill of Materials could result in the end product being incorrect — increasing the waste and associated costs for you, the manufacturer.
Common Bill of Materials errors
As your supply chain expands and production processes become more complicated, the Bill of Materials becomes more vulnerable. In essence, there is more room for error — unless you have the correct precautions in place.
Overall, there are three main types of errors that can significantly impact the reliability — and indeed functionality — of your Bill of Materials. These include:
One major cause of problems is an incomplete Bill of Materials. Your BoM outlines exactly what is needed to create a particular item; if your team of manufacturers don’t know what they need, how can you ever expect the end-product to meet the brief? This problem can impact manufacturers of all sizes, especially those whose production spans multiple large departments.
Missing data can include quantities, part descriptions and, perhaps most commonly, an approved manufacturers list. This type of inaccuracy will inevitably slow the production process — so it’s in every manufacturer’s best interest to prevent this type of problem from occurring.
As you’ll understand, streamlined communication is important for manufacturers to ensure everyone is working towards the same goal. International manufacturers, for example, face the challenge of a language barrier when working across markets. Likewise, consistency across formats and different internal documents can also be problematic.
Of course, human error can also play a part in the inaccuracies that may arise within a Bill of Materials. This can include, but isn’t limited to, incorrect manufacturer or supplier information, or the manufacturer parts number (MPN).
Often, these errors can result from manual data entry, caused by a reliance on non-automated systems such as spreadsheets or manually entering data from a physical copy into a digital system.
How to eliminate errors from your Bill of Materials
Now you understand the different types of errors, how do you eliminate them from your Bill of Materials? Consider the following:
Squash the spreadsheets
We’ve been saying it for years yet some of you still haven’t taken heed of our warnings. Your spreadsheet systems are failing you — and are the gateway for errors to enter your Bill of Materials. Reduce the manual effort required with an ERP system.
Our K8 Manufacturing ERP software includes a specific Bill of Materials module which, unlike your current spreadsheet, will help to drive productivity and efficiency in production. Essentially, you can streamline how your Bill of Materials is formulated and effectively manage and track its evolution over time. The result is unparalleled visibility that helps drive forward production.
Unify your BoM
Issues can arise if more than one Bill of Materials is allowed to exist at any one time. This is especially problematic if it will be emailed between departments, for example, which could lead to an incorrect version being used. Ultimately, this could impact what is produced and potentially lead to loss.
Our Bill of Materials module allows you to update the Bill of Materials for in-progress work orders with a new specification, without the need to create a new BoM. Each change made is tracked in a historical audit trail, so you have full visibility of the impact each has on assembly.
Keep it consistent
By using one centralised system, K8 Manufacturing ensures consistency throughout production. Unlike other systems, our module creates a comprehensive list of instructions for every process, remaining in the same format regardless of the changes that are made. This eases the pressure on staff, as they know what to expect every single time.