Build A Better Bill Of Materials For Accurate Quotes
Posted On February 26 2018
It might seem like tedious deskwork to you, but a well-organized bill of materials can be the difference between an on-time and on-budget project and one that is, well, not. So let's keep the boss happy and brush up on how to make an excellent Bill of Materials (BOM).
Disorganized Bill of Materials are common. We get it. They aren't the highlight of your job. But, making time to really get it right will help your electronic contract manufacturer (ECM) get you what every project needs:
- Accurate prices
- Fewer mistakes
- Quicker estimates
- Quicker production
Before You Start
Before you even pull out your trusty yellow notepad and favorite pen, take note of the first two guidelines for writing a great BOM.
Choose An Editable Format
It can be as simple as Microsoft Excel or as specific as a cloud-based bill of materials software. Regardless of the software, an editable bill of materials can be easily imported into the electronic contract manufacturer's quoting system, making for a quicker, more accurate turnaround. Think about the amount of time you put into creating the bill of materials and then imagine someone else doing it again.
Of course, the chance for data entry mistakes goes up, as does the amount of time it takes to get it all entered. It's an unnecessary risk - just plan to write the bill of materials in something editable. Plus, you'll be grateful for an editable format if you yourself need to add or edit the bill of materials.
Know if Your Parts Are Obsolete
We know that sometimes things go out of production without notice. And we've all experienced how long it can take to source a part that's obsolete. Avoid this time-stealing hassle by making your parts list as up-to-date as possible. This will also lead to quicker turnaround time for your estimate.
Things Every BOM Needs
Ok. You've put that yellow notepad away and turned on your computer.
Now, let's take more room for error and guesswork out of your project. As you make your list, include the following for every entry in your BOM.
- Part numbers - Every part, every time. You know what you need. Don't risk someone else having to guess.
- Part descriptions - See above.
- Part manufacturer, if possible - This is a helpful step that, again, can save time for your project. If you have a way to know the part's manufacturer, include it.
- Part-specific specifications - If there is a specific standard or specification that the part needs to meet, definitely include it.
- Quantities - Double check your quantities. Nobody wants a project timeline held up by a missing paperclip. Each part item on the bill of materials should designate the parts needed per assembly.
Some Projects Need a Little More
In addition to the standard bill of materials guidelines above, some projects require a bit more specificity to ensure that it is quoted accurately with minimal mistakes, getting it to production quicker.
For Printed Circuit Board (PCB)
Be sure to include the reference designators. This will help your estimator double-check that everything that should be in your quote is in there. The reference designators also come in handy when your electronic contract manufacturer needs to find substitutes or crosses for unavailable parts. Plus, it's always helpful to have the ability to physically look at the board and compare to the reference designator to make sure everything fits.
For Cable Assembling
Cable assemblies often have connectors. And some connectors come with their contacts/pins and some need to be ordered separately. To be safe, include the pins on the bill of materials as a separate item, even if they do come with pins. It's infinitely better to have a bunch of extra pins than to have to wait for them to arrive.
If tooling is necessary for your project, make sure to include it on the BOM.
Keeping The Boss Happy
With multiple pages of parts, specs and instructions, mistakes do sometimes happen. Just like you, we want to minimize mistakes and the impact they make on your project and business.
At Levison Enterprises, we love on-time, on-budget projects as much as you. Stick to the guidelines above and contact Levison Enterprises with any specific questions. We will help you write a flawless bill of materials.
Because when your project stays on budget, your boss is happy.
And when it is fast and accurate, you're happy.
And when you're happy, we're happy.
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