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Forward thinkers have been advocating the single enterprise bill of material for years.2 Many enlightened companies have embraced this principle and eliminated all the non-value-added activities and their associated costs inherent in the EBOM/MBOM concept. However, new tools emerging along with ERP systems have made the ability to achieve enterprise bill of material technically feasible for most of us. The only remaining obstacle is the reluctance of key managers to avail them­selves of these tools.

The 1990s have seen the demise of most of the large mainframe com­puter systems in manufacturing and their replacement by client servers and PC-based networks. This set of tools allowed data systems to be resident in the server, and each stakeholder could access his or her data from the server. Of itself, the advent of the network/server environment did little to break down the resistance to the enterprise bill of material. It was the introduction of two new tools (see figures 4 and 5) that made the migration to the enterprise both desirable and achievable. The data vault, a repository for all files currently being used by enter­prise stakeholders, allowed for the migration of key data files from individual PCs or workstations to the server. With all the available ac­cess security systems in place today, anyone who was, for example, authorized to view a bill of material could do so, while only those few authorized could actually make changes in the data. The workflow management systems allowed for the introduction of the virtual engi­neering change document with approvals (or comments) accomplished without the necessity of printing and circulating paper documents.

An initiative called interoperability started in the Department of Defense to try to shorten the delivery cycle of new weaponry. When applied to the data vault process, interoperability has broken the shackles of our inability to have data created in separate platforms and operat­ing systems easily migrated to stakeholder outside of the initial data files. True interoperability is the ability of all stakeholders to access information from a common data source, which is stored in what is called the data vault. The operative word here is common? In this mode, the "as-something" process allows the data to be migrated from one phase to another, regardless of the platform and operating systems in­volved, providing all stakeholders with the ability to view the current (or other) phase of the bill of material, with high confidence that the data being viewed is truly the most current available. Ergo, the enter­prise bill of material.

Fortunately, software houses are becoming aware of the tremendous power of the interoperability pro­cess and are starting to offer their versions in the mar­ket today.


There will be no attempt to address the application soft­ware part of the movement to the enterprise bill of material. Our approach will be to stay with the busi­ness process. Since hardware and software are no longer the primary obstacles to achieving the enterprise bill of material, we must focus our attention on the interper­sonal aspect of getting from here there. We will pro­vide a 10-step process to achieve the enterprise bill of material.

Step 1: Understand that the objective of the engi­neering design process is to provide effective documen­tation for manufacturing.

Step 2: Manufacturing and planning people must be involved in the design process.

Step 3: Use the framework of the manufacturing bill of material (MBOM) as the tool to define the current sta­tus of the product structures.

Step 4: Use the framework of the manufacturing rout­ing and work center files to define the current status of the engineering process design.

Step 5: Start documenting the "as-planned" prod­uct definition soon after the "as-designed" is started.

Step 6: Document the design formanufacturability, correctly, as part of the "as-designed" process.

Step 7: Use the MBOM to capture, maintain, and report all bill of material-related engineering and manu­facturing information.

Step 8: Use the MBOM to capture and maintain the "as-built" configuration.

Step 9: Use the MBOM for planning and executing and providing all necessary design information for in­ternal of external (government) regulatory require­ments.

Step 10: Integrate the EBOM and MBOM into a single enterprise bill of material.


The process of moving to a single enterprise bill of ma­terial system has been progressing for years. The intro­duction of the data vault and interoperability tools has accelerated the process. It now remains only to break down the silos in the PDM and ERP communities and move into the Global Enterprise Resource Management (GERM) environment. Initially, this will provide GERM enterprises with a competitive edge. However, as we move into the next millennium, GERM will become a prerequisite for competi­tive survival.

For balance of this article, click on the below link:

Lean Manufacturing Articles and click on Series 12

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