How to create a BOM for an electronic device or PCB card using openBoM

The days of pure mechanical products are over. With few exceptions, the majority of products today have a bunch of electronic and electromechanical components inside. As a result, BOMs no longer are a simple set of standard and engineering parts ordered or made by a shop.

Very often you have to manage multi-disciplinary BOM combined from different elements.

Many things we do in manufacturing are dependent on MCAD systems. However, we are getting many questions having to do with building a BOM for electronic components and PCBs. What’s more, we are getting questions of how to combine different BOMs together.

Most CAD integrations we’ve created thus far for openBoM are for MCAD; you can create a BOM for a PCB card and other electronics or electro-mechanical components in openBoM. The process of building an electronic BOM can start from building a part catalog (item masters). In the current version of openBoM we call it Inventory (however, we are considering to change that name because “Inventory” may be confusing).

You can create Inventories to reflect a list of all the parts you’re working on. It’s literally a list of all the parts you have (even you’re not using it BOMs). An inventory can be created manually. Or you can import an Inventory from a spreadsheet. We are developing tools to import inventories from CAD catalogs (btw, we currently support importing of parts catalog in Onshape). I’ll keep you posted on that. You can have as many inventories as you want to reflect different types of parts, location, suppliers, or whatever else you think necessary.

You can fully configure Inventories with any data (add parts, etc.) and you can do it as needed. openBoM Inventory keeps all history related to changes made by everyone in the data. The following video shows you how to import and edit an Inventory in openBOM.

The second part of the story is the BOM. A Bill of Materials uses Parts from inventories. You can create a BOM manually or import one BOM from a spreadsheet (exported from Eagle) or via CAD integration. Almost all MCAD systems are supported. We support integration with Altium Designers. We don’t yet support Eagle integration (it was not clear what happens with Eagle after the Autodesk acquisition) and we’ve also seen that Excel export/import can solve most of the import problems.

Existing gaps with Excel import (comparing to CAD integration) is related to the ability to capture changes to an existing BOM. For the moment, each import will create a new BOM. We are considering to make a product enhancement to improve this.

After you create or import a BOM, Part Numbers are used to identifying Part information from inventories and augment Inventory data (read only) in a BOM view. Now here’s the most interesting part. openBoM automatically recognizes Part Numbers from the BOM that is defined in the inventory (hint — Part Number is a mapping value) and allows you to combine them together into a single augmented view.

Watch this short video to see how Part Numbers are used to identifying Part information from an inventory assigned to the BOM and how additional inventory data is augmented to the BOM.

This simple process shows how you can use a BOM for a PCB BOM you require for that next IoT gadget.

Oleg, July 2017