A Catalog (formerly called a Part Catalog) is a central location for storing information about any item which may be used in a Bill of Material. Essentially anything in your company which has a part number can be an entry in a catalog. A simple catalog of skateboard parts might look like this:
The following properties are owned by the system and MUST not be deleted from the Catalog:
Quantity On Hand
Preferred Vendor (checkbox)
A Catalog can be easily updated and used (referenced) by many BOMs. Some reasons to store items in a Catalog are:
To centralize cost and pricing information
To control access to important information
To track usage and inventory levels for an item
To share catalog(s)
The types of items you may wish to keep in a catalog may include:
Fasteners and hardware
Parts and sub-assemblies
Documentation (see the sample catalog above, item #1 is a link to assembly instructions)
Labor or shipping rates
Your catalog(s) keep specific information about each item (the rows) in properties (the columns titles) which you define.
You may think about Catalogs, BOMs and Parts in the following way:
The image above shows how a single Catalog may contains contain many items (in this case the parts to make several different types of skateboards).
The Catalog contains a set of properties which are specific to those PARTs (we sometimes call it an Item) and a are more static. it is a good idea to include items with similar properties into a single Catalog since all items will get all the properties. So, a Catalog of fasteners like screws, bolts, etc makes sense. A single Catalog containing both Cooling fans and microchips might not make sense as the properties for each may be different. Put the cooling fans in one catalog and the microchips in another.
The BOM contains an instance of that Item with additional information, the most obvious is Quantity. Quantity is always specified in the BOM. The BOM may also have calculated field, Total Cost which the user may define as (Quantity X Cost) the most common.
Finally, here we have added the labor to the skateboard Catalog and brought it to our BOM 2.