For most individuals involved in outsourced contract manufacturing, Bill of Materials is a common term. For the few that aren’t familiar, the Bill of Materials (BOM for short) is a spreadsheet document that lists out all parts needed to complete a build and it is a major aspect of the supporting documentation needed to deliver an RFQ/RFP.
Whether you are familiar with the BOM or not, we’d like to share a few key points from the manufacturer point of view that will help you keep your project on track.
Great documentation and communication are key to keeping a project on time and on budget. Even for successful projects, program managers or the materials management team will typically ask a fair amount of questions pertaining to sourcing materials and the faster and more accurately these questions are answered, the better the solution for both sides. Providing accurate and professional documentation at the onset of project engagement can mitigate much of the excess back and forth between teams. In turn, both the timeliness and quality of solutions will improve.
It is important to comprehend how a complete documentation package should be formatted and what information it should contain. The BOM should be an MS Excel document that lists all of the bare boards, active, passive, cables, and metals required for the project. It is critical that each unique item have the manufacturing part number, the preferred manufacturer, customer part number, quantity, reference designators, description, revision level, and any additional notes you want to provide. This may seem to be an excess of information, but each piece is critical in allowing our program managers and materials teams to source alternative parts in case of shortages or find other solutions that may arise.
In addition to the Bill of Materials, the Gerber files need to be provided. The Gerber files are part of the blueprints for a bare board and are required by the bare board manufacturer. In some cases, work instructions could be customer provided, however, it is often a collaboration between both the customer and manufacturer. Additionally, we need any CAD data for programming our automated processes.
Through the entire process, you will be in contact with our program managers. They are ultimately responsible for ensuring that we understand the project requirements well enough to deliver an on-time quote. Your assigned program manager will work closely with our materials team to source the appropriate parts at the best price and most stable supplier. This underscores the importance of proper documentation in the BOM. If a substitute part with the same form, fit, and function has a better price or shorter lead time, we can seek approval to use it or alert you to the better option. We work with a list of approved suppliers that have a history of providing authentic parts while delivering components on-time.
Once the RFQ is delivered and accepted, program managers remain your point of contact and help guide you through the manufacturing process. This means that they are your primary contact for all questions and lead the internal push to make sure we deliver on-time while meeting all quality standards and requirements. Essentially, they coordinate a cross-functional team consisting of supply chain, operations, and quality professionals.
After reading this I hope that you have a bit more understanding of what goes into a good documentation package, especially the Bill of Materials. Remember that all of the documents are required for a successful project.
Check out our BOM White Paper for more information about creating a good documentation package or our Path to Partnership if you're interested in learning more about how we bring on a new customer.