Module Specifications - Bill of Materials
Many companies manufacture commercial or industrial equipment. These machines typically consist of hundreds if not thousands of individual parts. In order to replace parts, or build a new machine from scratch, what is needed is a complete list of all the parts that make up the machine. We call such a list a Bill of Material (BOM).
In order to automate the creation of this list, we had to look at how human beings would specify the equipment. Typically, a person will have a small list of what we call macroscopic descriptors and their values. Examples of macroscopic descriptors would be model, size, class, frame, materials, etc; examples of values would be Model T, size 2, etc.
We start with a master list of all parts for all the equipment for which we want to generate BOMs. Then we look at all the variations of macroscopic descriptors and their values that make up the entire product line for which we want the BOMs. Then we create special access keys that tie the line item parts to a subset of descriptor/value pairs. Armed with this, we can then automate the generation of the BOMs.
How long this initial design work would take is strongly dependent on the initial data that are available. Thus we have to review each case individually. Once developed, the process can be further streamlined by storing the descriptor/value pairs by serial number.
Once developed, this BOM functionality is very powerful. Tied to order entry, you can then automate the manufacturing or ordering of parts and materials. Tied to an e-commerce site, you can automate repair parts sales for your customers, because they can generate a BOM for their equipment right over the internet, particularly if you have developed the aforementioned serial number database. Tied to inventory, and from there to purchasing and order entry, the entire sales cycle for repair parts can be automated. Thus as new parts are required, the internal work order for these are generated, the appropriate requisitions are sent to purchasing and even to your vendors, the workscopes are created and tasks scheduled, and as the material is received and the work completed, the inventory can be replenished, ready for the next order (see diagram below).
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