Unlock the power of BOMs with PDM

Written by: Bryce Hooper, Application Engineer

SOLIDWORKS PDM gives us a whole new set of tools for Bill of Materials beyond what we’re used to in SOLIDWORKS alone. Using this tool, we have options for differing formatting, new ways to export and compare. We can even treat bills as their own entities without completely losing our parametric link between model and BOM. Let’s explore some of these options.

BOM Formatting

BOMs can have multiple formats and columns in PDM without the user creating them for each file. This is done through the PDM configuration in the Administration tool. Here we have the options to create multiple BOMs with different columns for what different individuals may want to see for different purposes. This works great for when the group responsible for ERP data entry needs more information in the BOM than the engineers would worry about.

Here our engineers are looking for file name and current state. Then, our data entry group may need Vendor and Lead time, while not needing what engineering wants to see.

Each BOM is configured separately and visibility is controlled by user and group permissions. Changing which BOM you are looking at from any you have available is quick and easy from the drop down in the top left corner. Configuring the data the right way goes a long way toward taking this information out of PDM and putting it to work.

Automated Export of BOMs

Many modern ERP/MRP systems have many ways to read data in other than manual entry. PDM Professional can help us in this endeavor using an automated task to produce XML. We can use the tools that PDM gives us to format and export the BOM that we choose as a file is released.

To do this, we configure the Export Rules. Here we define how we export by selecting location and file name, what BOM we intend to export and whether we need an alias for our PDM variables to translate to ERP variables. Alias sets can help us map variables while maintaining the freedom to name them independently in each system.

Once we have this all configured for a proper export, we need to tell PDM when to kick it off. We do this as a transition action. Now as files are pushed to the released state we can export the BOM to a location where the ERP is looking for input.

Manual Export of BOMs

Both PDM Professional and Standard give us the opportunity to export BOMs manually as well. Any BOM can be exported from the Explorer interface by selecting the file and doing a Save As on the BOM.

Here we have the option to save the BOM as a comma delimited text file (CSV). This file can be opened in Excel or used as-is depending on your needs. The resulting file will follow the format of the currently displayed BOM with an optional column for the level of the item as it would be in an indented BOM.

Named BOMs

Another option available to PDM Professional users from that same save dialog is to save BOMs as what is called a “Named BOM”. These entities function separate from the CAD model and can follow their own workflow and approval process. These can be checked out and updated manually or with a push from the model as well.

This BOM can get updates from the original source file by clicking the Refresh button next to the version. A dialog will open to select which version of the source you want to refresh from. That way you can update the BOM from released versions even while the source file has moved into new processes. Once a Named BOM is created it can be accessed by going to the parent file and selecting that BOM from the drop down or by setting Explorer in the Display menu to see Bills of Material instead of files.

Comparing BOMs

Whether we are using Named BOMs or Computed BOMs, sooner or later we may need to know what has changed over time. PDM has us covered with a tool for precisely that.

Accessed by clicking the icon with the magnifying glass on the BOM tab, we can use this tool to compare one version and/or configuration of a BOM to another. When we do, we get clear visual representation of what has changed between them. A key at the bottom tells us that new parts are identified with a green highlight. Files that have a modified quantity are noted in yellow (as seen above). Deleted files are displayed with red. The comparison BOM is also available to export to CSV.

SOLIDWORKS PDM provides many ways for engineers to have power over their BOMs.  Giving clarity to changes and communicating data seamlessly.

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2 Responses to Unlock the power of BOMs with PDM

  1. john anto says:

    This blog gives the clarity of BOMs using Solidworks PDM. This is a powerful tool for engineers, and the good thing is that it has the option to compare the versions. Thank you, Bryce, for the excellent article.

  2. This is good for those looking to expand on the use of BOMs.

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