The Problem with Internal BOM Monitoring

By Logan Wamsley

A common attitude taken by many manufacturers is one of absolute control. This is understandable for many aspects of the manufacturing process; after all, third-party inefficiencies are one of the most common causes of supply chain disruption, such as when raw material shipments are lost or delayed, or when a contract manufacturer fails to meet their order. However, this does not hold true for every aspect of a product’s lifecycle. For bill of material monitoring and determining if a critical component is approaching obsolescence or going on allocation, when managed internally, significant time, money, and resources are required – oftentimes in the form of an entire team of people gathering the information needed for decision making. By leveraging the expertise of third parties, there are several inherent issues involved that could be avoided.

Big Data Investment and Analysis

One such issue is the Big Data required to give an electronic component the correct lifecycle status designation. Not only is access to such data an expensive investment that many OEMs simply cannot afford upfront, but the vast majority of such data is unstructured. Without a platform to synthesize the data and organize it for appropriate analysis, it is virtually impossible for a BOM manager to draw any accurate conclusions.

PCN Tracking

Another common issue is keeping track of the issuance of PCNs. PCNs have no industry standard and are only issued for components approaching obsolescence about 40% of the time — and even then there is a significant possibility that PCNs will get lost in an inbox or seen by the wrong individual. A proper obsolescence management strategy involves tracking all relevant PCNs across the marketplace. Relying solely on PCNs seen in-house exposes your supply chain to significant disruption.

Part Status Confirmation

Once a component is designated as approaching obsolescence, there is then the issue of confirming the component’s lifecycle with the manufacturer. This is a necessary step to ensure that the OEM does not make a costly supply chain decision needlessly, but takes substantial time and resources to do thoroughly.

Part Sourcing Options

When a part goes end-of-life and a replacement part is needed, an internal BOM monitoring system limits the view of the electronic component marketplace to the OEM’s seller network. Typically, this is a limited selection and is far from representative of the full market. Without access to all of the major distributors and a platform capable of scanning the market in real time, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to guarantee you are making the best possible supply chain decision for your organization.

The Partstat BOM Monitoring Solution

In many regards, Partstat BOM Monitoring was designed specifically to alleviate all of the issues involved with keeping BOM monitoring in-house. Each Partstat BOM Monitoring customer gets full, unrestricted access to over 50 billion points of Big Data from thousands of manufacturers and suppliers, all of which is used to automatically analyze your bill of material to give you the most up-to-date, accurate lifecycle status information in the industry. If we cannot identify a part included on a customer’s bill of material upon upload to our system, our team of BOM Specialists get to work immediately to find out why. They collaborate with the component manufacturer and customer to find out what the exact part number is so that it can be monitored.

The human element is one of the most distinguishing features of our solution. Not only do we receive data from lifecycle engines to give you instant notification when a PCN is issued, but we also provide the critical human element by confirming part lifecycles with manufacturers on the customer’s behalf. When a part is flagged end-of-life, Partstat BOM Specialists provide suggested replacements and crosses. Furthermore, our team of BOM Specialists is available to answer any and all questions about lifecycle statuses or anything else you might need, whenever needed, in real-time.

Although third-party BOM monitoring can and should be looked at as an investment, considering the alternative, it is one well worth making in order to set your organization up to succeed in a competitive market.