OpenBOM: What does it do and what’s the value? 

As you can imagine, it’s a solution targeted at the creation and dissemination of Bills of Materials, which is the list of parts that you need to make a product. From a capability perspective, it’s pretty interesting in that it connects to many different CAD solutions. When you create a 3D assembly for a product, it represents the beginnings of the Bill of Material. You can see the components that you need to buy or that you need to make internally. Once you have that, you still need to augment the Bill of Material with other items.

Some people have BOMs where they add in the labor required to assemble a product. They can include things like lubricants that aren’t necessarily a physical part of the 3D assembly. It’s not just about mechanical CAD, either. You can actually use OpenBOMs in combination with ECAD for circuit boards, and those can act as an input. You can then make changes and tweak some of the metadata around it. There’s also a great deal of information you can pull in from a part definition that has nothing to do with geometry. You can find it from other systems like quantities that you might have, so that you end up with a list of the parts needed to make the product.

So there’s OpenBOM that lets you manipulate Bills of Materials, but they also have a design-to-procure solution that kind of builds on that. Instead of manually assigning the delivery of components from different suppliers and generating a whole bunch of purchase orders, this solution helps you automate that process. Sometimes just a single product can have between 10 and 100 purchase orders, depending on how complicated it is. In the future, they’re working on having it engage certain websites. Grainger is an example, where you can submit a purchase order online and automate the whole process.

It’s a really intriguing solution. It’s very targeted, very granular. It does integrate with other solutions, particularly on the front end from a CAD perspective, but this is one of those things where having a complete integrated suite is interesting. There’s value in integration because it can automate things. It can make it easier for the user, but having a granular solution that fixes one problem and does it really well can add a lot of value in product development. That is kind of the category these two things fit into. That’s OpenBOM, and the value it brings.