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Avoiding Risk with a Thorough BOM Scrub

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A BOM scrub is the act of scanning a Bill-of-Materials (BOM) to clean off any inconsistencies, errors, or potential risks. It allows program managers and purchasers to align the customer’s order with the manufacturer’s capabilities. BOM scrubbing is one of the most important processes in the contract manufacturing business, and it is essential to lean front end processing and proactivity.  

For purchasers, the purpose of a BOM scrub is to ensure every component listed in the BOM is correct, authentic, and available. Back end manufacturers could find themselves with considerable delays if a component must be reordered due to an incorrect part number. For program managers, scrubbing a BOM is done to correctly quote a job and enter it into the ERP system.

Should I use a BOM scrubbing service? 

Sure. But don't rely on it. While these services can be useful – and do have their place – it’s always best to have a BOM scrubbed in-house by someone who's in touch with your company's needs and who can communicate those needs to staff members, suppliers, and the customer.

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Part Number and Description

Check whether a part number is consistent with your numbering system. Often times, a customer will misplace a dash or provide their version of the part number. This is why it’s essential the component description is as clear and detailed as possible. If a purchasing manager needs to correct a part number, a clear description will make the process much easier. A good description should include: part type, size, SMT vs. through-hole, speed, etc. 

Mitigating Risk

While scrubbing a BOM, you need to check for the following risks: NRND, EOL, obsolete, discontinued, LTB, or counterfeit. If parts on the BOM fall into any of these categories, your ability to control cost and deliver the product on-time will be hindered.

NRND (not recommended for new design)  

EOL (end-of-life)

LTB (last-time-buy)

While BOM scrubbing services can perform these tasks for you, the results can be one-dimensional--and a service won’t offer alternatives to potentially risky parts. Also, services are not familiar with your company’s machines, delivery method, and attrition. Ideally, a BOM scrub will require the use of both a BOM management system, such as Silicon Expert, and human smarts.

Know Your Vendors

As mentioned above, finding solutions is part of scrubbing a BOM. Knowing where to seek out alternatives--and forming good relationships with those vendors--is essential. Each kind of vendor serves a specific purpose and sometimes bears a certain level of risk. Regular, certified distributors should be your first option. If the part isn’t available through a regular distributor, check with an independent distributor or a broker (in general, brokers are riskiest, though not always). At any rate, a purchasing staff will have a feel for who to seek out if a part cannot be found or must be replaced.

Duel Scrub

While a purchasing managers scrubs the BOM for safe sourcing, program managers should be scrubbing the BOM to be entered into your ERP system. PMs, too, are checking for incomplete part numbers and bad descriptions. In terms of a BOM and an ERP system, think:”Garbage in, garbage out.” Meaning, if you enter a poorly scrubbed BOM into your ERP, you’ll have major troubles down the road.

Overall, a BOM should be pretty and purchasable: all part numbers and descriptions are present and accounted for, and each part can be found and purchased long into the future.