SMT007 Magazine

SMT007-Sep2021

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SEPTEMBER 2021 I SMT007 MAGAZINE 9 possible situation—unless one finds new tools or methods. Which brings us to this issue's expedition into soware tools to assist in BOM manage- ment. ough some parts distributors have been making their stock and lead time informa- tion available through soware APIs for as long as 10 years, now virtually all the major distribu- tion houses have gotten on board in some way or another. Turns out that these APIs are just in time to help innovate some new solutions to BOM management. In this issue, we talk to two different vendors that work in the BOM man- agement ("BOM scrubbers," euphemistically) about the problems they see and their solutions to the problem. Ultimately, the goal is to pro- vide soware tools that balance component in- ventories on hand, pricing and lead times from suppliers, and technical specifications about performance and compatibility to ensure sub- stitutions still make for working boards. Of course, this issue also showcases some EMS companies who are not only evolving and innovating in the BOM space but are also building solid businesses in a post-pandemic industry. Now, back to Piper's music. e song's strat- egy is to manage all the complexity by keeping all the boyfriends' names the same: she only dates men named Dave. e need to control all the complexity is the impetus to a creative new process. Now, naming all your components "Dave" is not exactly a strategy that will work with BOM management. It's clear, however, that, in this current market climate, finding efficient ways to simplify, clarify, and reconfig- ure as needed your BOM management process- es can be critical to your continuous improve- ment programs. SMT007 ry manufacturing world. We look at questions like "Who owns the BOM?" and "What makes up a BOM?" e reality is that BOMs are oen oversimplified down to the component parts list when, in fact, a full-fledged BOM includes information on how to put the pieces togeth- er in a finished product as well. ink back to the last time you assembled flat-pack furniture, for example. e instruction sheet contained: a parts list and quantities; perhaps some nec- essary tools; safety information; and assembly steps. All these can be considered components of the BOM. e documentation is just as crit- ical as the actual components. I'm reminded of the sales pitch I hear at the stadium from the program hawkers: "ey're just a bunch of guys with numbers unless you have a pro- gram." Indeed, it's just a pile of parts in plastic baggies unless you have a set of build instruc- tions. As we set out on this topic, we suspected that BOMs and parts procurement was an ur- gent issue. When we talked to you in the in- dustry, you not only confirmed but amplified our suspicions. e semiconductor shortag- es are well-documented, even in the main- stream news, and as is the norm when de- mand far outstrips supply, we're seeing lead times and pricing on the increase. OEMs and EMS providers are scrambling to find sub- stitute parts for BOMs that have been stable and predictable heretofore. But it runs deep- er than that. It would seem, to the casual observer, to be relatively easy to swap to different components within a product line—upgrade to a higher- performance processor from the same family, for example. ey're drop-in compatible, one would think—right? Except they're not. e pinouts can be completely different between the different configurations. ose semicon- ductor companies sure don't make it easy to adapt to alternate parts, as I-Connect007 col- umnist Duane Benson points out during my in- terview with him in this issue. Fickle indeed. Finding alternate parts must seem like an im- Nolan Johnson is managing editor of SMT007 Magazine. Nolan brings 30 years of career experience focused almost entirely on electronics design and manufacturing. To contact Johnson, click here.

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