This page contains the collection of blog posts related to Learning from the past where I tried to describe the evolution how products are designed.
From the traditional drawing approach without computers to the current best practice, having a PLM-backbone for an Engineering BOM, Manufacturing BOM and Service BOM.

Many old Best Practices have become Bad Practices due to technology changes and unexpected complexity.  The post below are educative and independent of any software vendor.


Learning from the past to understand the future. The evolution of the BOM (1)

Talking about the traditional, disconnected approach between engineering and manufacturing, where “intelligent” numbers play an important role to ensure consistency as there was nog digital connection – human beings were responsible to allocate the right data.

Learning from the past to understand the future. The introduction of 3D CAD and PDM (2)

The introduction of 3D CAD-systems for the mid-market was not connected to a change in ways of working. Drawings remain the main deliverable. However, the individual CAD-files for parts and subassemblies created a new data management problem. Directory structures are not ensuring consistency. 3D CAD promotes reuse, something that was not possible in the old drawing approach.

Learning from the past to understand the future – 3D CAD-structure and BOM (3)

The 3D CAD-structure allowed companies to use this structure as a BOM. Not yet the pure EBOM as companies started to add manufacturing information to the CAD-model. Historically companies were designing their products already with manufacturing in mind – the EBOM/MBOM concept did not exist at that time.

Learning from the past to understand the future – The BOM and the configured EBOM (4)

Companies are striving for reuse. Moving from an Engineering-To-Order (ETO) to a Build-To-Order (BTO)/Configure-To-Order approach(CTO).  This can be achieved by changing the way companies design their products. Managing options and variants in the EBOM is a way to promote reuse and manage similarity.  This phase already demands an approach starting from an EBOM instead of a 3D CAD-structure. Configuration inside 3D CAD becomes a challenge to manage.

Learning from the past to understand the future – Towards a real (configured) EBOM (5)

Introducing the need for a logical portfolio definition besides the EBOM to manage the marketing view of a product that companies sell. There is a difference between the product coding and the BOM part coding needed, enabling easier versioning for digital information.

Learning from the past to understand the future – moving to the MBOM (6)

Once we have understood the relation between products and EBOMs, now we will expand to the ideal connection with ERP. Historically the (E)BOM was sent to ERP, however when companies start to work modular and require multiple manufacturing locations, the split between an EBOM and an MBOM becomes beneficial for optimal data handling

Learning from the past to understand the future – some EBOM / MBOM clarifications (7)

Having an EBOM and an MBOM might be a technology feature for your PLM-system. However, the real value only comes when companies adapt their ways of working when releasing a product. Early involvement from manufacturing engineering has a positive impact on time-to-market and the overall engineering costs. The observed challenges in the field are all related to organizational issues, not to technology issues.

Learning from the past to understand the future – ECM and CM (8)

Having data inside a PLM-system only brings value when the actual relations between products, parts, and documents (CAD /non-CAD) are consistently managed through versioning and relation management. Here we touch the domain of Configuration Management and Engineering Change Management, two areas that are crucial implementing based on cost and risk or errors.



I have written these series to provide some logic for people who are new in the PLM-world. Most of the time I am just touching the subjects, indicating lessons-learned from the field. These experiences are independent of any PLM-software. Many of my readers are in the stage of learning and where academic PLM-books might be too hard to grasp, these series are there to learn. As a PLM-coach, I am always open for questions/discussions related to PLM-practices – it is my job – feel free to contact me – email: