Bill of Materials and Knowledge Graphs

Manufacturing is facing challenges of transformation. It comes in variety of forms and factors- cost, competition, diversity, new generation of customers, complexity of products and supply chain networks.

On the other side, the complexity of enterprise and engineering systems such as CAD, PDM, PLM, ERP and others. It is very hard to control and manage information about product and its lifecycle because of complexity of product and change management processes.

Data was always a big deal for manufacturing companies, engineering departments and product development. Today, it is even a bigger issue because of an increased complexity of data. Companies used different technologies in the past to capture variety of data dependencies, analysis and trends.

Last years of graph database development introduced new opportunity to use Graphs as a core technology to capture data relationships and analytics. The term “knowledge graph” slowly formed as a representation of information about products, their relationships and other data.

Check some of my early articles about graphs I posted on Beyond PLM — Why PLM needs to learn about Google Knowledge Graph; PLM, Google Knowledge Graph and Future decision support.

My attention was caught by 2018: The year of enterprise knowledge graph article written by Dan McCreary. It speaks about usage of knowledge graph and integration of information coming from enterprise systems.

Now let us extend the “Knowledge graph” definition to include a large integrated enterprise-wide graph created by an organization that will serve as its centralized source of integrated knowledge and inference. We will call this an “Enterprise Knowledge Graph” or its EKG. I like the abbreviation because it will also be a signal for the heartbeat of an organization’s knowledge framework.

I feel the reason that organizations need an EKG comes from many years of working with large organizations that have hundreds or thousands of isolated “data silos”. They often try to integrate data into a “data warehouse” for doing historical data analytics, but these systems also tend to create a huge cost burden on organizations — yet another copy of the data — yet another set of expensive ETL projects that need to be maintained — and yet another copy of data that needs to be secured and audited.

At OpenBOM it makes a lot of sense for us. From the very beginning of OpenBOM, we developed integration with multiple engineering and manufacturing systems allowing to capture information about product and combined it in a cohesive graph of data about products. We call it Global BOM graph. Check our article — OpenBOM and Advantages of Global BOM graph.

Collecting information from multiple systems in OpenBOM allows us to use it for variety of needs — starting from user interface and navigation improvement and ending with machine learning and analytics. The advantages of OpenBOM graph is that it is built on top of enterprise scale graph database and also include many specific engineering and BOM information specific features allowing capturing of history of operations, revisions and direct connection to enterprise and other product information storage systems.

Our future plans to combine this incredible development and make machine learning algorithm to play with it and to enrich BOM graph with new capabilities As more data will become available for BOM knowledge graph, it will open new possibility to help engineers and manufacturing companies to solve their product development problems.


Data is a new oil. However, organized data has a huge power comparing to dead data. Many existing engineering and product development data management systems are collections of dead data helping to lock and preserve the history. While it is a very important goal, the data is not available for decision support and organization process improvement. OpenBOM opens new possibility in capturing and analyzing information about product. The future is data-driven manufacturing on a global scale.

If like the topic and interested how to make graphs to work for your organization, please reach me out — I’d be happy to share our development and ideas. Also to show how OpenBOM can help you today and what is in our plans for tomorrow.

Best, Oleg

Image credit — GDELT Global Knowledge Graph and Research about BOM analytics and visualization.

PS. Let’s get to know each other better. If you live in the Greater Boston area, I invite you for a coffee together (coffee is on me). If not nearby, let’s have a virtual coffee session — I will figure out how to send you a real coffee.

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my Beyond PLM blog and PLM Book website.

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Online tool to manage you Bill of Materials and Part Catalogs. Real-time collaboration for teams and supplier, sync data with CAD, PLM, ERP. More -