openBoM fundamentals: all about Multi-level BOMs

Multi-level (or nested) BOMs usually raise many questions. So today I will take the opportunity to discuss how openBOM handles multi-level BOMs. In addition, I’ll share what multi-level related features we are still working on and what you can expect to be delivered in the near future. As I mentioned on yesterday’s blog, the simplest BOM is a list of parts. Each BOM contain [and can be assigned] Part Numbers; this is how you can identify items in openBoM.

By using Part Numbers in a BOM you can connect multiple BOMs together (nested levels) and it allows you to define multi-level BOM model.

Let me know shift to Multi-level BOM navigation. The simplest, but probably not the most useful navigation of a multi-level BOM is using the “Composed of” button in a BOM view. By clicking this button, you will navigate to the lower level BOM of a selected Part (if that Part happens to be assigned to a separate BOM). Otherwise, a “No nested BOM” message will appear. Our navigation to an upper level BOM is not useful at the moment; we are working on how to improve.

The Multi-level BOM view is a separate view available today as a Dashboard icon.

Although a separate view from the default single level BOM view, we are planning to improve this with future releases where single and multi-level views will be better integrated and easier to navigate. With a multi-level BOM view, you can navigate between branches designated with a “+” in front of a number on the far left of the BOM. Note: Currently only one branch can be opened at a time.

Also, and important to mention, when you first open a multi-level BOM view, you will see configuration screen.

The configuration screen allows you to select the attributes (properties) which will be visible in the grid (other properties will be visible in info panel on the right).

Each separate BOM level in openBOM can have a slightly different set of attributes as when there’s a combination of multidisciplinary BOMs, e.g., mechanical, electrical, PCB and even software. A multi-level BOM view will provide a unified view of all data with consistent set of attributes.

Here are very simple examples illustrating the two methods for creating a multi-level BOM. (1) By using Part Numbers via a few manual steps:

And (2), generating a multi-level BOM from a CAD system:

Only the Onshape integrated openBOM app can generate a multi-level BOM at the moment. Our plug-ins for other CAD systems will gradually be updated later this year to support true multi-level BOM generation and viewing.

Conclusion. openBOM provides both single-level and multi-level BOM options. Although not perfect, we are working hard, with your help, to improve our handling of multi-level BOMs. Please let me know what multi-level BOM features we lack; we will work hard to add them.

Best, Oleg

PS. We should know each other better. If you live in a Greater Boston, please let’s have a meeting (coffee is on me). If you’re located in other places, let’s have a virtual coffee session — I will figure out how to send you a real coffee for our virtual coffee session.