The importance of EBOM and MBOM in PLM (reprise) (2023)

The importance of EBOM and MBOM in PLM (reprise) (1)I promised to write some more down-to-earth post this year related to current PLM practices. If you are eager for my ideas for the PLM future, come to PI PLMx in London on Feb 4th and 5th. Or later when reading the upcoming summary: The Weekend after PI PLMx London 2019.

ECO/ECR for Dummies was the most active post over the past five years. BOM-related posts, mainly related to the MBOM are second: Where is the MBOM? (2007) or The Importance of a PLM data model: EBOM – MBOM (2015) are the most popular posts.

In this post, an update related to current BOM practices. For most companies, their current focus while moving from CAD-centric to Item-centric.


The EBOM (Engineering BOM) is a structure that reflects the engineering definition of a product, constructed using assemblies (functional groups of information) and parts (mechanical/electrical or software builds – specified by various specifications: 3D CAD, 2D CAD / Schematics or specifications). The EBOM reflects the full definition from a product how it should appear in the real-world and is used inside an organization to align information coming from different disciplines.

The importance of EBOM and MBOM in PLM (reprise) (2)

(Video) Varieties of Bill of Material (BOM) – PLM Talk With SteepGraph

Note: This differs from the past, where initially the EBOM often was considered as a structure derived from the Mechanical Part definition.

The MBOM (Manufacturing BOM) is a structure that reflects the way the product is manufactured. The levels in the MBOM reflect the processing steps needed to build the product. Here based on the same EBOM different MBOMs can exist, as a company might decide that in one of their manufacturing plants they only assemble the product, wherein another plant they have tools to manufacture some of the parts themselves, therefore the MBOM will be different. See the example below:The importance of EBOM and MBOM in PLM (reprise) (3)In case your company delivers products to their customers, either in a B2B or B2C model, the communication towards the customer is based on a product ID, which could be the customer part number (in case of B2B) or a catalog part number. The EBOM/MBOM for this product might evolve over time as long as the product specifications remain the same and are met.

Does every company need an EBOM and MBOM?

Historically most companies have worked with a single BOM definition, due to the following reasons:

  • In an Engineering-To-Order process or Build-to-Print process the company the target is to manufacture a product at a single site – Most of the time one product for ETO or one definition to many products in BTP. This means the BOM definition is already done with manufacturing resources and suppliers in mind.
  • The PLM (or PDM) system only contained the engineering definition. Manufacturing engineers build the manufacturing definition manually in the local ERP-system by typing part numbers again and structuring the BOM according to the manufacturing process for that plant.

Where the first point makes sense, there might be still situations where a separate EBOM and MBOM is beneficial. Most of the time when the Build To Print activity is long-lasting and allows the company to optimize the manufacturing process without affecting the engineering definition.

The second point is describing a situation you will find at many companies as historically the ERP-system was the only enterprise IT-systems and here part numbers were registered.

(Video) Profiting from PLM: Item and BOM Management

Creating a PLM-ERP connection is usually the last activity a company does. First, optimize the silos and then think about how to connect them (unfortunate). The different structures on the left and right lead to a lot of complex programming by services-eager PLM implementers.The importance of EBOM and MBOM in PLM (reprise) (4)Meanwhile, PLM-systems have evolved in the past 15 years, and a full BOM-centric approach from EBOM to MBOM is supported although every PLM vendor will have its own way of solving digital connectivity between BOM-items.The importance of EBOM and MBOM in PLM (reprise) (5)You should consider an EBOM / MBOM approach in the following situations:

  • In case you have a modular product the definition of the EBOM and MBOM can be managed at the module As modules might be manufactured at different locations, only the MBOM of the module may vary per plant. Therefore, fewer dependencies on the EBOM or the total EBOM of a product.
  • In case a company has multiple manufacturing plants or is aiming to outsource manufacturing, the PLM-system is the only central place where all product knowledge can reside and pushed to the local ERPs when needed for potential localization. Localization means for me, using parts that are sourced in the region, still based on the part specification coming from the EBOM.The importance of EBOM and MBOM in PLM (reprise) (6)

Are EBOM and MBOM parts different?

There is no real academic answer to this question. Let’s see some of the options, and you can decide yourself.

An EBOM part is specified by documents – this can be a document, a 3D model combined with 2D drawings or a 3D annotated model. In case this EBOM part is a standard part, the specification may come from a part manufacturer through their catalog.

As this part manufacturer will not be the only one manufacturing the standard part, you will see that this EBOM-part has potentially several MBOM-parts to be resolved when manufacturing is planned. The terms Approved Manufacturing List (AML) – defined by Engineering and Approved Vendor List (AVL) – based on the AML but controlled by purchasing apply here.The importance of EBOM and MBOM in PLM (reprise) (7)Now the case that the EBOM-part is not a standard part. In that case, there are two options:

  • The EBOM-part holds only the specifications and the EBOM-part will be linked to one or more MBOM-parts (depending on manufacturing locations). In case the part is outsourced, your company might not even be interested in the MBOM-part as it is up to the supplier to manufacture it according to specifications
  • The EBOM-part describes a specification but does not exist as such individuals. For example, 1.2-meter hydraulic tube, or the part should be painted (not specified in the EBOM with quantity) or cut out of steel with a certain thickness. In the MBOM you would find the materials in detailed sizes and related operations.

Do we need an EBOM and MBOM structure?

In the traditional PLM implementations, we often see the evolution of BOM-like structures along the enterprise: Concept-BOM, Engineering BOM, Manufacturing BOM, Service BOM, and others. Each structure could consist of individual objects in the PLM-system. This is an easy to understand approach, where the challenge is to keep these structures up-to-date and synced with the right information.

(Video) Why engineering and manufacturing are using separate BOMs?

See below an old image from Dassault Systemes ENOVIA in 2014:The importance of EBOM and MBOM in PLM (reprise) (8)

Another more granular approach is to have connected data sets that all have their unique properties and by combining some of them you have the EBOM, and by combining other elements, you have the MBOM. This approach is used in data platforms where the target is to have a “single version of the truth” for each piece of information and you create through apps an EBOM or MBOM-view with related functionality. My blog-buddy Oleg Shilovitsky from OpenBOM is promoting this approach already for several years – have a look here.

So the answer do you need multiple BOM structures is:
Probably YES currently but not anymore in the future once you are data-driven.

Ultimately we want to be data-driven to allow extreme efficient data handling and speed of operations (no more conversions / no more syncing to be controlled by human resources – highly automated and intelligent is the target)

(Video) Engineering and Manufacturing Bill of Material (PLM)


Even this post is just showing the tip of the iceberg for a full EBOM-MBOM discussion. It is clear that this discussion now is more mature and understood by most PLM-consultants as compared to 5 – 10 years ago.

It is a necessary step to understand the future, which I hope to explain during the upcoming PI PLMx event in London or whenever we meet.

The importance of EBOM and MBOM in PLM (reprise) (9)


1. EPDI - Effective BOM Management with Teamcenter
2. ENOVIA - PLM Software by Dassault Systèmes
3. BOM Transformation
4. Drastically Improve PLM with Windchill BoM Structures and Reporting
5. Tecnomatix - Zvi Feuer, Exec. VP - Siemens PLM Software - The Importance of Manufacturing
(Siemens Software)
6. Bill of Materials[BOM] explained in Tamil/தமிழ்.
(Business Technophile)
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