PLM Essentials - 8. Configuration Management

QR_ Insights: original thinking from our SMEs and curated ‘recommended reads’ from industry commentators. The home of Lio Grealou’s Industry Reflections column, the PLM Essentials series, and topically pertinent thoughts from across the QR_ business.

PLM Essentials - 8. Configuration Management

PLM Essentials explores how to create processes and systems that will help your organisation deliver the innovation it requires to thrive in an ever more competitive marketplace. The eighth instalment focuses in on Configuration Management. Offering manufacturers a means to manage all feasible variants of a single product from the same BoM, this overview covers the Configuration Management setup we recommended for an electric vehicle manufacturer.

Published 2 Dec 2021

2 min read

Configuration Management is a means for all feasible variants of a single product to be managed from the same BoM. Used to facilitate market-specific variants and the degree of individualisation expected of complex engineered products, Configuration Management avoids the time consuming and admin intensive option of structuring multiple variants with high levels of part duplication. This eighth installment of our 'PLM Essentials' series covers the importance of Configuration Management, the decision criteria behind a greenfield setup and the context-specific justifications behind these decisions.

You may also be interested in the previous installments of our PLM Essentials series: Part 1 – Part Numbering Systems, Part 2 – Attributes, Part 3 – Part Nomenclature, Part 4 – BoM Setup, Part 5 – Engineering Structures, Part 6 – Engineering Change Management and Part 7 – Engineering Drawings.

What is Configuration Management?

A configuration is the arrangement of a product’s parts in a particular form, figure, or combination. Configuration Management avoids each possible build combination requiring its own BoM, an arrangement that would become unwieldly, difficult to administer and prone to error when updated part revisions are introduced. Configurability allows a smaller number of structures to be used, easing management, administration and accuracy. The greater the configurability, the fewer structures are needed, and vice versa.   

The stakeholders most impacted by the efficacy or otherwise of an organisation’s Configuration Management are:

  • Engineering
  • Styling and Marketing
  • Purchasing / Finance
  • Supply Planning and ERP

Selecting the right Configuration Management setup

To ensure Configuration Management actively contributes to business objectives, the proposed setup must:

  • Be scalable
  • Be intuitive
  • Minimise duplication and the risk of error in all areas
  • Minimise the need for specialized teams of knowledge
  • Provide support for control model cost and weight reporting

Configuration Management in action

This guide covers what Configuration Management aims to achieve, who the stakeholders are in this, and provides some examples of how established industry players approach Configuration Management. It then addresses decision criteria for a greenfield implementation before detailing choices made for an EV startup. Read on to learn about Configuration Management and its potential in increasing engineering efficiency:

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