BOM cleanup and price estimation

Originally published at:

In this video, Chris does cleanup of the BOM in preparation for re-evaluating the price of the module at low volumes. Unforunatley during the recording of this video, there was an issue with the sound, which can be fixed by using the “video speed controller” plugin mentioned below. This is also a rather long video…

This all seems like hard work! And error-prone too. Are there any KiCad-related tools to help with all this? I’ve seen KiCost, and that looks like it might be useful. I guess that approach of pulling price information from suppliers based on the MPNs of parts is the way to go, but it all seems quite manual. What do bigger companies do? (Is this the sort of problem that PLMs are supposed to help solve?)

This is the work that many hardware engineers need to do on a daily basis. There are some tools, and I’m surely missing them. But having the right info in the right places are tantamount to good prototypes.

I have used KiField in the past to export and import data, but much of that functionality is now in the built-in spreadsheet. I have tried KiCost, but not in a while. I think Dave was having trouble getting licenses to the APIs. I know that @kaspar’s plugin can also help with pricing, but that requires a BOM export.

At the end of the day, I have found that getting the MPN right is the main thing. Everything else can and will trip you up, but it’s the MPNs that must be correct.

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In a long past life, the company had an Material Resource Planning, MRP, system and used in house part numbers for everything. That allowed for multiple parts to be qualified to the same part number. A resistor could be sourced from multiple suppliers. The buyer would then order the parts. They were buying for multiple products at once. It was always a pain to get from the schematic to the BOM in the material system. You had to manually add things or put special parts on your schematic like a PCB, insulators and mounting hardware for transistors… Sometimes, even solder to make sure that got bought and costed into the product.

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In my experience, everyone will eventually have to march to the beat of a CM drum, and each CM has evolved uniquely with their own tools and workflows. This is essentially an impossible situation to support from the perspective of any CAD vendor, unless those wanting the (CM-specific) behavior provide it themselves somehow.

There are generic interface formats but IMHO they haven’t achieved widespread adoption because the industry ultimately has too much variation - except where there is exceptional motivation and availabile resources.

Cheers, Dale

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Thanks for the answers! Being realistic about it, I suppose it shouldn’t be a surprise that the process of selecting a few dozen (or hundred) components from the millions available, getting exactly the right ones, taking account of price, availability, lifetime, electrical characteristics, mechanical constraints and anything else you can think of, might be a difficult problem…

I’ll give KiCost a try, since it seems like it might be the best solution for KiCad at the moment, at least for getting a quick start on the process.

You are probably referring to the Kitspace tool: (If anyone wants to try it, let me know and I’ll give you access.)

The BOM Builder has some pricing info but it’s really for selecting parts based on all information available and then selecting distributor SKUs. Through the tool you can then also add the lot into distributor shopping carts.

KiCost is much more about getting a cost estimation after you have already selected all your parts I believe.