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Journal of Materials Processing Technology 139 (2003) 535–538

Analysis and implementation of the BOM of a tree-type

structure in MRPII
Ji Guoli a,∗ , Gong Daxin a , Freddie Tsui b
a Department of Auto., Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, PR China
b Tops Datacom Limited, Hong Kong, PR China


According to the character of the tree structure of a bill of material (BOM) in MRPII, a tree-structure storage model has been proposed.
It uses two tables to record the parent components and the child components. Each table has a location point combined by three fields.
Other link fields in the child component table present the relationship between levels of a product tree. Compared with Gozintograph mode,
the BOM design on tree structure has many merits.
© 2003 Published by Elsevier Science B.V.

Keywords: BOM; Tree structure; Assembly; Component

1. The structure analysis of BOM item exists. The record structure model of a child component
table is shown in Table 1.
The bill of material (BOM), which is the technique Now one comes to the disassembly of the product tree.
document on illuminating the product structure, is used Suppose the start point is endowed to some known parent
to demonstrate the structure and relationship between item, thus all its child records which link to it can be found
the final product (never processed in current enterprises), in the child component table. Then by dint of the fifth field,
sub-assembly (composed of other parts, and used by other any child item which still has a child item can be identified,
sub-assembly or final product within current enterprise), and its corresponding record in the parent component table
parts or materials (produced outside), as well as the corre- can be reached by the link fields. Circularly, considered the
sponding quantities of the subordinative parts and materials new known parent part as the start point, and repeating the
of each assembly. The following figure (Fig. 1) shows the procedure above, the object will be fully disassembled.
tree structure of a lamp: each object presents itself as a A clear example based on Fig. 1 is shown in Fig. 2 to
parent item or a child item. As a final product, the lamp demonstrate the storage structure of a BOM. Because only
is limited as a parent item, and items such as wire, can- one final product exists, the product number remains un-
nulation, plastic strap, and steel strap, which belong to the changed. The location number is obtained according to the
lowest level, cannot be parent items, whilst other item will spontaneous sequence, in practice, according to the input se-
be treated both as child items and as parent items. quence. The parent loc. field in the child component table is
A structure model is proposed to record the product tree. the pivotal field which keeps parallelism with the location
To record parent components and child components, two no. field in the parent component table.
tables are used. Both of them have the same three address
fields, which helps to indicate, which product tree the object
belongs to, and on which level in the tree it lies, and of 2. Management of a BOM
which position on the level it has been fixed. In addition,
two special link fields are added to child component table: 2.1. Creating a new BOM
one indicates which level the current item’s parent belongs
to, whilst the second indicates whether a child of the current Usually a new BOM is created by creating a set of single
level BOMs, each of which contains a parent item and its
direct children. Taking the lamp for example, the top level
∗ Corresponding author. BOM is shown in Fig. 3. The structure information of the
E-mail address: (J. Guoli). product tree such as the product number, the level number,

0924-0136/03/$ – see front matter © 2003 Published by Elsevier Science B.V.

536 J. Guoli et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 139 (2003) 535–538

Fig. 1. The tree structure of a lamp.

Table 1
A record structure model
Product no.a Level no.b Location no.c Parent loc.d Child marke Material namef
a The serial number of the final product.
b The serial number of the level, the item belongs to.
c The serial number of the location on the level.
d The parent item’s location number.
e Boolean to indicate the existence of a child item.
f User-defined fields.

Fig. 2. Records of the lamp.

the location number, and the parent item location number, To improve efficiency, duplication of a BOM must be al-
is created automatically. The child Boolean field is reset lowed. To an assembly, the scope of duplicating includes the
when a new BOM is set up with the current child item whole sub-tree. The implementation involves three changes
as a parent assembly. Something worth mentioning is the to the structure information: replacing the original product
automatic maintenance of the position number, a benefit number of all the objects in the sub-tree with the product
function to keep the position as continuous as possible. For number of the target product tree; treating the summation of
example, the next new child item will fill the vacancy if the original level number and the target level number as the
the second position item has been deleted. This rule can be new level number; and setting a vacancy or a new position
applied to any other continuously varied fields. of the target level as the position number.

Fig. 3. A single-level bill of material.

J. Guoli et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 139 (2003) 535–538 537

2.2. Editing and delete a BOM

Unless it is at the lowest level, a single level BOM is not

allowed to be deleted separately. Deleting a BOM is equal to
deleting a sub-tree. Note that the related records both in the
parent part table and in the child part table must be cleaned. Fig. 4. A example of assembly relationship.
Fortunately by those locating fields, it is not necessary to
rely on the complex algorithms to finish the deletion. There are mainly two methods to manage the BOM of
As to editing, just note that replacing an assembly can be diversiform products:
disassembled into two part: delete the current assembly and
create a new assembly. (1) treat each variety as a independent product tree;
(2) only create product trees for those subordinate objects
2.3. Audit the BOM file of polymorphous products. The BOM of a given poly-
morphous product is created only when needed.
Many aspects are involved in the implementation of an The difference lies in that the latter is more suitable for the
audit. An instant step is to check some necessary fields not varieties produced in a short period and with a huge quan-
omitted and filled with correct data type by the user. A fur- tity, but they deal with the following state through the same
ther step is to check whether the information of one assem- way. As Fig. 4 shows, assembly A1 and A2 have the same
bly remains synchronized in different product trees, which sub-items B2 and B3 which is on the same level. To man-
ensures the veracity of updating and statistics of the assem- age the BOMs conveniently, a phantom BOM is imported
bly cost. A main aspect of audit lies in the rationality of the to package up both B2 and B3. It will be treated as a whole
BOM file. Here the rationality mainly means no recursive and inexistence in all kinds of statistics.
problems hidden in a BOM, and no incompatibility lying Suppose another B5 is an alternative for B2: it can be dis-
between any two items. To practice the former, a process tinguished by a serial number added to the record structure.
searches the whole sub-tree and traces back to the root of Virtually, method two creates a temporary BOM, of which
the product tree along the links to ensure no reappearance the subordinate objects are derived from the basic BOM li-
of current assembly. As to the latter, if there are only a few brary and the life cycle of the records will last to the com-
simple rules for compatibility, an instant audit is enough, pletion of the order for the product before those records are
otherwise a expert system is needed. separated and saved as a history back-up for future refer-
ence. Thus the audit becomes a comparatively complex job.
Although, it is not difficult, the implementation of either of
3. Graphic user interface the two methods is of no help in cutting down the redun-
dancy, which is part of the reason for the usage of the Goz-
A graphic user interface (GUI) for a BOM cannot sim- intograph storage model.
ply be explained by using some pop-up windows with grey
tables in them. For users, a graphic interface for a BOM
shall mean that what they operate are all 3D practicalities. 5. A comparation with the BOM of a Gozintograph
If this is still a little utopian for developers, as the alterna- model
tive, a 2D expanded product tree is easy to realize by these
visual treeview controls. Unlike the pure text user interface, The storage structure of a Gozintograph model is known
GUI always make users very clear about the position of the as a network structure which can avoid redundancy effec-
object they are operating, and moving between levels of a tively. A typical Gozintograph is shown in (Fig. 5).
BOM becomes very convenient. Its standing characteristic is that each object appears only
once. No doubt the record structure becomes more complex.

4. Flexibility of the tree structure

The discuss of flexibility mainly focuses on this problem:

how to deal with the diversification of the products. Here
the diversification means those assemblies and final products
with few differences. In practice, the varieties derived from
a product can be counted in hundreds of thousands. Take,
for example, that a car of common type can be assembled
into millions of types through all the combinations of its
assemblies. Fig. 5. A typical Gozintograph.
538 J. Guoli et al. / Journal of Materials Processing Technology 139 (2003) 535–538

Fig. 6. Records for Fig. 5.

As the following figure shows, the left presents an attribute stone of the material management system, so the stability
table (all attributes are omitted), and the right a structure and flexibility of the storage model are the key to the in-
table, both of which are used to describe Fig. 6. The field formation system of the entire enterprise. The tree structure
ADDR AS PARENT in the attribute table presents a set of storage model is simple, smart, easy to implement, suits
locations and it appears in the structure table as a parent item: products with both stable and complex structure and those
the field ADDR AS CHILD can be explained in the same with fugitive and similar structure. This model does not pose
way. A record in the structure table presents a connection a limit on the depth of the product tree. With the develop-
between a parent item and a child item. The parent stores ment of hardware technology, the effect of redundancy will
its location of the attribute table in field PARENT ADDR, reduce to the minimum. It is certain that this model will be
and the child in CHILD ADDR. The child can find its next applied widely in the future.
parent and the parent can find its next child in the structure
table, respectively by the field NEXT PARENT and NEXT
CHILD. Put simply, this storage form describes a network Acknowledgements
by several pointers which naturally increase the difficulty in
editing and maintenance. This work is supported by the Natural Science Foun-
The Gozintograph model deals with polymorphous prod- dation (E0110007) and the Key Research Project no.
ucts by adding attribute and Boolean fields, which increases 2001H020 of Fujian Province, and the Research Project no.
the difficult in establishing the requirement plan and this case 20001601 and the Construction Project no. 3003 of Xiamen
will be aggravated if the difference between products just University.
focuses on the quantity of their sub-items. When it comes
to hidden cycles in a product tree, this model has to depend
on some special maintenance routine to avoid a dead loop. Further reading

[1] A.-W. Scheer, Computerized Enterprise Management, Shanghai Tech-

6. Conclusions nical Literature Press, Shanghai, 1994.
[2] H. Zou, M. Su, Theory and Practice of Modern Enterprise Manage-
ment, China Material Press, Beijing, 1994.
The material management module is one of the core mod- [3] Y.-q. Zhou, B.-y. Liu, B.-j. Liu, Theory and Implement of MRPII,
ules of the MRPII system and the BOM is the foundation Tianjin University Press, Tianjin, 1994.