Heads-up: changes in builds ⚡️

The build system in PartsBox has been improved. There are some new features, and some things have disappeared — please read on if you'd like to know more.

New features

Pick list! A long-requested feature, a list of part lots that have to be collected (picked) from storage before building. The pick list table now shows up as the second step in a build, and can be exported to PDF or CSV for printing.

Multiple part sources: A Project/BOM entry can now consume parts from multiple sources. If you have 100pcs of a part in one location, and 100pcs in another, you will now be able to build 200 units in a single build. Similarly, if you have a meta-part where one substitute has 100pcs of stock, and another 100pcs of stock, you will be able to perform a build with a quantity of 200. Sources will be assigned in FIFO (First In, First Out) order.

Advanced Build System: If your plan includes feature, you also use other orderings, as well as configure each BOM entry to consume parts in an arbitrary order, selecting or de-selecting sources individually. You can also override the quantity needed for each BOM entry.

For customers using lot control this is a long-awaited moment: you can now use multiple part lots/batches in a build, while still maintaining (slightly relaxed) traceability. If you require strict traceability, you can simply use the "Single source for each part" checkbox.

Things that are gone

The old "Source" dropdown selector in the build table is gone, each row can now be unrolled to configure sources.

The "Ignore" checkboxes are gone as well. There is no need for them anymore: you can proceed with the build even with insufficient stock.

Past builds now have a "Stock requests" column (instead of the old "Source" column) that shows where parts were taken from.

Feature split across plans

The Hobbyist/Maker (free) plan gets the new pick list functionality, but still only allows for a single source for each part. I hope this isn't too limiting for you if you're a hobbyist!

Additionally, multiple sources, but only with FIFO (First In First Out) ordering are available in the Lab/Workshop plan.

Production plan (and higher) with the Advanced Build System feature also allows LIFO (Last In First Out), Last accessed, Largest lot first and Smallest lot first ordering, as well as arbitrary reordering of sources, individual source selection and per-entry quantity override.

Small print: why it took so long

For those wondering why these long-requested features took so long to implement: the new build system actually solves two problems. One is being able to use multiple sources for a BOM entry. The other is that it was possible to end up with negative stock if several BOM entries used the same part.

It turns out that many BOMs use the same part in multiple lines, sometimes directly, and sometimes as a substitute in a meta-part. If a BOM line "consumes" stock for a part, subsequent BOM lines should not see this stock as available. In other words, in order to know if a build is possible at all, it is necessary to go through the BOM line by line, keeping track of available stock throughout the build. It is not enough to check once when beginning the build.

This meant that building had to be approached differently, and a new model for builds had to be designed and implemented. The new build model has to run both on the servers, and in the browser, so that it's possible to interactively change lot assignments and immediately see the results in the build table.

Another reason for the long wait is that the build system is a critical part of PartsBox. Many businesses rely on it every day, and those building medical devices also need the traceability data to be 100% correct. It's not something that can be reimplemented quickly or lightly.

Earlier blog posts: October 2020 update (2020-10-12)
Later blog posts: Images for parts, locations and projects (2021-01-27)

PartsBox is an online app that lets you take control of your electronic parts inventory, BOM pricing, and small-scale production. It keeps track of where components are stored, what the current stock levels are, and which components are used in which projects/BOMs.

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