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PLM Essentials - 5. Engineering Structures



While the BoM provides the complete list of everything you need, engineering structures tell you how it all fits together. These provide all involved in production with an understanding of how the parts and assemblies are made, helping to track changes during development. Effective implementation of engineering structures can relieve administration burden and minimise delays by ensuring compatibility of parts throughout the product.

You may also be interested in the areas we have covered previously: Part 1 – Part Numbering SystemsPart 2 – AttributesPart 3 – Part Nomenclature and Part 4 - BoM Setup.


What are engineering structures?

Engineering structures are the organisation and orientation of parts within a BoM. That is not the organisation within the BoM, it is the physical structuring of parts and assemblies in a product, represented within the BoM. Think of it as a digital copy of the structure, mimicking the physical organisation of parts. Engineering structures are crucial for tracking and managing changes to parts and their role and packaging within the product. 

Engineering structures are not just used by the engineering team, they also affect downstream departments like procurement, logistics and manufacturing. They also have a very direct impact on the effectiveness of PLM, so it is essential to get engineering structures right.

The most common types of engineering structures are:

Component-based releasing (CBR)

High-level assembly (HLA)

‘Money Parts’

Common assembly releasing


Engineering structure selection

When considering the types of engineering structure to implement in a programme, it is important to consider the role it will play and the benefits that it will provide. It should be lean, reportable, representative of the real-world, intuitive and carry a minimal administration burden to help drive efficiency and productivity. 

An ideal engineering structure:

Supports lean processes across all departments

Supports efficient engineering change management 

Is not an obstacle to any function

Supports accurate cost and weight reporting

Represents the physical assembly of components

Reflects and supports the chosen procurement strategy

Is intuitive to create, read and understand

Keeps administrative burden to a minimum


Engineering structures in action

This guide included information on the common types of engineering structures, their advantages and disadvantages. To highlight their practical implementation, we have included a case study of work conducted with an electric vehicle manufacturer. 

Read on to learn why engineering structures are so important to efficient development and the important role they play in effective PLM:

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