Each Wednesday, I focus on topics related to inventory, warehouse management and manufacturing. Sometimes, I select a specific product, including software products, that provides functionality related to the core purpose of my "Warehouse Wednesday" column.
Several weeks ago, I began a mini-series on "assemblies" by looking at QuickBooks desktop products that offer this functionality. Here, I will discuss how Fishbowl software configures and makes use of "assemblies" (Product BOMs) for manufacturing purposes.
Fishbowl is advertised as the No. 1 inventory add on for QuickBooks. One reason is the extent to which Fishbowl defines the inventory and manufacturing process, especially when it comes to what we've referred to as "assemblies" within this series.
Fishbowl doesn’t actually use the term "assembly" in reference to an Item, rather they create Bills of Material (BOMs) that may constitute a recipe, a formula or a list of components need to assemble an Item or Part.
Fishbowl essentially uses the words Item and Part interchangeably. For example, they even specify that a "Part" is an "Item" that is stored, manufactured or consumed.
Below is an example of the first screen of data captured when creating a New Part in Fishbowl:
Fishbowl figure 1
Fishbowl parts can be Inventory, Service, Labor, Overhead, Non-inventory, Internal, and others. For the most part, we will concern ourselves with those party types that typically are associated with manufacturing assemblies or Bills of Material.
The next step in setting up a part in Fishbowl is to capture how it will be tracked from a choice of lot number, revision level, expiration date or serial number.
Like any good inventory or manufacturing system, we have the flexibility in Fishbowl of selecting different tracking for different parts, rather than a "one size must fit all approach," as found in QuickBooks Enterprise Advanced Inventory.
By the way, you can also create "custom" tracking options.
Fishbowl figure 2
We also can track parts by every location to which they may be assigned for storage, use, manufacturing or distribution based upon location groups the user configures.
Fishbowl figure 3
Of course, Fishbowl also allows you to capture vendor information, along with custom fields you may define. You also can use either default or uniquely defined accounting (accounts) for each part allowing you to configure not only the asset (inventory), income and COGS accounts, but also accounts for adjustments and scrap.
Fishbowl provides a method, whereby you can optionally assign parts to a "product tree" that will categorize the various parts into as many definitive layers as you require.
Fishbowl offers a sophisticated "reorder wizard" that allows you to configure various stock levels and stock control dates. For example, you not only define Lead Time (the number of days between issuing a PO and receiving it), but also Safety Stock (the number of days of stock to cover emergency situations), and Basic Stock (the number of days of inventory you want to keep on hand).
All of these reorder definitions, coupled with your actual history, make their reorder wizard one very sophisticated Material Resource Planner (MRP).
Fishbowl figure 2
A lot of other details are captured on the various tabs within each configured part, including pictures, user defined descriptions, status, filtering options, unit-of-measure, substitutions and pricing/cost.
The figure below shows how Fishbowl tracks costs for Parts:
Fishbowl figure 5
With this basic understanding of how Fishbowl Parts are configured, we now can look at the Bill of Materials set-up.
The entire Fishbowl process for creation of a Bill of Material begins by entering the name or number to define a formula, a recipe, or a list of components needed to assemble an item, as shown below:
Fishbowl figure 6
Notice the options for "Auto Create." These options determine if a finished product will be created when the stock quantity is short, the order quantity is short, if needed for replacement whenever a finished product is used or sold, or only when a specific order for the product is generated.
Fishbowl has several really neat features, and the ability to define the type of items you are adding to the BOM is one of those I like the best. Raw Goods are consumed when the BOM product is finished.
Repair items give you the ability to adjust the cost of items that are associated with production when the item is finished. The Finished Good is the item that will be created by production. Note-items provide instructions and additional details concerning the BOM, and Batch Items add multiple finished goods and non-configurable raw goods during the production process.
In the example below, a Part has been selected as a Raw Goods Item for incorporation into our BOM. I want to point out on the left that Step 3 is an Item Description, this provides an extra place for you to define details about the item, as well as to provide any associated instructions.
Fishbowl figure 7
When the Bill of Materials has been total configured, you will end up with a BOM that looks something like the one shown below.
Fishbowl figure 8
In the window on the left (above) you can see the finished item that will be created by this BOM, and all the various Raw Goods, along with some Optional items. If you click on any item in the list, the details associated with that item are shown on the right side of the display.
One of the configuration options permits the assignment of stages to the BOM production/assembly process. In Fishbowl a stage is defined as a BOM that's included on another BOM as a sub-assembly.
For example, you might be producing a finished good that is a wheelbarrow, and it is made up of a frame sub-assembly, a wheel sub-assembly, a container sub-assembly and a handle sub-assembly. If you define each of the sub-assemblies I just mentioned as "stage" of the wheelbarrow, each sub-assembly will be assembled as part of the assembly as a whole rather than being taken from any stock on hand.
Fishbowl figure 9
Another valuable feature of Fishbowl BOMs is the ability to define how the work will be accomplished as part of a manufacturing work order. Standard processing assembles the BOM just the way it was defined at the time it was set up. The raw goods will be consumed and Finished Goods will be produced.
But Fishbowl also allows you to ‘Reverse’ the processing of a BOM, thereby turning Finished Goods back into Raw Goods. Another process called ‘Disassembly’ is similar to "Reverse," but in the case of our Wheelbarrow, for example, the Wheelbarrow is turned back into only it's sub-assemblies, the sub-assemblies themselves are not broken back into their raw goods.
Fishbowl also has a "Repair" process for Bills of Materials, and a "Custom" process that allows you to add components, subtract components, change components and make adjustments in the process and related items as you proceed. The combined offerings of these various BOM related processes give you a great deal of flexibility in meeting your assembly related requirements.
When a Fishbowl sales order for an item that must be manufactured is issued, Fishbowl will automatically create a Manufacturing Work Order similar to the one shown here:
Fishbowl figure 10
The Details tab of each Manufacturing Work Order allows you to capture information regarding the Date Issue, Created and Fulfilled along with any revisions or modifications that apply. Additional information can be captured in the memo tab on a user by user basis with date and time stamp accuracy.
When coupled with Fishbowl's optional "time and labor" module, workers can clock into and out of Manufacturing Work Orders and their hours will be added to the work order costs allowing for an highly accurate calculation of the true costs of production.
Fishbowl has an integration with SolidWorks CAD Design Software, allowing for the import of parts and sub-assemblies needed to create a Bill of Materials from the design configurations and parts specified within SolidWorks.
We certainly have not covered all the options and possibilities that can be configured for Fishbowl, even so, you can clearly see it is a very sophisticated inventory product that will support a wide variety of manufacturing environments.