This previous post discussed some of the reasons why this is such a great idea. Here are some examples of projects that are actually doing this!
Sqonk really gets’ the idea that published BOMs help others build his project. He has posted about building a
40-pin LPC1343 breakout board with 12 MHz crystal, USB Connect detection and disconnect, MicroBuilder’s single-button ISP, ISP Header and the standard LPCXpresso user LED. I added proper USB ESD/EMC handling, all this on a 5×2 cm board. All parts where purchased at Digi-Key, but I am working on the BOM to be able to order the parts from other online distributors that are easier to work with in Europe (Farnell, RS…).
He is taking the excellent step of creating carts with multiple suppliers including with the LOCAL branches to help minimise the dreaded shipping fees and hassles of customs and taxes!
It is this extra step of providing one or more shopping carts transforms a project plus BOM into an ‘instant kit’ and reduces the effort from finding and verifying every single part and balancing the multiple suppliers and delivery fees to just one or two simple purchases!
In this example SARduino644 v0.1 BOM at Mouser, Stan has seen a project he liked, created a shopping cart and very generously offered it for publication. This is a great way to build up many carts and also to get feedback on the how the parts went in the actual build!
“Vinciduino is an open hardware project, a clone of the forthcoming Arduino Leonardo.” The project has blogged that: “Transparency in costs is something required when speaking about “open hardware” and there is a community working altruistically on it.” They also said that:
“it must be possible to go to a distributor of electronic components and order the component list, where, with a mouse click we get all the necessary components. Anyone who are not an expert in electronics will not know how to select the components for mounting the board, so if we want a total spread of the board, a component list must be provided, while this action is also useful to know the cost of the board.”
MC HCK is not only building a project using community input, but one of the key goals is a very low price point, so the sourcing and pricing of parts is a key part of the project work and discussion. This project has published the BOM, but not yet published any carts. Understandably that is not a priority when they need bulk purchasing to hit the $5 price, but it would be an useful to publish carts for those who want it ‘now’ and especially helpful to start building the momentum and refinement of this project before mass production!
Dangerous Prototypes have many BOMs with carts and also often discuss pricing and pricing approaches in some detail.
Of course these carts won’t return any % of sales to the projects creator, but that is no different for the “pure” open source process. Hopefully this will change in the not too distant future, once suppliers realise the benefit in providing easy ‘one click’ purchase will drive up their sales, I am confident they will offer, or the community can negotiate % of sales to ‘registered – recognised – or some terminology’ projects!
One really easy way that the suppliers could offer significant % of sales to project creators when they make that first sale, is to gather the parts for two, or five kits in the ONE SINGLE STEP. While this might add a tiny cost over the cost of gathering parts for one kit and does add a bit of inventory cost, it makes a huge saving on labour for gathering the parts for the next sale(s)! This process could even be a stepping stone into 10+ pricing for the project parts!
There are many additional ways that projects could work with suppliers to drive down project kit costs with this sort of partnership between project creators and part suppliers. For example, a project creator could provide funds to enable up front bulk purchase parts for say 100 kits, to drive down the cost, and of course encourage the supplier by reducing their risk! This situation suits pre-sale approaches ranging from a commitment to buy, to a dollar commitment.
So think about creating carts for your projects, or for a project you like, encouraging others to create carts and even pushing suppliers to provide this service!