The Engineering Change Process

A product’s lifecycle begins with an idea and it moves through design, manufacture, customer support and stops with an end of life declaration.  It is the most complex [expensive] process that exists in any manufacturing company.  The entire process may not be well defined but Engineering’s piece, the engineering change process, will be. 

My Thoughts…

The aerospace industry companies were the driving force for PDM/PLM.  They had hundreds of thousands of drawings that they couldn’t manage effectively and they had a paper based engineering change process in place.

Their first priority was to manage their hundreds of thousands of drawings.  At that time, PLM didn’t exist so they used PDM software.  This allowed them to check in and check out drawings, provided access controls, provided version control and made sure that engineers had the latest version of drawings.

These aerospace companies generated around 100 engineering changes per month.  They didn’t need a study [even though there were many] to tell them that it was costing them $2,500 per change request just to manage the process.  If the annual cost [$3M] didn’t get their attention, the ability to eliminate expensive errors certainly did.

A properly implemented PLM solution can reduce the cost of managing change requests by an order of magnitude.  Add in the cost of a PLM implementation and the payback is still less than a year.  Make a $250,000 error by using the wrong drawings and the payback is immediate.

As I said last week, just having visibility into the product lifecycle will provide huge advantages to your company.

Your Thoughts…

Is your company still using a paper based engineering change process?  As few as 10 change requests per month can pay for a solution.


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