The Engineering Change Process

If you are using paper to manage your engineering process today, you are likely experiencing something similar to this example:

I worked with a high tech company to help them implement a PLM solution.  Their engineering change process looked like this:

Any person could generate a change request.  That paper went to a person [let’s call them a clerk] that would make sure it was filled out correctly and that all of the needed information was there.  The clerk would visit the requestor to gather any of the missing information.  The clerk would manually hand the change request to the appropriate product manager for approval.

If it wasn’t approved, the clerk would return the change request to the requestor.  If it was approved, the clerk moved it on to engineering.  Engineering would make the changes and attach them to the ‘engineering change packet’.  The clerk would duplicate the engineering change packet and provide it to manufacturing for manufacturability.  The clerk would provide another copy of the packet to marketing to determine if the change would generate more revenue.  The clerk would provide another copy of the packet to finance to see if the extra revenue would cover the increased cost.

The clerk would create copies of the current version of the packet and provide it to members of their CCB [change control board] for them to approve or reject the change in their weekly meeting.  The rejected request would be returned to the requestor.  The accepted request would proceed to engineering for ‘incorporation’ and go on to manufacturing.

This process averaged 45 days to complete.

After implementing PLM, the change request process looked like this:

Any person would go online and fill out a change request form.  There would be required entries and optional entries.  They would click OK and the request would be Emailed to the appropriate product manager for approval.  They would click on a link that opened up the change request with all of its attachments.  A rejection would send an Email to the requestor.  An approval [OK click] would move it to engineering.  It would be automatically assigned to the right engineer by product.  They would perform their design activity and click OK.  Emails would be sent to marketing and finance for their input.  Any rejection would go to the requestor.  If this was approved by both marketing and finance, an Email would be sent to engineering for incorporation.  CCB meetings ceased to exist – the few issues they uncovered would be resolved between the parties involved.

Anyone could search against the change request to see the status.  Managers could see where the request was within its process.

After implementing their PLM solution, this process would average 10 days while emergency changes could be approved in 1 day.

Why PLM?

A PLM solution provides control.  It makes sure that all steps are taken.  The steps move to the next person upon completion of an activity.  The ‘virtual’ packet gives access to all relevant information with the click of a mouse.  Electronic signoffs are recorded [great for ISO compliance].  It gives the right information to the right person at the right time.

A PLM solution provides visibility.  Anyone can see the status of a change request by the click of a mouse.  You can quickly see bottlenecks – maybe you need to redistribute some work or hire another person.

This new efficiency saved them time and money.  Their return on investment payback occurred in less than half a year.

Contact me to see how this could work in your company.


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