Engineering Change Control

Why automate your change control process? For a manufacturing company, their engineering change control process is their most expensive process.

I was working with a manufacturing company that hired one of the Big5 consulting companies [back in the 80’s] to interview their workers to uncover their most expensive process. They were there a week [think of the $] and their conclusion was that it was there engineering change process.

Studies have shown that a paper based change control implementation can cost as much as $1,800 per change request just to manage the process and paper. For example, if your company generates 20 changes per month, you will be spending $432k per year just to manage changes.

Taking advantage of PDM or PLM software, you can reduce this cost by an order of magnitude. Instead of spending $432k, you will be looking at $43k.

I have yet to find a company that is happy with how long it takes to turn around an ECO [or whatever your company calls it]. This is one of the most visible problems that they are looking to solve.  Typically, they hand carry around emergency change requests so that they can be approved and implemented that day.

Using PDM or PLM software, it is easy to reduce the cycle time for an ECO to less than a week – maybe not immediately, but soon.

Companies still using paper to manage changes will typically have weekly CCB [change control board] meetings. This means it will take at least a week to get one approved.

Most companies that have implemented PDM or PLM software have stopped having the CCB meetings. They were not necessary.

Many manufacturing companies look to be ISO compliant [International Standards Organization – ISO9000 or ISO9001]. If you are using a paper based system, these audits will take at least a week and your confidence of passing the audit is questionable.

With PDM or PLM software implemented, the ISO audit process usually takes only a few hours.

An added benefit – PDM or PLM software makes it possible to get the Right information to the Right person at the Right time.


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