Engineering Change Orders & PLM

Years ago, when I first began selling PLM software, every company I spoke with complained about engineering change orders [ECO].  Their biggest complaint was that it took way too long to put through a change request.

At that time, all ECO’s were paper based.  They might have been called engineering change requests [ECR] or engineering change notices [ECN] or document change requests [DCR] or document change notices [DCN].

These paper based systems – using the term systems lightly – were difficult to manage, lacked visibility and could be error prone.  The change request moved through the approval process serially.  They would go from one person to the next while a document control person recorded the activity.  At some point the change request would be discussed at a change control board [CCB] meeting – these meetings usually took place weekly adding more time to the approval time of any change request.

If the requestor wanted to see the status of their request, they would ask a document control person who would research the information.  It was up to document control to make sure that the change request followed through each step in the process.  They would make sure that the request was filled out correctly.  They would check for typos.  They performed a quality control kind of function.

Change Control with PLM

With a PLM solution in place, change requests are entered into a web based user interface.  There can be required fields and not required fields.  There can be pulldowns that eliminate typos.  When the requestor has completed the form and attached any information/drawings, they click ‘send’.  The request moves to the next person in the process.  PLM software allows for serial or parallel activities.

The PLM solution moves the change request through your defined process.  It makes sure that all of the steps are taken unless a manager issues an over-ride which is recorded.  It manages your engineering change process.

At any point in time, a requester can see the status of their request.  They can see whose desk it is currently on.  They can see the history of the request [audit trail].  PLM software provides full visibility into the change process.

Impact of PLM

It has been my experience that PLM can shorten the average time it takes to put through a change request by an order of magnitude.  As an example, one company I worked with averaged 45 days to turn around a change request.  After PLM, they averaged less than a week and emergency requests could be turned around in an hour.

A PLM solution provides control and visibility into your change process that you can’t get in a paper based ‘system’.

Contact me to learn more…

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