Engineering Change Management (ECM) is a strategy used by manufacturers to help ensure that inventory and production tracking remain accurate throughout the lifecycle of a product’s bill of materials and production processes. The strategy involves all stakeholders in the project understanding, managing, and controlling changes from initial concept through post-launch reviews. The goal is to anticipate, analyze, and respond to any changes that could potentially impact the company’s success. Today, the ECM process is predominantly handled through a software system like Aligni.
Focusing on the process
A properly-executed ECM strategy encompasses a product’s entire lifecycle – from design and development through manufacturing and after sale customer support phases. Engineering Change Management helps companies identify risks early in the development process before they become costly problems later on. They also use ECM to handle issues that arise during the production process. For some firms, Engineering Change Management can extend into product warranty aspects well after the product has been taken out of production.
To monitor changes and issues, engineers will track all proposed changes or modifications with specific documentation, such as an Engineering Change Order (ECO) or Engineering Change Request (ECR). These forms highlight potential component issues, their severity, and which assemblies or products are affected.
While ECOs and ECRs were originally paper forms. Now, these have now moved to digital versions within PLM and MRP software systems. This digital transition provides better traceability for the company and faster notifications to relevant parties in the production process. Going digital also allows those groups to collaborate during the development process as needed and in a timelier fashion.
Managing costs and updates
Manufacturing engineers and purchasing personnel also use Engineering Change Management to minimize costs. They do this by updating inventory and production tracking systems in real-time when modifications are made. This helps manufacturers optimize their inventory levels, reduce manufacturing delays and rejections, prevent obsolete parts or materials from entering production. Ultimately this saves time, money and resources throughout the entire product life cycle.
Engineering Change Management has proven to be an effective process used by manufacturers to manage component updates and issues in a cost-effective manner. ECM ensures all stakeholders remain aware of any potential risks during the development process. By utilizing digital Engineering Change Management strategies, manufacturers can ensure they create quality products in an efficient manner while minimizing costly mistakes that would otherwise be overlooked.
Interested in instituting an engineering change management program? Skip the paper and go directly to digital ECM. Sign up for Aligni today!
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- The ECM process, step-by-step
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- Fall 2023 Update
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