When there is a need for changes that will improve end products or components, it is necessary to have proper documentation so that there is a paper trail and to ensure the correct modifications occur.

An engineer change order is an important part of making sure that necessary changes to products are handled in a thorough, safe, and professional manner.

Overview: What is an engineer change order?

An engineer change order can be defined as a document that lists details for new product designs or modifications being proposed to current products. The document lists all of the affected assemblies, components, and documentation. It is sent to all pertinent departments and key stakeholders.

3 benefits of an engineer change order

There are some definite benefits to an engineer change order that are worth noting:

1. Accountability

One benefit of an engineer change order is that it provides documentation that ensures accountability.

2. Communication

Another benefit of an engineer change order is that it ensures that all relevant parties have the same information.

3. Accuracy

An engineer change order helps make sure that product information stays accurate.

Why is an engineer change order important to understand?

An engineer change order is important to understand for the following reasons:

Organization is important in preventing error

Having a good understanding of engineer change orders helps to make sure that you are working with a well-organized way of dealing with product changes. This helps to prevent a wide range of errors that could occur.

Error correction

Understanding engineer change orders provides you with the knowledge to be able to retrace changes that have been made in order to better pinpoint the root cause of any errors.

Minimizes delay

By having a working understanding of engineer change orders, you can help prevent delays in development and foster communication across departments.

An industry example of an engineer change order

In the late stages of development, it is found that a part is faulty and a switch needs to occur. The engineering department notifies the manufacturing department that the switch needs to happen, but purchasing is not given the heads-up. Since purchasing has not been given the notification, the old part is re-ordered. This ends up delaying the launch of the product. This issue could have been avoided with the proper documentation being distributed throughout the departments, by way of an ECR and then an ECO.

7 best practices when thinking about engineer change orders

Here are practices to consider along each key stage of implementing an engineer change order:

1. Identification

Determine where the problem is and if a change is actually necessary. Give as accurate an estimate as possible of the impact.

2. Be thorough in the ECR (Engineer Change Request) creation

Create the ECR in order to gauge how feasible the change is. List all resources required, estimated costs, and all aspects that will be affected.

3. Distribute for review

Make sure that the ECR makes it to everyone that it should.

4. Create the ECO

Create the Engineer Change Order, including any modifications that are needed as gathered from the input gained from the distribution of the ECR.

5. Distribute ECO for review

Make sure that the Engineer Change Order gets to everyone that it should in order to receive approval for the changes.

6. Notification of approval

Once the approval is being granted, all parties that will be affected by the change should be given advance notice.

7. Implementation

Be sure that there is adequate communication and collaboration between all departments and parties that are implementing the changes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Engineer Change Order

What is the difference between an ECR and an ECO?

An ECR is a request for the proposed changes, while an ECO is an actual order for the changes.

What is an ECN?

An ECN is an Engineering Change Notice and it may or may not be issued between the ECR and ECO.

Are ECOs better handled on paper or electronically?

Handling an ECO electronically allows the order to be distributed faster and for documentation changes to be handled more efficiently.

An ECO means better business practices

By having a set ECO process, your organization can avoid making product changes into an overly costly and time-consuming mess. This type of documentation helps to properly identify and address necessary changes to products, as well as streamline the implementation of the modification effort. A well-organized ECO process makes it so that all pertinent parties are aware of the changes and that there is a historical paper trail when issues arise. Without an ECO process, you risk miscommunication, product delay, and manufacturing errors.

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