Reducing Engineering Change Orders

J

JkelleyCDS

#1
I have just began working for my new employer and I am preparing an assessment of their document control system. The first item that stood out to me was the numerous amounts of engineering change orders within days of a drawing's initial release. This is waste and not typical in my experience. Any ideas or methods to reduce this wasted activity? Appreciate it! :thanx:
 
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ScottK

Not out of the crisis
Staff member
Super Moderator
#2
I have just began working for my new employer and I am preparing an assessment of their document control system. The first item that stood out to me was the numerous amounts of engineering change orders within days of a drawing's initial release. This is waste and not typical in my experience. Any ideas or methods to reduce this wasted activity? Appreciate it! :thanx:
Sounds like a fun challenge.
Without knowing the company it sounds like they are releasing the drawing before the product design and develpment is really done.

Do they have a "Rev none" system - where a protype drawing is "Rev none" or "Rev 0" during the Design and development phase?
We do that here and it gives Engineering and manufacturing the freedom to tweak the drawing outside of the ECO process.
Changes during this phase are documented in the Design Review.

Once it's approved as Rev A, then every change has to be run through an ECO.
 
J

JkelleyCDS

#3
Thanks for the response ScottK. My feeling based on my initial experience with the company is a lot of these changes fall into the category of initial design and development like you've indicated. The desing review is a tough one because so many configurations are customizable for the military, medical, and commercial industry and in some cases universal configurations. It may just be the nature of the beast. Does ISO frown upon so many changes? I know that lean concepts may frown upon such activity. Thanks again!
 

Stijloor

Staff member
Super Moderator
#4
Thanks for the response ScottK. My feeling based on my initial experience with the company is a lot of these changes fall into the category of initial design and development like you've indicated. The desing review is a tough one because so many configurations are customizable for the military, medical, and commercial industry and in some cases universal configurations. It may just be the nature of the beast. Does ISO frown upon so many changes? I know that lean concepts may frown upon such activity. Thanks again!
Hello JKelley,

ISO does not frown onto anything. That's not their job. Your (external) auditor may question your continuous/continual improvement efforts with repect to wasted and non-value added efforts.

You may benefit from studying ISO activities and Registrar activities. The two are often misinterpreted.....

Stijloor.
 

ScottK

Not out of the crisis
Staff member
Super Moderator
#5
Thanks for the response ScottK. My feeling based on my initial experience with the company is a lot of these changes fall into the category of initial design and development like you've indicated. The desing review is a tough one because so many configurations are customizable for the military, medical, and commercial industry and in some cases universal configurations. It may just be the nature of the beast. Does ISO frown upon so many changes? I know that lean concepts may frown upon such activity. Thanks again!
An ISO auditor may wonder why there are so many chages and may follow that deeper to other observations if warranted, but if that's what your procedure says that's what you do, then that's the bottom line. As long as you're following the procedure and the procedure meets the ISO requirements, then there is no nonconformance.

That being said - it's the management rep's job to suggest improvements to the QMS. So if you think there's opportunities, then you shouldn't keep your mouth shut.

Lean - well, sounds like that's out the window for this process. ;)
 

CarolX

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#6
Any ideas or methods to reduce this wasted activity?
I would start by identifying the reasons for the ECOs. Maybe there is insuffcient info on the drawings for manufacturing.

I work for a job shop, and we see this more and more from our customers. Parts are created as solid models in the CAD system, then a drawing is created from the model. Often, especially in the early stages of development, the engineer will forget to specify a hole size on the drawing. Our frustration occurs when we call the engineer for clarification, we get "I sent you the CAD - look for yourself"....ggrrrrrr!

If you can identify the reasons for the excessive ECOs, you will have the info to reduce the number. In otherword, if you can go to your engineering group and tell them that an extra 10 minutes up front may save 3 hours of ECO processing later.
 
J

JkelleyCDS

#7
Thank you CarolX! This is kinda of the realm I am dealing with. It's always tough to figure out where to start. These parts are our designs and we should be identifying issues before "production" deliverables arrive. Right now we lack a valuable design review stage.
 

Sidney Vianna

Post Responsibly
Staff member
Admin
#8
I have just began working for my new employer and I am preparing an assessment of their document control system. The first item that stood out to me was the numerous amounts of engineering change orders within days of a drawing's initial release. This is waste and not typical in my experience. Any ideas or methods to reduce this wasted activity?
ISO 9001 requires processes comprising the QMS to be monitored. The Design/Engineering process being one of them. I believe that one of the potential indicators for the health of that process is the number of ECR's/ECO's. Actually, I had voiced my concern in this post and in this other post, as well. With much aghast, we realize that the "do it right, first time and every time" cliche' seems to apply only to manufacturing processes. Most design-responsible organizations seem not to understand that ineffective and inefficient design processes consume a tremendous amount of their profits. And, worse, it goes unnoticed, because people tend to think that is OK for flawed design packages to be released for manufacturing/procurement and hundreds of ECR's/product are part of doing business.

There is no easy fix for that, but it must start with a realization (by management) that a problem exists. Instead of wasting resources fixing design problems, resources should be applied to prevent such problems. The quality of the design review activities, including the caliber and knowledge of the different functional representatives, must improve for the number of spurious and unnecessary ECR's to come down. Unless an ECR is an improvement feature, it should be treated as rework/repair and accounted for, accordingly.
 
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J

JkelleyCDS

#9
Very insightful Sidney. In my experience, the costs of ECR/ ECO activities can snowball overtime. I am conducting a meeting as part of my assessment and will try this avenue of addressing this with my Engineering and Management team. I mean, I have been with my new employer for less than two months and this was the first thing that stood out to me. When that happens, I can just see how an auditor (external) would respond.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#10
I have just began working for my new employer and I am preparing an assessment of their document control system. The first item that stood out to me was the numerous amounts of engineering change orders within days of a drawing's initial release. This is waste and not typical in my experience. Any ideas or methods to reduce this wasted activity? Appreciate it! :thanx:
Yeah. This happens in a lot of organizations where someone gets an inkling that changes to a document need to be formal and then they go overboard in trying to affix a change letter each time the original author or one of the approvers of the document gets a new bright idea for an amendment or deletion to a document.

Here's the way many efficient organizations handle the system:
  1. somebody has an idea for an original document
  2. he or someone else is selected to author the document
  3. the first draft of the document, identified as "DRAFT #1" is circulated among one or more other folks for either approvals as is or suggestions for changes
  4. if there are no suggestions or changes, the document is approved and "released for use" with ANY naming or numbering system which makes sense to the organization.
  5. if there are suggestions for changes, they may be discussed among the approval group or with experts outside the initial approval group until a consensus is reached.
  6. once consensus is reached, document goes back to original author for the next "DRAFT #2" and then cycles through the approval process again and again until ALL approvals are in place, at which time, the naming or numbering changes from "DRAFT" to the nomenclature used in approved documents.
The key is not to give a formal number to a document UNTIL it has gone through the "DRAFT" and "APPROVAL" stages.

Sometimes, after all approvals and formal release of the document for use, but BEFORE it is implemented, somebody (whether in the original approval group or not) discovers an error or suggests a change. Many organizations may make a "temporary" approval of the change, often called a "redline change" to allow use to go forward because the time lag of going through the formal approval process might cause a cascading effect on other processes. A "Redline change" should never be made as a matter of regular practice and then only when sufficient information is available to assure the "formal approval process" will accept the redline change as a new revision to the document.

Similarly, "redline changes" may take place AFTER implementation of the document for the same reason outlined above.

Most organizations which resort to "redline" also have an expedited approval process to rapidly go through the formal approval process to issue a new revision to the document.

My experience with "redline" is primarily in "aftermarket aerospace" where an engineer overseeing installation on an individual aircraft will note some characteristic of the aircraft not previously known when the installation documents were prepared. A flurry of phone calls, emails with photos, conferences with aircraft owners, etc. ensues and a decision is made to "redline" the documents to complete the installation and not delay an aircraft on the ground any longer than absolutely necessary. The part responsible for creating the original document then prepares a formal revision which catches up to the aircraft sometime later and the redline copy is withdrawn.The FAA condones this practice by allowing "minor" changes to such documents to be reported to the FAA AFTER the fact, whereas "major" changes may not be made without FAA pre-approval. So a big part of the decision to redline or not to redline is whether the change is "major" or minor."

An example of such a minor change might be relocating a borehole through a bulkhead because the original designated location has a rack of some sort attached from some previous aftermarket product. The relocated borehole may only be inches away from the original design.
 
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