What is an Engineering Change Order?

What is an Engineering Change Order?
There are many different synonyms for the concept of change control : change control management, baseline management, change request... Even within an industrial branch (eg: software, computers design, mechanical...) the terminology varies a lot from a company to an other. However, the concept of change control is a very general concept and it is perfectly described in the ISO-9000 quality standard.

With the environment of a company becoming more and more dynamic, the pressure on engineering processes to accommodate for changes is ever increasing. For such changes to yield engineering efficiencies, an arrangement can be formulized whereby they can not become effective until a responsible agent releases an Engineering Change Order (ECO). Being an essential component of Engineering Change Management, an ECO is a written document authorizing to incorporate changes in the scope of the engineering process.

To understand the significance of an Engineering Change Order, it might be worthwhile to take a closer look into the mechanism of the change management. Firstly, a needed change is brought under notice through a change notification, which is then routed to the responsible agent. If the decision is made that an engineering change is necessary, an Engineering Change Request (ECR) is created, forming the basis of analysis of the feasibility and effects of the change. Now, if it is decided that the process is to be changed then an approval course of action takes into place, involving all the departments affected by the change. If everybody approves the changes, the ECR is converted into an Engineering Change Order, for the physical change of the affected objects.

However, while finalizing the Engineering Change Order, the costs of the change and its effect on other parameters (such as yield production) should be kept in mind.

The benefits achieved through an Engineering Change Order deals with the efficiency of managing engineering changes. Due to a clear communication throughout the organization, errors are reduced, data is transferred accurately and consistently, and finally a secure, fast and effective change process takes place.

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