Engineering Change Order
An Engineering Change Order (ECO) is a document that outlines proposed changes to a product’s design or manufacturing process. ECOs are part of the change management process in engineering and manufacturing sectors and serve as an effective way to record and track modifications to a product throughout its lifecycle.
ECOs typically include:
- The details of the proposed change
- The reasons behind the change (for example, to improve performance, correct a design flaw, respond to customer feedback, or comply with new regulations)
- The effect of the change on different components and systems
- The parts and assemblies affected by the change
- The required changes to documentation, such as assembly instructions or user manuals
Before an ECO can be implemented, it must usually go through a review and approval process. This ensures that all relevant parties (such as design, manufacturing, quality control, and others) understand the implications of the change and agree that it should be implemented.
Once an ECO is approved, it’s used to guide the process of updating design documents, reconfiguring manufacturing equipment, revising quality control procedures, and making other necessary changes. ECOs also provide a historical record of changes to a product, which can be useful for troubleshooting, quality control, and future design work.
Example of an Engineering Change Order
Imagine a company, AutoMakers Inc., that produces electric cars. They’ve been producing a certain model for two years now, and the engineering team has identified an issue with the car’s battery design that may affect its performance and longevity.
In response to this, the engineering team proposes a design modification to enhance the battery’s heat dissipation system, which they believe will improve its lifespan. To initiate this design change, they prepare an Engineering Change Order.
The ECO would include:
- A detailed description of the proposed change, including design diagrams and specifications.
- The reasons behind the change, i.e., to improve battery lifespan and overall performance of the vehicle.
- An analysis of the change’s effect on other car components and systems.
- The list of parts affected by the change, like the battery housing, the cooling system, etc.
- The required updates to documentation, such as assembly instructions, user manuals, and service manuals.
This ECO would then be reviewed by different departments like manufacturing, quality control, supply chain, etc. They would assess the implications of the proposed change on their operations.
Once the ECO is approved, the changes would be implemented in the production line, which might include reconfiguration of assembly processes, updating quality checks, notifying suppliers for parts changes, and revising user and service manuals.
Throughout the product’s lifecycle, this ECO serves as an official record of the design change, which is vital for troubleshooting, quality control, future design enhancements, and regulatory compliance.