A Deep Dive into Engineering Change Request (ECR)

engineering change request

It is a common scenario where more than 60% of the system’s need undergoes changes before it is put into service. Changes also do happen after a product is released for consumer usage, due to various consumer feedback and real-time hindrances. There may be a new requirement altogether or a change in existing specification due to many factors such as improper design, errors, change in external environments and so on. Requirement Management is the process of making changes to a system’s requirement and it is an important part of requirement engineering.

Changes to a product design can arise from anywhere, it can arise from within the organization during quality testing or more earlier when it is digitized using a CAD software. It can also arise due to feedback or complaints from end users, after the product is released for consumption. Whatever may be the origin of change, analyzing and doing a feasibility study of implementing the change will be the first phase in the change management cycle.

A Change Request (CR) is an initiative or a process followed by an organization, to suggest an improvement area, and ask a change to an existing specification. This is often the origin of a proposed change, and initiates discussion forums within the organization steering committee, help them analyze the impact of a requested change, and close on a practical solution.  A change request can be of various forms listed below.

Engineering Change Request (ECR):  Most organizations follow a common ECR template which is more of a physical or an online form, which states down the problem or proposed improvement with a finished assembly or an independent part used in the assembly.

Document Change Request (DCR): A DCR is a process which mentions about issues with design specifications or any other form of documents used in the engineering process. For example, a DCR is initiated when the shop floor line manager finds issues with a CAD specification when building a prototype model.

Process Change Request (PCR): A PCR is initiated when there is a change in manufacturing process, such as manufacturing scene or facility, purchased products etc. For instance, a PCR is submitted by a supplier to their vendor, to let know them of proposed changes in the ,manufacturing facility or change in raw materials etc.

Different organizations use different terminologies to denote a change request. A PCR can also be denoted as Manufacturing Change Request (MCR) in certain organizations. Whatever may be the term used, a Change Request (CR) statement should capture and include few critical details such as listed below,

  • A brief description of the issue met with the product
  • Primary reason why a change is needed in the product
  • Part number associated with the change (This is mostly optional)
  • Requestor details (name, dept etc.)

It is to be noted that a ECR statement does not capture details of a proposed change itself which is mostly unknown when a ECR is initiated, it also does not deal with the details of how the change is going to be implemented. However, actually focuses on the problem statement associated with the product itself or a specific part used in the product.

A ECR form facilitates business to analyze the impact and make critical decisions on implementing the change. A Change Control Board (CCB) is often involved in these decision meetings. The CCB includes people from different hierarchy and cross functional areas such as design engineers, shop floor managers, marketing executives, cheif operating officer etc. The goal of the CCB meetings is to approve or reject the ECR. In few cases, the board can ask for further analysis, where a product manager is involved to do a detailed impact analysis.

If the CCB identifies the ECR as a critical change to be implemented in the product, an Engineering Change Order (ECO) is issues. A single ECR can lead to to one or more ECOs, depending on the impact of the change. Similarly, multiple ECRs can also lead to one single ECO when they are related to each other. An ECO states, that the change is accepted and needs to be implemented.

Stay tuned to my next article to know more about a Change Order.

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