ECO vs. ECN

ECO VS. ECN: Are They The Same

Design optimization is the backbone of engineering development. The processes involved in making a product can be subjected to change based on various factors. When the need for a change is identified, the question is how to communicate this change to the concerned departments in an industry. This is where Engineering Change Orders (ECOs) and Engineering Change Notices (ECNs) come to play.

Engineering Change Orders

An Engineering Change Order (ECO) is a documentation packet that outlines the proposed change, lists the product or part(s) that would be affected and requests review and approval from the affected individuals charged with implementing the change. The ECO allows you to document the reason for the change and identify the Bill of Materials (BOM) Items and Document objects that are being changed or released.

ECOs are used to make modifications to components, assemblies, associated documentation and other types of product information. It is used to implement a change for an existing object or to release a new object.

An ECO must contain at least this information:

  • Identification of what needs to be changed. This should include the part number and name of the component and reference to the drawings that show the component in detail or assembly.
  • Reason(s) for the change.
  • Description of the change. This includes a drawing of the component before and after the change. Generally, these drawings are only of the detail affected by the change.
  • List of documents and departments affected by the change. The most important part of making a change is to see that all pertinent groups are notified and all documents updated.
  • Approval of the change. As with the detail and assembly drawings, the changes must be approved by management.
  • Instruction about when to introduce the change—immediately (scrapping current inventory), during the next production run, or at some other milestone

Engineering Change Notices

An Engineering Change Notice (ECN) is a document authorizing and recording design changes throughout the prototyping and life-cycle phases of a product. ECN documentation contains the justification for changes made to a component or system once the initial design is complete. It also forces changes to be approved by the relevant authorities (often the project manager).

An ECN must contain at least the following information:

  • Identification of what needs to be changed. This should include the part number and name of the component and reference to drawings showing the component in detail or assembly.
  • Reason(s) for the change.
  • Description of the change. This includes a drawing of the component before and after the change. The drawings must clearly show the detail(s) affected by the change.
  • List of documents (and in industry, the departments) affected by the change. The most important part of making a change is ensuring all pertinent groups are notified and all documents updated.
  • Approval of the change. As with the detail and assembly drawings, the changes must be approved by management.
  • Instruction about when to introduce the change—immediately (scrapping current inventory), during the next production run, or at some other milestone.

So, when do we use ECNs or in what situation is an ECO issued?

While ECOs and ECNs are both engineering change documents, they serve different purposes and used differently in an engineering change process. There are different stages of an engineering change process as illustrated below:

  • Issue identification & scoping: Someone identifies a problem or issue and determines that it may require a change. The scope of the issue and its possible impact are estimated.
  • ECR creation: An engineering change request (ECR) is created to examine the necessity and feasibility of the change, to identify parts, components and documentation that might be affected, to estimate costs and to list the resources required to implement the change.
  • ECR review: The ECR is circulated for review and discussion among key stakeholders and is modified as needed.
  • ECO creation: Once the ECR is approved, an engineering change order (ECO) is generated, which lists the items, assemblies and documentation being changed and includes any updated drawings, CAD files, standard operating procedures (SOPs) or manufacturing work instructions (MWIs) required to make a decision about the change.
  • ECO review: The ECO is then circulated to a change review board made up of all stakeholders (including external partners when appropriate) who need to approve the change.
  • ECN circulation: Once the ECO has been approved, an engineering change notification/notice (ECN) is sent to affected individuals to let them know that the ECO has been approved and the change should now be implemented.
    Change implementation: Those responsible for implementation use the information in the ECO and ECN to make the requested change.

Why would you need a change?

There are many reasons why ECRs, ECOs and ECNs are issued, the major reason being the need for a corrective action related to defective or obsolete parts.

Modern day companies have seen the need to adapt to change as technology keeps progressing. These changes have to be communicated quickly and effectively in an organization. A comprehensive knowledge of ECOs and ECNs and their functions will guide an engineer to what to do in order to handle such an issue.

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