Managing Engineering Change Orders (ECO)

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 R3 is a solid ERP solution for manufacturing companies. Dynamics AX 2012 provides deep functionality to support many of the complex scenarios faced by businesses on a daily basis.

In this post, we will explore some of the features Dynamics AX 2012 offers to support the complex process of managing product/item/part changes in a manufacturing environment.

Overview

An Engineering Change Order (ECO) is a document that is usually issued by the R&D or the Quality Control (QC) department to authorize a change to a Bill of Materials (BOM) or a Formula by replacing item(s)/part(s). This is usually triggered by a design change, a quality concern, or even by regulation. ECOs are also called “engineering change notes”, Engineering Change Notice (ECN), or just an Engineering Change (EC).

Businesses usually find it hard to:
1. Track the documentation of such changes across production lines
2. Plan for future effective dates
3. Plan for supplying the new part(s)
4. Insure ECO is implemented without violating production/quality rules

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 provides a simple, yet robust process to handle this scenario.

How It Works

An example will help demonstrate the power and agility of Microsoft Dynamics AX.

Let us assume that we have a manufacturing company that uses item AD0001 (950S Electric Assembly), and we want to implement an ECO requesting to replace it by item AD0002 (980S Electric Assembly) in all our production lines. The ECO states that the change should take effect on January 1, 2015.

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Managing the Process

Here are the steps to manage this process in Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012:
1. Go to the “Released Products” form under Product Information Management, and then go to Common. Select the old item you want to replace (in this case AD0001).
2. In the Engineering Tab, click on “Create Case”. Once the New Case form is open, notice the Case ID (00006). In the Case Category choose “Product Change” which will appear as “ProdChg”. If Product Change option is not listed, you will need to create it in the Setup.
3. Fill up the rest of the information in the case as follows, and then click on “Create”.
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4. Once the case is created, go back to the “Released Product” list, select the new item, then click on “Associate with case”, and choose the case you just created in step #3.
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5. The case will now show both items (and products) in the Associations section. From there, click on the original item, and click on the “Where-used analysis” button to select all the BOMs that use the old item.
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6. The “Where-used analysis” form allows you filter through all your BOMs (and Formulae) and to select which ones are subject to the ECO. Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 allows you to filter by several options. One of them is “Planned effective date”.

7. In our case, item AD0001 is being used by two BOMs (000026 for item D0004 and 000112 for item D0011). Click on “Associate all with the case”, then on “close” to continue.
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8. The Associations section of the case should be updated to include the selected BOMs, and their items and products. This means, we are ready to start processing the ECO. The first step is to go to the “Change Status” button and choose “In process” as illustrated below:
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9. The next step is to go to each associated item that uses our obsolete item AD0001, create a copy of its BOM, and replace item AD0001 with item AD0002. The screenshot below illustrates the steps needed.
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10. Once you click on the “Create BOM” button, you can choose to “Copy” the old BOM, which will make it easier for you to replace the obsolete item.
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11. After the new BOM is created, you will need to associate it with the ECO case that we created it in Step 2 (Case number 00006).
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12. Repeat steps 9 through 11 for each Item that uses AD0001.
13. Once done with all of the BOMs, you can go back to the ECO case, and click “Check Completeness” to make sure all Product Change rules are valid.
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14. The system will show a message box detailing the validation results. Check for errors if any.
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15. When ready to apply the ECO to BOMs, click on the “Approve and activate changes” button in the Case’s ribbon bar. This will open a form where you can ask the system to “Suggest actions” to implement the ECO. In this case, the system suggested two actions to approve the new BOMs, and two actions to expire the old BOMs. Notice that these actions have a planned effective date. Click on “Approve Actions” when ready.
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16. The ECO implementation is now complete, and you can close the case.
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17. The new BOMs will be automatically activated on the defined date.
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The above process can be implemented on Bill of Materials (BOMs), Formulae, and Production Routes.

Manufacturing Solutions Without the Hassle

Microsoft Dynamics AX 2012 provides a robust process to manage and to document changes to products in manufacturing environments. This process is available natively in AX 2012 R2 and R3 and does not require any additional Add-ons.

 


– Software Delivered as Promised. No Surprises.

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Amer Dalain

Insight written by Amer Dalain

Director, Manufacturing at Rand Group

Amer Dalain has over 9 years of experience with various ERP platforms, including Microsoft Dynamics AX & NAV, which he couples with his 12+ years of work in Information Systems, Supply Chain, Business and Management. Strong exposure to business practices and challenges in manufacturing, retail, and global supply chains enable Mr. Dalain to tackle the toughest of ERP challenges

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