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Let’s Make a Change

The CAD and prints for the parts you are manufacturing have just been updated. This is a common occurrence when a new product is being launched. An engineering change can happen for a myriad of reasons. It could be that a safety issue was found or that a cheaper build strategy was decided on. You might not even care why the part changed, but there are a few things you will care about. How will this impact the inspection fixtures that you have ordered? What will be the impact on cost and timing? Some steps can be taken to help mitigate the stress of your project; let’s take a closer look at how engineering changes (E.C.) can be handled.

Is it changing?

Often, an E.C. request is sent out only for evaluation. In those circumstances, any available information should be sent to the fixture shop for review. The purpose of this is to know what the cost and timing impact will be if the change happens. The fixture shop should be instructed that this request is only for a quote and that no other action needs to be taken.

Getting these quotes in advance will aid you in the E.C. process. There are usually several ways to accomplish the same goal. For example, let’s say you have a stamped part that is not as rigged as it needs to be. After investigating the issue, it is found that hemming the part or adding strengthening beads are both viable options. Getting quotes from all your suppliers will ensure that you are ready to proceed once a decision is made.

It is changing!

When is it time to turn the fixture shop loose on the change? In most cases, it is once you have received approved data and funding for the updates. Once that happens, you can issue a purchase order for the E.C. to the tool shop. Whenever a change is happening, it is important that everyone is on the same page with what data is approved. As discussed earlier, there can be multiple rounds of data before an E.C. is agreed upon. Making sure that the quote, purchase order, and CAD all show the same REV levels will limit the opportunity for error.

Something to think about

Engineering changes are an expected part of the manufacturing arena. The process of implementing an E.C. does not have to be overwhelming. One opportunity to alleviate unnecessary stress is to move at the speed of the information. Trying to run ahead of the change or lagging behind it will inevitably lead to problems. Running ahead of the data usually leads to jobs being put on hold for a change that never happens. Lagging behind it leads to a fixture that is built to outdated prints or CAD. In both cases, not moving at the speed of the information ends up costing you the one thing you were trying to save, TIME.

Teaming up with a fixture shop that has experienced project managers and efficient data management will help guarantee that every E.C. runs a little smoother.

Next Week

Next week we will take a closer look at the certification of an inspection fixture: What is a full gauge calibration? Why do you need one with most fixtures? And what does the certification really tell you? These are the questions we will discuss next week.

By Chris McColley

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