Change management is essential for any industry where documented, methodical change is frequent and necessary. Most organizations adhere to a change process that suits their industry’s unique needs; these vary from long, detailed processes to ones that are relatively short and simple.
Manufacturing organizations strive to produce high-quality products and go through rigorous processes to do so. Achieving and maintaining quality takes effort and systematic planning, and most manufacturing companies have strict quality guidelines in place to ensure their products not only meet internal standards but also live up to the expectations of customers.
Change happens. No matter what industry you work in, you’ve likely dealt with change at your organization -- whether that’s something major like working with a new software application or something more small-scale like switching from paper cups to ceramic mugs.
For engineers and manufacturers, controlling change processes involves more than thinking about the software impacts common in IT. They have to think about impacts to their production lines, equipment downtime, delivery schedules, employee safety, and more.
Any type of change request, if not managed properly, can be slow to implement, full of errors, and lacking in visibility. Some change requests can even be potentially dangerous—for example, a 1984 incident in India where a lack of proper change management contributed to thousands of deaths and injuries. This extreme example prompted OSHA to enact process safety management regulations in the 90s.
At the heart of every organization is a complex series of processes. In the manufacturing industry, these processes are particularly universal and important: from product development and creation to quality assurance and employee safety, every manufacturing company has its own set of procedures in place with unique steps that require care and precision.
January 28, 1986. The Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrates 73 seconds after launch, killing all seven crew members, including teacher Christa McAullife. In the months following the disaster, the Rogers Commission Report criticized the decision process that allowed the launch, overriding the concerns of the engineers that made the faulty O-rings.
The manufacturing industry includes a broad spectrum of jobs. From food production to electronics assembly, manufacturing is made up of the many people who create the products we purchase and use each and every day.
Inefficient processes are a drain on manufacturing productivity and effectiveness. Every manual task and poorly planned workflow represents lost time and increased chance for human error.
Engineering Change Management in a manufacturing environment requires significant attention to detail. How many times are change approvals and processes put into a binder stored on the production line floor? Can you easily pull information for a report to upper management? Can adjustments to existing processes be effectively communicated with all employees? This is where paper, email, and spreadsheets begin to break down, and some form of tracking software becomes more necessary.