The Dynamics 365 Engineering Change Management add-in for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain aims to streamline product lifecycle management (PLM), ranging from version management and simple upgrades to complicated business process overhauls.
Innovation and change are constantly accelerating, shortening the product lifecycle. Products must keep up with sufficient updates or be replaced by the next new idea. Therefore, engineering, finance, and supply chain managers must embrace ongoing changes as a way of life and identify ways to address engineering change processes quickly and effectively using product lifecycle management (PLM) software. The Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain solution has introduced a new Dynamics 365 Engineering Change Management add-in that fully addresses these business requirements as part of the product lifecycle business process. From simple version management for hardware, firmware, and software, to a comprehensive business process that covers change requests, change orders, impact analysis and change implementation, Dynamics 365 Engineering Change Management is the PLM software that can accommodate your business needs.
The core of this module is a new product master dimension for the version. Like previous dimensions such as style, color and size, this new field for version is an extension of the product identification and can be invoked (turned on or off) on a product-by-product basis where needed. It can be used in a stand-alone environment where version control is required, but a formal engineering change management solution is not required. Conversely, it can be a core element in a comprehensive engineering change management process. In a multi-company environment these options are company-specific so that different processes can be used where needed.
This module utilizes and expands the concept of PLM by defining what transaction types are allowed at each user-defined product lifecycle state by version. This enables companies to restrict sales on initial design concepts, prototypes, and first-article inspection units. Additionally, the module fully supports all business transactions for released or operational product versions, as well as restricting transactions like additional procurement for end-of-life product versions that are being used up prior to replacement or retirement. Clients can define as many lifecycle states as needed and authorize, warn, or prohibit transactions based on their business rules.
The engineering change management process typically starts with an engineering change request (ECR). However, this step can be omitted in certain business cases, for example, for an emergency product safety change. The change request can be initiated by any part of the organization and is used to describe the desired change. A workflow review and approval process can be defined to evaluate open engineering change requests. If a request is approved, an engineering change order can be created, linking the ECR to the ECO.
The engineering change order (ECO) defines exactly what is to be changed for the affected product and all products where it is used. To facilitate that, several functions such as the bill of materials, formulas, and routings, that were previously linked directly to the released product, are now linked to the product version. The ECO also determines the disposition of open transactions, for example, should open sales orders be blocked or allowed to ship the old version. It defines the changes to the product version’s bill of materials or formulas where the revised product is used. It defines any changes to the routing, including resources such as tooling or fixtures, labor hours, overhead costs, etc. that are impacted by the change. When all impacts have been identified, the ECO is ready to be approved. This can be a simple approval step or be based on a workflow approval process in the Engineering Change Management module.
The type of change may force an immediate, costly, and disruptive change, or may allow time for all impacts to be considered and to define a phased implementation that allows for the consumption of older version products, thereby reducing the costs and disruptions. Change impact analysis makes these tradeoffs possible. Readiness checks can be defined to make sure all necessary steps have been taken to use the new product version. These can include system checks for the presence of specified records like an updated BOM, routing, or manual checks of data such as verifying the default order settings are fully defined. A checklist can be defined to organize all the required data checks and Power Automate workflows can be defined to route and approve the readiness checklist.
No engineering change process is complete without the ability to determine when and where to phase in the changed version and determine the disposition of old version products that are both on-order, in-process, and in inventory. Even if the engineering change is an emergency type that must be implemented immediately, it will be necessary to identify and remove old version products. If the change is to be phased in on a cost-effective basis, determining when the new version is needed across all business processes is required to reduce the scrap levels of the old version while not interrupting the planned flow of goods.
The first step in that process is to run a where-used analysis to determine what products will be impacted by the version change of a product. The second step, assuming that Master Planning is being used, is to check planned orders and net requirements to determine where the new version product will be needed next, and in what quantities and timeframes. This is an integral function of PLM software, making sure the timing of changes is optimal.
Once that information has been determined, open orders can be checked to determine the quantities and dates for purchase orders, transfer orders, sales orders, requisitions, quotations, etc. Furthermore, information regarding order statuses, as well as on-hand inventory available can help the user satisfy those orders. This information in the Engineering Change Management module provides the basis for determining the point at which the new version can be implemented with the least cost impact and minimum disruption to the business. New purchase orders and production orders can then be created in the Dynamics 365 Supply Chain solution, utilizing the new version of the product, BOM, and routing to seamlessly replace the old version.
The Where-used, On-Order, and On-Hand inquiries are available from within the engineering change order. Other inquiries are available throughout the D365 Supply Chain solution for checking planned orders in master planning, goods in transit in landed cost, stock on-hand in inventory management or warehouse management, and any other status information needed.
One of several views available from the Inventory Tracking inquiry is visibility of goods-in-transit from international suppliers. These views help determine the total quantity of an item that must either be used up or written off upon implementation of the engineering change order.
The old version’s product lifecycle state can be updated within the PLM software to prohibit new procurement but allow production and sales to continue to consume the remaining quantities. At the point that the version change is made, remaining, unused quantities of the old version can then be removed using a quarantine order and set aside for rework or scrap, as defined in the engineering change order.
Microsoft has designed the Dynamics 365 Engineering Change Management add-in to support single company and multi-company business enterprises. This gives the user options to deploy the module where engineering change management may be centralized in one company, and where new versions of the product are released to multiple manufacturing and/or sales companies. In different circumstances, the entire process can be executed within a single company.
The new Dynamics 365 Engineering Change Management add-in represents a major step forward in PLM software capabilities by adding tools for basic product version control as well as comprehensive engineering change management processes.
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