Change Management Optimization in Manufacturing through PLM and QMS Integration
Blog | May 23rd, 2024

Change Management Optimization in Manufacturing through PLM and QMS Integration

The design and development of a product is a dynamic process that requires flexibility and responsiveness throughout all stages, from initial concept to final production. Even after a design has been finalized and handed over to the manufacturing team, changes may still be necessary due to unforeseen constraints, new inputs, or customer feedback. These revisions could be substantial or moderate, often driven by the need to meet customer requirements or comply with updated standards.

Effective design control is crucial for managing these revisions, ensuring that all modifications are thoroughly reviewed and approved in a timely manner to maintain market schedules.

Key points to consider in managing product design revisions include:

  • Ongoing Evolution: The product development process is continuous, with potential changes occurring at any stage of the product lifecycle.
  • Impact of Changes: Modifications in one area can affect upstream and downstream processes, necessitating coordinated management.
  • Access to Updated Documents: It's essential that all stakeholders have access to the latest versions of designs, bills of materials, and associated documents.
  • Regulatory and Market Compliance: Changes may need to accommodate updates in applicable standards or adjustments related to distribution and marketing.
  • Risk Management: Revisions can affect the product’s quality, safety, and performance, making risk assessment and mitigation important.
  • Root Cause Analysis: In cases of non-conforming material, identifying the root cause is necessary to apply effective corrections.

Managing these aspects efficiently ensures that the product remains competitive and meets the expectations of both the market and regulatory standards.

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Centralizing Change Management for Effective Controls

Given the complexity of the manufacturing ecosystem, a unified platform that provides centralized access to key change requests and documents is critical in today’s global environment. This helps streamline the production process as well as implement a quality management system for compliance and customer satisfaction.

  • Traceability: Change requests and orders must be traceable, allowing authorized personnel access to historical change information such as who initiated it, who approved it, when, what was modified, etc. Therefore, it must be available in a centralized location for quick and easy access.
  • Reviews and Approvals: When a change is made, it needs to be reviewed and approved by various teams in a timely manner. Sending documents by email can be ineffective as it may get buried in an overflowing inbox. Traveling executives may not have a safe way of reviewing documents in the enterprise system, which can add to the delay. Providing a cloud-based platform enables access from anywhere, anytime. Alerts and notifications ensure that reviews and approvals happen on time.
  • Improve Compliance: The change management process must comply with regulations such as those of the Food and Drug Administration regarding medical devices, detailed in 21 CFR Part 82. This covers design changes, document changes, and production and process changes.

Unified PLM Platform: Key Advantages

Managing changes within a unified PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) platform enhances collaboration and streamlines operations across multiple teams, from ideation through post-market customer service. Despite different departments typically using specialized software for their core functions, which often leads to data silos, a cloud-based PLM solution integrates with various enterprise systems like CAD/CAM, ERP, SCM, and CRM. This integration not only breaks down silos but also facilitates a unified view of data, enhancing traceability and simplifying communication. Moreover, it ensures efficient change management by providing a single platform for reviews, approvals, and permission controls, thereby reducing potential errors and confusion that can lead to quality issues.

Key advantages of using a unified PLM platform include:

  • Enhanced Collaboration: Facilitates seamless interaction across departments, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
  • Integrated Systems: Connects with multiple enterprise tools (CAD/CAM, ERP, SCM, CRM), centralizing data and operations.
  • Improved Traceability and Communication: Reduces data silos, enhancing the ability to trace and communicate changes effectively.
  • Efficient Change Management: Manages changes with a single source of truth, reducing errors and ensuring quality.
  • Real-Time Monitoring: Provides real-time data to track the impact of changes on operations, allowing for immediate corrective actions if outcomes deviate from expectations.
  • Cost Efficiency: Keeps manufacturing costs low by minimizing wastage due to errors and nonconformances.
  • Automated Alerts and Notifications: Alerts relevant personnel about necessary approvals and notifies them of any delays.

By leveraging a platform like ComplianceQuest's PLM, companies can maintain a high standard of quality and efficiency, adapting quickly to changes while ensuring that all stakeholders are aligned and informed.

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PLM+Quality from Start to Finish

Introducing changes at any stage of the product life cycle can affect the quality of the product or the process. For instance, when a light-weight component alternative may be used for greater performance and energy efficiency, but may have other implications for the product. Or the new component may need a process to be changed, which may introduce new risks.

Therefore, ensuring quality management becomes integral to the change management process is crucial. It must start at the ideation stage so that risks are identified, and mitigation strategies are also implemented. In later stages, quality issues can impact productivity and increase the cost of manufacturing.

For instance, if a particular component is interfering with a product's expected performance at the testing stage, the product must be reworked using an alternative to that component. This will lead to wastage, scrapping, rework, etc., requiring additional investments and time. Cost and time delays will affect market prospects, leading to lower profitability and poor brand image.

Therefore, integrating PLM with QMS will ensure risk identification and management every time a change is introduced at any stage of the product life cycle. It will facilitate informed decisions on whether to carry out the change and, if yes, the controls needed to mitigate the risks.

ComplianceQuest’s PLM+QMS solution enables end-to-end integration of product life cycle management, providing transparency, requirements traceability, and design control capabilities to make manufacturing cost and time-effective – and ensure product quality, safety, and performance requirements are met. Audit, inspection, equipment, document, training, nonconformance, and complaints handling are some of the other features that ensure quality aspects are managed across departments/sites and at every stage of the product lifecycle.

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