Engineering change: an overview and perspective on the literature

Jarrett, T. A. W.; Eckert, C. M.; Caldwell, N. H. M. and Clarkson, P. J. (2011). Engineering change: an overview and perspective on the literature. Research in Engineering Design, 22(2) pp. 103–124.



Engineering change has grown steadily in prominence both as an important issue for industry and as an active academic research area. This paper provides a categorised overview and perspective on the published academic literature on engineering change. The aim is to give new researchers an understanding of the field’s breadth and depth, as well as pointers towards additional information, and established researchers a non-dogmatic summary perspective on the work accomplished in this area. Change is defined as an alteration made to parts, drawings or software that have already been released during the product design process and life cycle, regardless of the scale or the type of the change. A change may encompass any modification to the form, fit and/or function of the product as a whole or in part, and may alter the interactions and dependencies of the constituent elements of the product. Key aspects of the engineering change process are highlighted along with the tools and methods that are available to support the process. The nature of products (in terms of complexity, architecture and degree of innovation) and how that affects engineering change are covered. Important related areas such as organisational structure and employee attitudes are also highlighted. The paper concludes by discussing different strategies that have been proposed to cope with engineering change in today’s manufacturing environment.

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