As part of a corporate wide initiative, Beckman Coulter, Inc. was committed to lowering the cost of their diagnostic instruments, which include 18 product lines manufactured in three different locations in the U.S. The company wanted to use fewer components in each device, pay less for the components they used, and reduce the size of the instruments to a small form factor chassis. When contacted by BCI, long-time supplier Contec suggested that they not only look for fewer and less costly components but ways to reduce the number of configurations across their product lines. This would allow BCI to significantly reduce the cost of changes and revalidation.
Lookout Worldwide sought help with the design, development, and production of its alarm system for boats, vessels, and industrial equipment. Its unique Ambush alarm system would not only help owners recover items when stolen but would include breakthrough prevention capability by measuring much smaller changes in alignment and location than was possible from GPS monitoring alone, alerting authorities before vessels had moved more than a few feet. But the Ambush system would require a combination of high end communications, including GSM radio technology, iridium satellite technology, and digital compass technology, along with a GPS system, accelerometers, firmware, and software to allow the system to interface with a user friendly online database. The key challenge was to put all of this technology together in a small package and keep manufacturing costs down, while ensuring the highest possible standards of performance and reliability. “Although we were offering a product that does more than any other on the market, we knew it still had to be priced competitively,” said Lookout Worldwide’s Vice President and Marketing Manager, Ernie Sosa. “And it had to perform at the highest level. We chose Contec after visiting their manufacturing facility and seeing how dedicated they are to quality.”
Dateline 1991: Contec enables Coulter to avoid a costly revalidation, continue production at reduced costs and support product in the field.An unexpected end-of-life notification for a critical component left the Coulter (now Beckman Coulter) EPICS division with a major problem. The announcement came too late to buy a lifetime quantity of the component ? an embedded Intel single board computer (SBC) Multibus 286 CPU for a flow cytometry analyzer. The company’s previous supplier had virtually no inventory to protect Coulter’s forward production or fulfill field service requirements. Facing a costly revalidation, Coulter didn’t have the engineering resources to search widely for a replacement part.
The global technology company had a clear vision for the future - and needed a new partner to make it happen. Its profitability and reputation were being threatened by mounting quality complaints about one of its most popular security products. "We had an unacceptable return rate that was harming customer satisfaction. The cost for us to go out to a customer and swap-out a piece of equipment was high, both in dollars and in customer perception," said the General Manager. “When you damage your reputation in the marketplace, you’ve hurt your ability to increase sales, especially with repeat customers. This in turns hurts profits." The complaints stemmed from problems with the third party computer and display embedded in each instrument. The provider was changing key components without notification. With no opportunity to validate changes, the company often didn’t discover software compatibility issues until units were on the production floor or, worse yet, in the field. Failure rates and lead times were skyrocketing. The Research and Development team was focused on putting out fires instead of designing enhancements to stay ahead of the competition.
Despite its long history of excellence and innovation, MTS Medication Technologies’ reputation was in jeopardy. Its third-party provider's inability to meet MTS’ stringent quality standards was resulting in disappointed customers and missed sales goals. Frustrated with the existing cabinets, customers were unwilling to purchase MTS' latest offerings, which impacted the company's sales, said Brett Smith, Director of Procurement, Purchasing and Supply Chain. "It slowed down our marketing and sales efforts," he noted. Fed up with these unacceptable results and the impact these flaws were having on MTS' bottom line and reputation, MTS considered building the cabinets in-house. But that would mean hiring people, adding expensive resources and shifting MTS' focus away from its core competencies, Smith said.