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.
Contec worked closely with the BCI engineers to develop a smaller set of configurations, taking into account design, cost, risk, lifecycle management, and overall instrument compatibility. Often this involved a careful evaluation of tradeoffs, as in the choice of motherboard. “We suggested a newer motherboard, but with the same Intel 915 chipset used in their current platforms to lower design risks during a significant product line update,” said Contec Vice President of Engineering, Dan Butler. “The tradeoff with this approach was a slightly shorter lifecycle but it resulted in a smooth revalidation effort.” Contec also located lower-cost components that still met or exceeded performance standards, while making sure that all components met compatibility requirements. In the end, the original 18 configurations were reduced to 9, most of which shared the same core platform.
BCI saved upwards of a million dollars by eliminating many components and procuring others at a lower cost. In many cases the newer components were more reliable and will lead to lower field service charges.
Fewer, more standardized configurations across product lines will also reduce engineering change and validation costs. “Contec came through with a design that met all our requirements and increased product reliability at the same time,” said BCI Strategic Procurement Manager, Jose Valdesuso.
Contec helped BCI further conserve engineering resources by developing initial software images, participating with BCI engineers in validation test protocols, troubleshooting any anomalies, and coordinating resolution with hardware and software manufacturers.
The small form factor chassis reduces warehouse space and freight costs, while allowing BCI’s instruments to fit more easily into customer laboratories, where space is at a premium. This, along with reduced costs to the customer, will make them even more competitive in the marketplace.
BCI Strategic Procurement Manager
- Contec came through with a design that met all our requirements and increased product reliability at the same time.