Seahorse Bioscience is an American company that manufactures complicated desktop instruments to measure cell metabolism. Their XF Analyzers generate data used to study, diagnose, and treat several diseases including diabetes and various forms of cancer. After years without a coordinated product data management system, Seahorse decided to modernize their engineering document management.
Seahorse has two engineering facilities in Massachusetts, about 100 miles apart. The Chicopee office used product data management (PDM) software only of value to the engineers in that office; it couldn’t scale to support other operations in Chicopee or to support the engineering team in the Billerica office. The engineers in Billerica were using a Windows network folder to share all engineering documents. “We didn’t have any type of product management system [in Billerica],” says Bill Beard Jr., manager of Engineering Services for Seahorse. “It was essentially an open archive.”
Beard and his team realized both systems were far from optimal. Data in the Billerica office was neither accessible nor secure: “There are risks,” notes Beard. “Not only pilfering—somebody stealing your intellectual property—but it becomes very difficult to maintain what is the latest and greatest revision of every file.” As for the Chicopee office, “They couldn’t collaborate with us in any future design activity whatsoever.”
Streamlining engineering collaboration wasn’t the only concern on Beard’s mind as he shopped for a modern PDM system. “We were losing one hour per man per day in searching for files that were not centrally located,” says Beard.
After examining other products, Seahorse settled on Adept Enterprise PDM from Synergis Software. Beard identifies three ways the benefits were immediate and substantial:
“The permissions architecture contained within Adept allowed us to set permissions accordingly so that our design engineers’ design intent was not compromised by manufacturing engineers going in and taking a look at the files.”
“Since we adopted Adept we now have not only gained back that lost hour per man per day, we’ve actually saved so much time that projects now getting done per their deadline date.”
Deployment and Use
From previous experience, Beard estimated a nine-month deployment to get Adept running. “We actually cut two-thirds off of that. We went from initial sales contact to deployment and go-live in two to three months, which was a big boost for us.”
Beard and his team at Seahorse are pleased with how smoothly their engineering document management is running, and how it has increased their efficiency. But Beard doesn’t want the benefits to stop with the engineering teams. “My vision for the company is to have Adept be the nerve center that we can communicate engineering data across the enterprise… not just engineering-centric but corporate-centric as well.”
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Randall S. Newton is the principal analyst and managing director at Consilia Vektor, a consulting firm serving the engineering software industry. He has been directly involved in engineering software in a number of roles since 1985.