For many companies, outsourcing their manufacturing processes has become
a way to get better-quality production at lower cost and free up resources
to focus on strategic initiatives. Still, even with these benefits, putting
the building of its products into another companys hands can be
an anxiety-ridden, strategic decision for any business. Success hinges
on trust and accountability. We at TriVirix use the mySAP Enterprise Portal
as a means to achieve both.
want to be as good, if not better, than our customers own
internal manufacturing department would be. Because we are a remote
operation for them, we have to make up for that, and one way we
do that is using information technology.
President and CEO, TriVirix International
TriVirix International is a U.S.-based
medical device contract manufacturer with facilities in the U.S. and the
United Kingdom and customers around the globe. We build electronic and
electromechanical equipment products for a worldwide base of customers
in the medical device and biotech industries. TriVirix essentially becomes
the virtual manufacturing department for its customers, handling the development,
transition, manufacture, and support of their products.
To help ensure customer confidence, we
have implemented the mySAP Enterprise Portal to offer clients access to
real-time information about their orders. Developing our customer information
portal, AllianceNet®, has been part of the vision of TriVirix president
and CEO Richard West and vice president Michael Labriola, who cofounded
the company in 1998. To truly act as our customers virtual
manufacturing department, we wanted to give them access to information
about the status of their devices whether in production or repair
online at any time, says West.
A philosophy of complete openness is one
of our key value propositions for customers and a crucial differentiator
from other contract manufacturers vying for the same outsourced manufacturing
business. Were very open book. There is very little
information we wont show our customer.
Although lowering operating costs will
be a long-term benefit, our initial goal in implementing the mySAP Enterprise
Portal was to increase sales. We look at the portal as a sales and marketing
tool. Our selection of SAPs portal solution was very strategic,
and we have already realized a return on that investment. The total cost
to implement has been small relative to the increased revenue.
Reassuring the Customer with Real-Time Information
Since we are not co-located with our customers, our priority is to provide
them a high level of comfort, with immediate access to information about
their manufacturing status without having to make a trip to our facilities
in Minnesota, the UK, or even to our North Carolina headquarters. They
just go onto their computer, open up their web browser, and access the
system from their desktop.
We specialize in assisting customers from
the end of the research/development phase through final manufacture. In
most cases, TriVirix builds a finished product ready for use in the hospital,
clinic, or laboratory. Each month, the company ships thousands of products
from its factories in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and a newly acquired
facility in Milaca, Minnesota, to the US, Europe, Asia, and other worldwide
Throughout this process, our customers
typically look to AllianceNet for two types of information: static documents
(such as design specs, manufacturing instructions, and quality records)
and real-time reports from the SAP R/3 system. The reports give a customer
valuable insight into their order status. From their purchase order they
can drill down and see supplier and production order status. In addition,
they may even click on a part number and find out its inventory status,
to answer questions such as How much inventory is available for
Customers can access the portal anytime,
from any location, via their web browser, which provides a reassuring
level of transparency for customers (see Figure 1). More than once
I have heard from potential or current customers that we delivered better
manufacturing status information to them than their own manufacturing
||Customer View of TriVirix Portal
Our customers use this information to determine
project status or view manufacturing instructions, supplier information,
and inventory position. Product specifications, bill of material data,
proposals, contracts, and pricing documents are available, along with
warranty information and our entire quality-system documentation. Customers
can also launch iViews, such as a site map of capabilities and a white-pages
lookup, and even access a web cam for live shots of work-in-progress at
the manufacturing site.
Better information sharing and online collaboration
improves the manufacturing process and eases any lingering customer concerns.
One new customer was worried that his engineers were not providing us
with the correct drawings, since the product was in transition and involved
frequent engineering changes. AllianceNet gave him access to all the documents
we had received from his team and immediate feedback that we were
building to the right documentation. He told us this was exactly what
he needed. Open communication is crucial to establishing trust in the
This trust in the process is the cornerstone
of TriVirix success, and key to making a business case to customers.
The AllianceNet portal powered by the mySAP Enterprise Portal clearly
differentiates TriVirix from its competitors and is a crucial element
in creating customer comfort and making the case for outsourcing.
Accessible Information for Employees, from the Factory
Floor to Company Headquarters
TriVirix portal provides similar ease of access to employees. Employees
enter the portal through assigned roles that correspond to their job responsibilities.
Direct labor can access information on receiving, manufacturing, inspection,
and service instructions at PCs and shared kiosks. Management views sales
information, financial reports, and master production schedules, along
with status information on projects, sales, and orders (see Figure
2). We want to access the same information our customers access. If
we are not using AllianceNet ourselves, then a customer is going to call
and ask a question and our project managers wont be equipped to
||An Employees View of Customer Data in TriVirix
Suppliers Access to Portal for Latest Specs
Like customers, our suppliers also need the latest information on a product.
AllianceNet provides suppliers with access to our document vaults, so
they are assured everyone is working from the most up to date documentation,
and are building to the correct revision.
Looking to the Future
In line with our founding principle of using information technology for
strategic advantage, we plan to expand the capabilities of our portal
solution, and address our customers desire for more online B2B capabilities
by offering web-based meetings and the ability to create or change orders
from the customers desktop.
SAPs Business Intelligence solution
will become increasingly important as well. mySAP Business Intelligence
will provide out-of-the-box functionality, like exception reporting, so
we can bubble up through the portal information
that is important to our management team. We believe this will become
increasingly important as we grow.
Customer Comfort Means Better Business
For TriVirix, the mySAP Enterprise Portal has increased customer satisfaction
and therefore competitive advantage at a relatively low
cost. The mySAP Enterprise Portal allows TriVirix to provide real-time
production data to our customers desktops at almost no cost,
says our president and CEO, Richard West. As their contract manufacturer,
we can deliver better and more timely information on the manufacture of
their products than they can get from less-powerful systems on their own
I believe this translates into better customer
relationships and better business. With open and easy information sharing,
the mySAP Enterprise Portal enables us to provide our customers with the
level of comfort and trust they need. This is very important to TriVirix.
It is at the heart of our business plan and strategy.
CHF Solutions, a TriVirix customer, has this to say about the benefits
CHF Solutions Inc. has been very impressed with the power
and functionality of the TriVirix Internationals AllianceNet/mySAP
Enterprise Portal provided for communicating our program and order
status between Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, and Belfast, Northern Ireland.
It provides a clear, accurate window into the detailed activity
which represents our program. With AllianceNet, we expect the decision-making
to be better and more timely because we are all working from the
same page. As anyone in manufacturing knows, the difference between
success and failure is clear, accurate information for good decision-making,
resulting in fewer errors, quicker delivery, and lower costs.
Given TriVirix Internationals relatively small company
size, for you to have implemented such a powerful system gives me
optimism that this business system might be appropriate for our
company and its customers worldwide.
Robert A. Garee, Vice President Operations, CHF Solutions
Mark Tanis is Vice President of Information Systems at TriVirix International
and the project manager for the companys portal, AllianceNet. In
addition to his responsibilities with TriVirix, Mark also serves as vice
chairman of the ASUG Enterprise Portals group, and teaches graduate and
undergraduate information technology courses at the University of Phoenix.