Recently I attended the Camstar Systems Inc. Customer Conference held in San Diego, California. The conference drew Camstar's existing and potential customers from across Camstar's product portfolio. Camstar customers shared the technical architecture of their complex industry-driven implementations and also presented the best practices on how to reduce business process complexity in their respective vertical industry environment.
In line with its customer conference theme, Camstar focused on product quality across the value chain from designing a product, planning, and manufacturing to its use in the actual field. A higher percentage of customer presence from medical devices and hi-tech industries highlighted substantial adoption of Camstar's offering in these verticals. Camstar Customer Conference was a forum for manufacturers and, in some cases, competing manufacturers in the same industry verticals to share their best practices and implementation pitfalls of Camstar as well as other enterprise software systems.
Some of the important trends, common issues, and solutions that manufacturers raised are discussed in the paragraphs that follow.
Manufacturers that design their products in-house, outsource manufacturing of product components, and assemble the final product in-house have to constantly review each process step to control the product quality. In addition to having such a complex value chain, especially medical device manufacturers have to review and monitor their processes to fulfill regulatory requirements. They also need process data in real time to make quick decisions about product lots and overall process performance. The importance of information exchange between engineering, planning, and manufacturing within the organization and inclusion of manufacturing data from suppliers is core to monitoring the entire manufacturing process. Such medical device manufacturers are able to overcome their challenges by implementing manufacturing execution system (MES) in combination with enterprise planning and product life-cycle management (PLM) systems.
Manufacturers such as enterasys that heavily rely on outsourcing and work with a highly distributed supply chain need to proactively identify product quality trends during manufacturing. enterasys uses SigmaSure to centralize quality management and gather real-time data from various enterprise systems across globally distributed suppliers. SigmaSure helps enterasys collect and analyze test data at every step of its product's life cycle to avoid any cascading quality issues in production line.
Camstar's latest release of on-demand supply chain quality solution will further ease the pains of manufacturers by providing them access to product data quality information in location and technology-agnostic format. It will assist manufacturers to truly achieve lean manufacturing targets by improving collaboration across the value chain and will also reduce the cost of ownership of overall IT portfolio.
A manufacturer might have an enterprise resource planning (ERP) or a product life-cycle management system, but the manufacturing execution system remains at the center of a factory that interacts with all other systems in bidirectional information exchange. Any software system that has to interface with production process needs to interact with the MES at some point during the life cycle of the product. This was especially highlighted by SanDisk, which is challenged to produce large volumes of high-quality products with a short cycle time. Camstar Manufacturing's quality focus with built-in operational intelligence helps SanDisk to drive the core manufacturing initiative within a complex enterprise environment that is made up of applications from SAP, i2, Oracle Agile, specialized yield management, and many homegrown specialized software systems.
Growing importance of PLM systems and existing ERP systems could undermine the importance of manufacturing execution systems. Manufacturing execution systems help manufacturers of all sizes to streamline their processes and to eventually achieve their target of lean manufacturing. Increasing complexity of products that are complicating manufacturing processes, emphasis on quicker production cycles, and an overall end focus to consistently produce highly quality products necessitate implementing a manufacturing execution system. Camstar Manufacturing's success in highly regulated manufacturing environments with complex supply chain to produce high-quality complex products proves the importance of quality-focused manufacturing systems.