Design Solutions


Contract manufacturers benefit from PLM solution

Published: 16 August 2018 - Rachael Morling

Coghlin Companies, together with its wholly-owned subsidiaries Columbia Tech and Cogmedix, collectively provide Concept to Commercialisation services to a diversified group of capital equipment manufacturers, device manufacturers, and select entrepreneurs throughout the United States.

As part of a corporate initiative, Columbia Tech and Cogmedix were both investing in new systems to help the companies grow, enhance consistency, and improve quality and traceability. This included upgrading their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and adopting Manufacturing Execution System (MES) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) systems.

PLM was part of this endeavor in order to address concerns with their document control and engineering change release process. As contract manufacturers, they have information coming from various customers and various sources. Their paper-based process flows were cumbersome and were not efficiently scalable, falling short of customer expectations for reporting and change management. In addition, their methods were not integrated causing data duplication across systems that resulted in delays and ran the risk of human error.  They needed a system that would provide unified processes across Coghlin Companies for Document Control, Design Data Management, and Change Control.

Automated workflow

The companies wanted a very clear and automated workflow process for both internal changes and external customer changes with the ability to track a change at any point. They were looking for an on-premises platform that could integrate with their Epicor ERP system and Aegis FactoryLogix MES in order to create a truly streamlined process across design and manufacturing that would result in:

•      Scalability: A core platform of business systems that will support Coghlin Companies growth into the future.

•      Improved productivity: Process automation, reductions in double data entry point, and integration of manual systems.

•      Continuous Improvements: Greater access to “hidden” information and eliminate silos of data.

The solution

“We found that Omnify Software offered superior value, flexibility, scalability, and ease of use compared to alternatives we reviewed,” stated Tessa Kalarickal, Director of Business Systems. “It is also a proven leader in PLM for the mid-size market as it was already deployed in multiple key accounts within the Coghlin Companies and already integrated with Epicor at some of these accounts.” 

Empower PLM offers integrated Quality Management and Manufacturing Process Management (MPM) modules that the two companies found to be an added benefit. The Quality Management module was of particular interest to Cogmedix because this business provides turnkey manufacturing services to medical and dental OEMs. The company enforces rigorous quality control and adheres to full regulatory compliance and is able to use Omnify Empower for their QMS (Quality Management System) to properly document and manage their processes for FDA compliance.

Streamlined communication across PLM, ERP and MES systems

The companies have transitioned to a virtually paperless process - from customer BOM Bill of Materials) import to Engineering Change Order (ECO) release to routing and the manufacturing floor. They have over twenty workflows in the system that require electronic signatures and mandatory data requirements. Discontinuing paper-based processes has improved ECO and Quality processes as well as documentation compliance. They are also using Empower PLM for training records, CAPA, NCMR, RMA and Project management.

The integration between Omnify Empower and Epicor has eliminated duplicate data entry and any errors that were associated with the manual process. Part data now comes in from Omnify Empower and uploads to Epicor. “Omnify offers an unlimited number of attributes, which was very important to us as we required 15-20 attributes to be shared with Epicor,” noted Mrs. Kalarickal.  All MPM processes are performed in Omnify Empower with quantity, cost and configuration data sent to update picklists that are established in Epicor. The manufacturing department now gets involved early-on by utilizing Omnify’s MPM module, which feeds Epicor’s BOM Routing engine, which in turn passes that data to Aegis MES for a completely streamlined process.

“We believe we now have the advanced business systems that will take us many years into the future,” says Scott Johnson, senior vice president, Supply Chain and Inventory Management for Columbia Tech. “Omnify Software, Epicor and Aegis are tools that allow us to link directly with both our customers and suppliers to facilitate real-time information flows that will help us to drive accuracy and continuous improvement.” 

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