Mortara Instrument Finds Success from Shop-Trak: Part 2

Welcome back to the second part of our 2-part blog series featuring Mortara Instrument, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based manufacturer and their journey to revamp a paper-based document processing system that was stifling their path to rapid growth. As we witnessed at SyteLineCon 2016 and in our previous blog post, John Duren, Senior Vice President at Mortara Instrument, called in The Lake Companies for help when faced with the question of how to change their paper-based processes that were hindering their business.

The Solution

John Duren said at the conference that the first step towards eliminating paper in their business was altering Shop-Trak. They created a custom front-end for the Shop-Trak Visual Dispatch, so when an operator did a job, the serial number and labels were created automatically. The planner would then release a job and digitally process the job packet via Doc-Trak, where it would then show up on Shop-Trak’s Visual Dispatch for the operator to access right on the shop floor.

Duren said, “In the past we dragged packets of information around the floor. Now it’s all online for them to use. The materials are released as the job is going on. So when an operator completes an operation, they can see the material they have to issue for a job and they do it right there.”

As we saw in part 1 of our series, the FDA and other global entities require perfection from Mortara, both in product quality and the documentation process. The FDA specifically requires that any change or modification to a product must be documented.

“If we have a unit going down the line and something doesn’t work, we have to do a rework job on it,” said Duren. “Well we have the ability now in Shop-Trak to document electronically all the rework activities that went into the device.”

Instead of manually printing the numerous labels that go onto medical devices—serial number labels, part number labels, warning labels—all of that now is printed automatically, depending on the job configuration.

“Again with our new system, we can trace every critical component that we identify that goes into that part,” Duren said. “Rather than an operator sitting there with a pen doing the signature, the operator does it by a biometric scanner. We actually found the feature in Shop-Trak that lets you sign into Shop-Trak using biometrics. The Lake Companies was able to take that logic and put it in and let the operator use it as the approval step. So now instead of having to enter a password, they just scan their thumbprint.”

Duren went on to list other improvements they achieved with this solution.

“We created a PDF device history record that can be reviewed anytime in the process. We can have an FDA inspector on the floor look at 10 items on the assembly line that aren’t done and ask: What is the state of device number 3? Who approved it? What’s going on with it? We can pull up a screen automatically and show them what is going on.

And with that step we created a feature in Shop-Trak we call an E-Signature step. This allows us to have a specified quality requirement built into our Bill-of-Materials that will not let the operator pass out of the operation until all of the steps are done.

Finally, we have automated traceability to those critical components to serial lot numbers. Again, some of our devices may have 6 or 10 serial numbered items that all have to be rolled up into one major device. We have to know where all of those parts are.

We also have the ability to scan Test Reports that are generated on the production line and bundled to that device history record. There are some test items that we don’t have the ability to get an electronic print. We still have to have a physical print out. As the operator does that operation, they scan it automatically and it gets uploaded to the file. So when that unit hits the end of the production line, all of the documentation has been completed.

So we had two pathways with lots of extra work and lots of opportunities for error. Now it’s a paperless system. Again, we print the labels and job packets automatically. They are visible to the operator when they need it. The job information is automatically populated on our form for the existing tables in SyteLine. All of the required approvals and signatures are captured electronically where we specify them and there is also a feature we built in that says that a particular test value has to be between two certain numbers. We can set brackets on that range and the operator has to be within that, or else it flags out. All of the required test records are scanned and automatically attached.

Another major step for us is that the unit is automatically moved to a finished goods location and the raw materials are issued from inventory when that unit is completed versus having to wait for the entire job to be done.

Finally, electronic records are filed on our network for retrieval by us, an auditor, etc.”

Show Us The Money

What were the benefits of this process?

Mortara Instrument had a 25% reduction of indirect labor required of moving units into stock.

Duren said, “Time savings is about a minute per unit. Putting that into context, we do about 3,500 units per month. So there’s 3,500 minutes a month.”

Mortara also had an 80% reduction in direct labor on the manufacturing line to complete signatures and validations. That eliminated about 5 minutes per unit.

“There was a 90% reduction in cycle time discrepancies because we are moving everything in real-time now,” Duren said. “In the past, we waited to move our inventory when the job was done. Well that job may stretch over a day, 2 days, or a week. Things get lost and you’re really crippling inventory. We wanted to have everything as close to real-time as possible.”

Mortara completely eliminated the requirement for Quality Assurance to page through documents. “When you have 2 or 3 Quality Assurance Technicians looking at documents and making sure there are signatures on them—that’s really a waste of time. Those people can be doing things that make our process better,” Duren said.

Mortara no longer had to spend time scanning thousands of pages of all of those forms and putting them into their system. Cutting all of the scanning eliminated another 3 minutes per unit.

What does this all roll up to at the end of the day?

“Bottom line,” said Duren, “to factor all of your costs, $224,000 a year at current rates. If we double in size–$450,000–huge savings.”

It didn’t stop there.

Duren said, “We’ve taken Shop-Trak even further and now we have a shipping solution that we’ve created in Sop-Trak as well, and our test reports indicate that we’re going to have a gain that’s even bigger than that.”

The consistent result of the changes made by John Duren and Mortara is that each one was able to harvest a considerable amount of hidden cash that was negatively impacting productivity, increasing costs, and lowering the efficiency of all involved…even those who needed eDHR (electronic Device History Record) paperwork years after the product was produced.

The Lake Companies, Inc.

The Lake Companies sponsored SyteLineCon 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in early October and was overwhelmed by the gratitude and warm support we received from SyteLine users who attended the event from around the United States and other countries. It is our goal to make our customers more successful and holding the conference was not only a way to boost manufacturing attendees to improve their manufacturing operations management (MOM) but it was also a way for us to give back to the SyteLine community of users. We are always here to help and we will do whatever it takes to make you and your company more successful. Contact us to see how we can help your organization.