How Orchid Orthopedic Solutions leveraged Rivers Agile to improve performance
Among the transformational activities Orchid Orthopedic Solutions has pursued is one that sought to improve its manufacturing performance and decrease down time. Achieving that end at the medical device contract manufacturing company would come through a cross pollination of information and operations technologies, and it would be executed with the help of Rivers Agile.
“Typically, in the past, you’ve seen the OT space in the IT space being separate,” says Jeff Phillips, Senior Director of IT at Orchid Orthopedic Solutions. “But more and more they’re starting to merge. We ended up with a project where it was information technology that we wanted to build in such a way that it can be readily available to our operators and team leads.”
Orchid Orthopedic, with its more than 1,500 skilled employees in major markets around the world, was focused on amplifying through technology a concept in the lean world called hour by hour, an exercise that monitors production progress, by putting relevant data at its operators’ fingertips.
“We didn’t have that data, and some of the site leaders wanted that data because if we can identify the problem sooner rather than later, we can solve it sooner and then maybe save a day or save a week,” Phillips says.
The company wanted one app to serve as the launch pad for operators. Data captured via the app would include quantities and times for reason codes, enabling an effective Pareto analysis to resolve the most common reasons for downtime.
Orchid Orthopedic had identified the platform it wanted to use, but it didn’t have the expertise to execute on the solution it needed. So, the company looked for a partner, one that had worked with the platform they had in mind. The company, through its network, was introduced to Rivers Agile. After some initial conversations, the software solutions firm was brought in to handle the app’s development. But it wouldn’t be the only outside partner.
Orchid Orthopedic was already engaged with a designer on the app it was building. So, Rivers Agile took the requirements from Orchid Orthopedic and the design input from the third-party design company and began to iterate on the build. Phillips, who’s company is accustomed to utilizing outside vendors for these types of projects, says when two third-party companies are asked to work on the same project, sometimes there’s static. But that wasn’t the case in this instance. Where there was the need to address design compatibility issues, Phillips says Rivers Agile was very good at raising awareness and then working with the group to execute on the solution.
“That’s exactly what you would want,” Phillips says. “You don’t want this kind of negative feedback — ‘Well, we would do it that way’ — and we never got any sense of that from Rivers Agile.”
Valuable and timely communication
Something Rivers Agile brought to the project that Orchid Orthopedic needed was a good way to do source code control with the platform. Rivers Agile, he says, took that on, and devised a good methodology for version control in the platform.
“That was one of the advantages of going with somebody like Rivers Agile is that even though they might not have known the platform 100 percent yet, they had done enough with enough different products that they knew how to do it and make it usable going forward,” he says.
Communication was frequent, Phillips says, and there was a single point of contact on the Rivers Agile team relaying back their progress and the status of project elements.
“It flowed very well. I don’t think there was a time when we were like, ‘Okay, there’s this black hole. What’s going on now?’ That didn’t exist,” he says. “You see that sometimes with some partners you work with is they just go away and then they come back two months later and they’re like, ‘Okay. This is what we got.’ And it’s only 70 percent right. That’s another reason why working with a company like Rivers Agile, who were using agile development and doing weekly sprints, is you just get a little bit better sense that everything’s going in the right direction because you see it so often.”
Extension of the team
With the project completed, Phillips says the company quickly quadrupled the number of sites that use the platform. Now they are positioned to save thousands of dollars by having greater visibility into the source of downtime issues, which helps them address stoppages faster.
“Data is the new gold,” he says. “You can start to analyze that data. Even if you’re not fully automating the process, you’re starting to get some data, you’re starting to get corporate visibility versus just site-level or maybe even department-level visibility. So taking that, little bits at a time, has really allowed Orchid to move really fast.”
Rivers Agile, Phillips says, was a great partner on the project, in part because of the firm’s frequent communication and unselfishness working with the third-party designer.
“It went very well, almost to the point where Rivers Agile was just an extension of our team,” he says. Phillips encourages other manufacturers to seek opportunities to adopt digital transformation, saying it’s necessary in order to make processes more efficient and effective.
“You’re not going to get there by making better manual processes,” he says. “You’re not going to see the true savings until you automate.”
For those who are looking to take on technology projects of their own, he offers this advice: “Find a partner that will move with you,” he says. “It just makes you go even faster because at some point, internal resources are going to be your limiting factor in terms of doing these projects. So, you’ve got to step outside of your four walls and go find someone to help you do it.”
Rivers Agile is here to help your business adapt. Whether it’s stabilizing your engineering output, protecting your project delivery or scaling your technology to meet demand – we can help you meet the challenge. Reach out and let’s start the conversation!
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