On-demand PLM supports a virtual business model

SafeView,a three-year-old start-up, is the epitome of a virtual manufacturing enterprise. Its product designers and other engineers are scattered across the country, but all report to a manager located at the company's headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif. A Boise, Idaho-based contract manufacturer builds SafeView's products, which include security-scanning devices for airports and...

11/01/2005


SafeView, a three-year-old start-up, is the epitome of a virtual manufacturing enterprise. Its product designers and other engineers are scattered across the country, but all report to a manager located at the company's headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif. A Boise, Idaho-based contract manufacturer builds SafeView's products, which include security-scanning devices for airports and public buildings.

To make this model work, SafeView management knew the company needed a flexible product life-cycle management (PLM) system. As a start-up, it also needed a system that would be inexpensive to both purchase and maintain.

Those factors led SafeView to Arena Solutions , which offers an on-demand PLM application that it bills as the perfect product for small and medium-size manufacturers. "Outsourcing has become a way of life for small and-medium-size manufacturers," says Pam Kostka, a company VP. "If they're going to get a product to market, they have to consider outsourcing and virtual manufacturing. It's the only way to manage costs."

Two things sold SafeView on Arena: its flexibility, and the software-as-a-service model. "When I started to look at a PLM system, we didn't even have a product, only a technology license," says Karen Meyer, SafeView's VP of operations. "We had no idea what our system requirements were. We needed flexibility, and we didn't want to spend a lot of money on IT. As a start-up, you don't even know if you're going to be around in a year."

SafeView depends on Arena to maintain accurate versions of all of its product information during the design, manufacturing, and service phases—in a single location. That entails managing records on more than 800 parts—80 percent of which are custom made—for each product.

The Arena system has "financial-grade security," says Kostka. It offers both password- and permission-controlled access, and the ability to see who is logging into the system in real time.

Meyer says it's hard to quantify SafeView's success with Arena PLM, but she has a good rough gauge: "We developed a product from scratch in nine months, and shipped our first product nine months after that."



PROFILE:

User : SafeView, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based virtual manufacturer of security scanning systems for airports and public buildings.

Challenge : Find a product life-cycle management (PLM) system with the flexibility and price point to support virtual manufacturing of an 800-part product.

Solution : Arena Solutions On-Demand PLM

Results : Using Arena PLM, SafeView brought its product from idea to installation in 18 months, while investing venture capital in product development rather than software or manufacturing infrastructure.



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