Using Laserfiche Workflow Data To Eliminate Bottlenecks

RMS specializes in the contract manufacturing of complex, tight-tolerance medical device implants and surgical instruments related to: spine fracture, reconstructive orthopedics, cardiovascular components,  neurological stimulation components, drug delivery systems, and endoscopy devices.  The Minneapolis, Minnesota headquarters 154,000 square foot facilities focused on the manufacture of implants and endoscopy devices. The Memphis, Tennessee 21,000 square foot facility is dedicated solely to the manufacture of orthopedic instruments.  RMS manufacturing equipment includes over 300 highly-sophisticated CNC machines organized to utilize cellular workflow principles to achieve the lowest total cost. 

 RMS staff realized that it was getting more and more difficult to predict the order ship date as the number of orders grew to over one thousand a month.  They would have to continually notify customers of changes in ship dates.

RMS staff set out on a mission to determine the bottlenecks in their order entry/scheduling process and set goals to have firm order ship dates confirmed to the customer within 72 hours of receiving the order, reducing it from the average 7 weeks it was currently taking.

Vicky Benz, RMS’s CFO, said:  “When we had meeting to discuss what our bottlenecks were and how to improve our numbers, we had only people’s perception of what the problems were.  What they seemed to remember most were the jobs that had certain exceptions or issues.  We had a lot of data and reports to look at, but it was too much to even begin to analyze.”

“Luckily, we used Laserfiche Workflow to control every aspect of tracking and routing our jobs through our manufacturing process.  Laserfiche Workflow recorded every transaction in a SQL database.  We had three years of production data sitting in SQL that had all the detailed transactions; we just didn’t know to make sense out of the data.”

RMS hired Solbrack, a local Microsoft partner and Laserfiche VAR to assist with this project.  Chad Brinkman, Solbrekk’s SQL and Laserfiche expert, quickly realized that SQL 2005 Reporting Services was the tool  they needed to analyze the data and help determine the actual facts related to the manufacturing process.  Chad said, “ I used  the audit trail information stored in a couple of SQL tables in the LaserFiche SQL 2000 server, written a couple of stored procedures to compile the audit trails on the SQL 2000 server, calculated timing information, and stored them in SQL 2005 on another server .  Then I designed some SQL 2005 Reporting Services reports modeled after the business processes work flow RMS described for me based on the timing information r and rendered it to charts and graphs to help identify bottlenecks as the parts move from department to department.  Now, RMS has the ability to display a graph showing how each department, individual, part type, or job performed.“


When looking at the new reporting tool RMS has, Vicky Benz said,  “I am completely in awe of what Chad can do and what he can pull out of all  our raw data.”   We now have the tools to determine our bottlenecks. We can  make changes to our processes and track the results.  We now are able to work on achieving our goals and objectives.”

Larry Phelps

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Now that’s a great question!

I was recently asked an interesting question “Is it unusual that we are using Laserfiche Workflow, because it seems that many organizations similar to ours are not?”  Here was my response to her:

“I would say that you are ahead of many organizations your size.  They are just starting to realize that they need to work on their business processes, automating as many as possible.  I am working with a few clients similar to you and they are in the most difficult phase:  the definition phase.  During this phase, we found that the processes that management put in place were not often what was happening on a day-to-day basis.  It is quite time-consuming to follow the process, document what is actually happening, and then define what the correct process should be.  You have already done.

“Many organizations have not taken the steps you have because; they think it is too time consuming to define the process, the software is too expensive, and their staff does not have time to learn something new.

“But the organizations that have implemented Laserfiche Workflow have found that saving time is just one of the benefits they received.  Other benefits are:

1.       Management now knows exactly what the business process (workflow) is and that it was being followed each and every time.

2.       Training of new employees is easier because they don’t have to learn the business process rules, they just need to complete their part of the process, and Laserfiche Workflow takes care of the rest.

3.       Management can be alerted when a certain process is not completed in a timely manner.

4.       It is much easier to find where a file is in the process, rather than physically searching the office to find who has the file.

5.       The organization is less dependent on key employees who know the business process.

6.       The workflow does not stop if an employee is on vacation or leaves the organization.


“So, you are on the right track using Laserfiche Workflow.  And, in the near future, many organizations similar to yours will be doing the same.”

Larry Phelps

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