Reducing New Product Development Time at Invacare

Medical products manufacturer sees 25 percent design cycle time reduction using product lifecycle management solution from SmarTeam

Kfar Saba, Israel — January 30, 2004 — Home medical products provider Invacare has implemented a collaborative product lifecycle management (PLM) system based on a solution from SmarTeam, resulting in reduced design cycles and increased productivity.

Headquartered in Elyria, Ohio, Invacare manufactures medical products, rehab products, respiratory products and medical supplies. The company has 12 manufacturing plants in North and Central America, Europe and Australasia.

The company has seen a high rate of product introductions of late, rolling out 75 new products to replace 90 percent of its major equipment product line sales in 2003.

To help keep up with this rate of innovate, Invacare implemented a system based on SmarTeam's SMARTEAM solution, including modules for automated document management, collaborative design and Web-based worldwide sourcing and procurement.

"We needed a good [product data management (PDM)] system to manage, document and leverage our large volume of complex product data," said Tom Herb, manager of Invacare's corporate documentation group.

According to the solution provider, the SMARTEAM solution has enabled Invacare to fully automate its document processing. Invacare employees can now access product design data from any of its many globally distributed facilities in a standard data format, generate design drawings automatically, share design data with colleagues, vendors and suppliers, and create a collaborative environment linking its remote sites.

"SMARTEAM solutions have definitely allowed us to get closer to a true collaborative environment with our remote facilities and enabled us to make tremendous headway in making our documentation efforts more efficient," said Herb.

Neal Curran, vice president of engineering and product development at Invacare, pointed to productivity boosts as a result of the implementation. "We have reduced our design cycle time from 12 to nine months," Curran said. "A better design platform, improved access to design data and more efficient data management and documentation allow our engineers to continue to support operational initiatives as well as increase work on new product development."

cSHARE, a SMARTEAM reseller and integrator based in the U.S. Midwest, helped Invacare define its computer-aided design (CAD) and PDM standards and develop strategies for working with internal users and external suppliers. The reseller is working with Invacare to further expand the SMARTEAM solution across a range of different product development and lifecycle collaboration needs.

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