Seamless Batch Tracing

microcuff, a midsize business established in 2001, specializes in innovative medical products and components. The company, with its ten staff, produces micro-thin balloon films from polyurethane (PUR), which are an innovative alternative to conventional catheter balloons made from PVC, silicone or latex. These balloon films can be used to significantly improve products such as tracheal tubes, balloon nasal tamponades or fistula drainages in both functional and hygienic terms. These films also open up new opportunities for medical applications, for example in minimal pressure filling, homogenous pressure exertion in complex bodily cavities or for highly effective sealing. microcuff uses a clean room with specially designed industrial machines for its production operations.

Wanted – a complete business solution

In light of demanding legal requirements, the company, as a manufacturer of medical products, must be able to seamlessly trace the raw materials used in production and meet high hygiene and quality standards. “So we need to know which supplier batches come from and which customer we have delivered which end product to,” explains Christian Kirschner, commercial manager at microcuff. “For this, we need the greatest possible transparency throughout all business processes.” That proved difficult with the software previously deployed, as microcuff worked with Microsoft Excel but also with a standalone solution which it used for order processing.
“Our software situation was badly in need of improvement,” is how Kirschner describes the shortcomings. This assessment made the microcuff management team look for an integrated and cost-effective complete business solution which met the following three requirements: The solution needed to cover all necessary functions, particularly in terms of quality assurance (batch tracing), it had to be fast to implement, and be both technologically and economically future-proof in order to be able to grow with the company. Kirschner compared the solutions of various suppliers, including SAP Business One, the SAP standard solution for smaller businesses, and obtained various quotes. In the end, the SAP SME solution was chosen as it was the only one that met all of microcuff’s needs. “The SAP solution also impressed us with its ease of use and excellent price/performance ratio,” adds Kirschner.

Fast implementation and excellent collaboration

microcuff selected SAP business partner SOTEC, which had skillfully presented the SAP SME solution, as an implementation partner. The project started in June 2004 and finally went live in November 2004. Implementing the new business software took no more than ten days in all. At the moment, three users are working on SAP Business One.
Thanks to the SAP software, microcuff has integrated all business processes. It was particularly concerned about the issue of batch tracing. “SAP Business One wasn’t able to map this completely in the standard version owing to special processes in place at the customer’s,” remembers Frank Bielefeld, manager of the Solutions Business Unit at Laudenbach-based SAP business partner SOTEC. This also affected part of the production outsourced to Asia. Goods manufactured there need to be recorded in SAP Business One and assigned to the components supplied.
However, SOTEC was quickly able to solve this problem. “We wrote special query programs adapted to microcuff’s business processes, and ensuring 100% transparency in batch tracing,” says Ralf Bopp, consultant at SOTEC. Christian Kirschner thus particularly commends the excellent collaboration with SAP business partner SOTEC. “The consultants from SOTEC reacted quickly and flexibly to queries at all times, developing solutions promptly and implementing them equally rapidly. This was particularly true when mapping the complex batch problems in SAP Business One, an area which is so important to us.” The fact that invoices in foreign currencies can now be paid and issued as standard in SAP Business One is naturally a particular benefit to microcuff for production in Asia.

Integrating processes, cutting costs

microcuff intends to use the SAP software to expand and optimize customer and supplier management. The management team therefore decided to combine the benefits of CRM (customer relationship management) functionality from SAP Business One with additional contact management software to achieve a comprehensive telephony and contact tool. To do this, SOTEC incorporated Cobra Address Plus software in SAP Business One via a specially developed interface.
Manager Christian Kirschner is fully satisfied. “By integrating all business areas, we succeeded in optimizing reporting processes and ensuring batch tracing.” Implementation costs for the SAP SME software were also lower than originally estimated as “SOTEC was able to execute implementation on the existing IT infrastructure,” he adds happily. Only a few minor adjustments were necessary to optimize existing hardware resources. “This saved money that we would otherwise have had to spend on expensive new acquisitions. SAP Business One was the right choice in yet another respect too,” says Kirschner. “The SAP SME software shares the maxim we apply when developing our own products – that solutions should be practical, and not for show.”

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Dr. Andreas Schaffry
Dr. Andreas Schaffry