Retinal Imaging Device Manufacturer Hits the Bullseye with MRP Software
“MRPeasy is the most useful piece of software I’ve seen in at least 10 years,” says RetiVue’s project manager Lindsey Daniels about her experience with their manufacturing software. “Compared to the other software providers, MRPeasy was clearly focused on operational excellence rather than advertising and closing sales.”
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A small medical device company with a grand vision
RetiVue is a medical device manufacturer from Charlottesville, Virginia, that produces retinal imaging tools that allow ophthalmologists to see the back surface of their patients’ eyes. This enables eye doctors to discover pathologies, monitor the course of their conditions, and see whether treatment is having the desired effect.
Although there were solutions on the market that fulfilled this function before, these devices were either large, heavy, and very expensive, or provided a poor-quality photo of the retina. To remedy this situation, RetiVue was founded.
The company, started by an eye surgeon, initially focused on research but within the last couple of years has started to move more into manufacturing. Today, the company still continues its research but is also getting its first units out of the door. And they do it all with a team of only four people.
Managing production with spreadsheets was unsustainable
Managing the production of complex high-tech devices with only four people is hard enough. Adding a ton of research into the mix makes it all the more impressive that RetiVue is not buckling under the workload. In a company where all employees wear several very heavy hats, they have found a support system in MRP software.
“Before I started, there was no system,” says Lindsey Daniels, Project Manager at RetiVue. “There was no documentation about what part went where, everything was just in someone’s head.”
Daniels recalls how she started out with spreadsheets, entering over a hundred parts with all of the associated data. At one point, another employee was given the task of conducting an inventory count and while doing that, they jumbled up the document, making it unusable.
“I realized that this was not going to work,” says Daniels. “A spreadsheet system was not going to be sustainable, especially considering the traceability regulations we had to comply with. Everything needs to be tracked if you manufacture medical devices, nothing can get lost.”
A software provider focusing on operational excellence
As nothing starts in RetiVue without extensive research, Daniels started probing the software market in search of a solution that would have provided the company with robust manufacturing inventory management functionality as well as end-to-end traceability. She took advantage of various software review sites and ended up with several possible matches, but in the end decided to implement MRPeasy.
“Compared to the other software providers, MRPeasy was clearly focused on operational excellence rather than advertising and closing sales,” Daniels states. “I don’t want someone to give me flashy demos and a sales pitch, I just want something that works.”
She also found it reassuring that MRPeasy allows people to see the user manual and documentation without being a customer. While other software providers were often dodging questions about whether their product could solve an issue RetiVue was facing, MRPeasy had made all of their product documentation available.
“I could just go and see for myself what they offered and how it worked before making a commitment,” she says. “And after going through the free trial, I was convinced.”
Using online materials to implement the software single-handedly
Implementation of the software started in the fall of 2021 and took around two months before Daniels had set up what she considered the most important: parts management. She took it upon herself to learn the ins and outs of the software by using MRPeasy’s online training resources including an array of how-to videos. Then, she taught her colleagues how to use the new software.
“I work with these savant-type researchers and engineers who generally dislike organizational stuff and recordkeeping,” she says. “But now they begrudgingly have to admit that the system has proven beneficial.”
After the initial inventory setup, she gradually rolled out additional functionality such as procurement and production management. Another vital functionality Daniels focused on was quality inspections. As medical device manufacturers have to have verification reports available for every step of the way, an effective inspections process was crucial for making their product market-ready.
“We had to modify our inspection workflow a bit to ensure that it would match the level of organization present in the software,” Daniels admits. “But it was very necessary.”
Managing everything in a single cross-functional system
By 2022, they had finished the development of their product along with the implementation of the new software. That same year, they sent out their very first unit, managed and tracked entirely in MRPeasy, from customer order to fulfillment.
With a year and a half of using the software, the benefits have become all the more apparent. RetiVue now has full product traceability, meaning that they can see each event in the product’s and its components’ history and easily comply with related industry regulations. They can also collect vast amounts of data without becoming lost in it.
“I can click on a part and find a two-year-old purchase order related to it, see the different versions of the part, track its price changes, and so on,” Daniels says. “The information is very easily accessible thanks to the search and filter functions.”
Another important benefit of MRPeasy reported by Daniels is the system’s end-to-end functionality. Everything related to the manufacturing side of RetiVue is managed within a single integrated system where all modules – inventory, procurement, production planning, etc. – interact with each other.
“Many businesses have separate systems for all of the various functions of the operation, but the fact that ours all talk to each other is indispensable,” she affirms.
The most useful software seen in the last 10 years
Comparing MRPeasy with other software she has used over the years, Daniels highlights that it is one of the first solutions that feels like it has been actually designed for small manufacturers specifically. This is very apparent in the way user permissions are handled in the system. While software that is designed for larger companies has predefined roles, MRPeasy allows administrators to customize the permissions per user. According to Daniels, this is very useful in companies like RetiVue where every employee wears multiple hats.
“I feel that the software would work as well in a single-person business as in a company of a hundred,” she says. “It is obvious that MRPeasy gives us a lot of room to grow.”
While MRP software used to be a tool used only by large enterprises with a huge amount of resources, during the last decade, these solutions have been made available to even the smallest players. Although the benefits are evident, many small companies are still reluctant to implement new systems. Daniels believes that this is due to the expectation that properly implementing MRP software is difficult and time-consuming.
“Be that as it may, a small investment of time put into learning and implementing MRP software will save you ten times as much time next year,” she maintains. “Of course, not all systems can deliver that, but MRPeasy can. It is undoubtedly the most useful piece of software I have seen in at least 10 years.”
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