Upcoming IntraStage Versions

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I just sat in a product roadmap meeting for IntraStage versions 4.4 and 5.0, and it looks like we have some exciting changes coming.

The development team has been busy soliciting design changes from our customers, and they’ve been working on some significant modifications and improvements to the IntraStage solution.

Stay tuned: we can’t say too much more yet, but we’ll give some details closer to the V4.4 and V5.0 release dates scheduled for later this year.

Cisco Implements homebuilt Test Data Management Solution

In 1994 Cisco System’s Manufacturing Team announced the strategic intent of being the undisputed world leader in Supply Chain Management. By 2001, Cisco had implemented a ‘virtual factory’ in which almost every function of production and fulfillment was performed through an outsourced network.  These functions included Parts Procurement, Material Management, Sub Assembly Outsourcing etc.

In 2010, Cisco began to roll out the next phase of this virtual factory through an internally developed software solution called Cesium. Cesium allows the Cisco Manufacturing Team to connect virtually and tap into the manufacturing data of thousands of suppliers and manufacturers to achieve real-time visibility into quality trends.  Cisco says that it can respond more quickly to quality trends and events with access to accurate quality data from its supply network (source Managing Automation April 09, 2010).

Cisco has no plans to market Cesium as a commercial offering, though they do recognize the advantages of maintaining such a solution. “We see quality as a competitive advantage for Cisco,” said Roger Bhikha, Cisco’s Senior Director of Systems and Component Quality. In addition to improved data-quality collection, Cesium is expected to improve Cisco’s component-level compliance and traceability by 20%.

As Cisco realizes the benefits of connecting to their Supply Chain with an automated data collection, analysis and database solution other companies do not necessarily have the financial and human resources required to develop an internal solution.  IntraStage can provide a proven, off-the-shelf alternative for those companies which desire a quick, less costly solution with comparable features and capabilities.

Getting Visibility into Quality

Out-source manufacturing is a de-facto matter of business necessity for most OEM and ODM manufacturing companies. It is estimated that in 2008 (source IDC) that the assembly value of the global electronics market was close to $1 trillion dollars, with roughly $300 billion being outsourced. With this rising share of outsourced manufacturing, the cost saving benefits are well known and proven.  What is unknown and still a struggle to solve is the state of the product’s quality when shipped to the customer.

I believe the fundamental part of this problem is how to strike the right balance of trust between the OEM and outsource manufacturer to achieve the desired quality.

Here are some interesting excerpts  taken from a study done in 2006 by Venture Outsource:

Comments from OEMs that were asked what outsource manufacturing companies could do to improve overall trust:

  • “Be accountable and be able to share real-time data.”

Comments from outsource manufacturers on what they should be improving:

  • “Improve overall performance, including quality and delivery lead-time.”
  • “Increase transparency while at the same time indicating that the company must be a profit-seeking enterprise if it is to serve its customers’ long-term best interests.”

My takeaways from this study is that visibility of quality data both historically and in real-time are key enablers for bridging this trust gap. With the right level of information sharing, trust can be built and ultimately allow the relationship to be stronger.


Harsh Wanigaratne

VP Marketing, IntraStage Inc.