Life science meets data management


(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 3 2015)

The creation and management of complex product information including mapping, classification and digital media assets has become crucial for any business offering products and services. Hence, it became necessary for the Sartorius AG, which distributes complex laboratory products, to put into practice the successful implementation of a PIM system.

It all started at the Göttingen University, where former university mechanic Florenz Sartorius laid the foundation for his enterprise. In 1870, he opened the ‘Mechanical Workshop F. Sartorius.’ His groundbreaking invention, the short-beam analytical balance, revolutionised work in research laboratories. For 140 years, Sartorius technicians have continued to utilise the latest scientific discoveries to develop and manufacture innovative products.

In 1927, Sartorius, together with the chemist Richard Zsigmondy, who was awarded with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry two years before, founded the ‘Membranfiltergesellschaft mbh’. The membranes produced by Zsigmondy formed the basis for the development of membrane filtration and the current ‘Bioprocess Solutions’ activities by Sartorius. Even today, weighing and filtration are the core competencies in Sartorius’ broad and high-tech product range.

Over the years, the influence of legal regulations and their compliance, overly competitive thinking, and innovation within the industry forced a stronger drive for development. When the company willingly accepted digital channels in the new millennium, the necessity to innovate and to respond to the changing demands of the market increased further. The ability to cope with the complex information on products manufactured and distributed by Sartorius might prove to be the decisive factor that would tip the scale towards hesitation, survival, or leadership.

A previous PIM solution at Sartorius was comprised of a very manual process due to constraints imposed by the user interface, the inability to perform mass updates, very low functionality in the management of multiple taxonomies or workflow or multi-channel syndication, localisation or evaluation/governance.

However, in 2014, Sartorius engaged the software solutions providers Riversand Technologies and enscight as consulting partners for a project with requirements on product data modelling, product relationships, categories and taxonomy management, workflow, digital asset and media, services, components, configuration and bundling/kits, customer information & pricing, localisation and translated data. The project also required data integration for internet, e-procurement, SAP, customer relationship management (CRM) and digital and print assets.

Within a few months, the mixed team (Sartorius, enscight, and Riversand) managed to implement the PIM solution “MDMCenter” as the sole source of the master data system for compression, management and distribution of the company’s product data and the digital assets at Sartorius. The system met all the requirements previously provided by Sartorius. MDMCenter now allocates precise, powerful and automated data syndication through various channels such as e-procurement, e-commerce and others. With the PIM solution from Riversand, the enterprise has managed to shorten the extraction time for technical data operations for its e-Catalogue and the website from several hours to minutes. As Siamak Baharloo, vice president of Digital Platforms at Sartorius says: “We are convinced that we have made the right decision and the system has proven to be extremely efficient. The enscight team has also done a great job with the implementation, delivered outstanding quality and also stuck to our schedules and stayed within the financial framework we specified.”

The management of master data of complex and high-tech products such as distributed by Sartorius, requires the right tools, flexibility, cooperation, guaranteed governance, figuring of multiple structures, the interaction with digital media assets and syndication of information, all tailored to the company’s needs. Complex product data can be found in numerous industries that deal with laboratory products such as medical devices, pharmaceutical products, groceries, production, distribution, and retail.

Once you look at the complications compliance and regulations bring both globally and locally, for example in the medical device industry, PIM solutions become even more valuable. Take for example the impact of the International Medical Device Regulators Forum (IMDRF) or the Unique Device Identification (UDI) code of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the traceability of medicines or surgical instruments destined for use in laboratories or operating theatres. In order to enable corporate compliance with regards to the requirements for data transmission posed by these policies, more and more manufacturers of medical devices are looking for a PIM solution. This specialised software market not only dominates the aspects of data acquisition of the product or service during their life cycles, but is also significant in audits and reports which require businesses to manage the information within a constantly changing environment correctly and correspondingly.

The guidelines of IMDRF and UDI are examples of operators that highlight the need for PIM systems for organisations managing complex product information. Riversand Technologies has also set its eyes on certain key areas and service segments which can be evaluated in order to implement a variety of PIM and Master Data Management solutions successfully.

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Omer Farooque is the vice president of product strategy at Riversand and responsible for the roadmap of products and platforms in vertical industries in the areas of PIM and MDM. He has 16 years experience in the fields of software engineering, consulting, and high level management.

Riversand Technologies, Inc.


Sartorius AG

Picture credit © Coneyl Jay/Getty Images

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