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Clients + SPK Expertise And Skills = R&D Business Results (Q2 2018 Newsletter)

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Written by Edwin Chung
Published on July 10, 2018

It’s been SPK and Associates’ privilege to support all our clients’ varied engineering and systems integration needs for over two decades. This quarterly newsletter is our way of signaling that we’re fully aligned with their mission to rapidly innovate and improve their technologies and products.

Hybrid Cloud Done Right

To be considered an outstanding research and development organization, a medical device company must innovate. This ensures patients have the best healthcare products—and it preserves the company’s market edge. Because of this demand, a medical device client decided its R&D must be capable of flexibly accessing scalable computing and internet resources, based on demand.

To continue to excel at product innovation without incurring huge up-front installation costs, the client decided to deploy a mixed private-public cloud-based solutions set. The hybrid system’s requirements included: robust and redundant storage systems; big data solutions; a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) development platform; and a lab monitoring website.

To execute this project efficiently and speedily, the client turned to SPK, a hybrid cloud deployment expert. Together, SPK the client’s information systems staff designed, configured and rolled out a hybrid cloud platform, using a dedicated Amazon Web Services instance as the on-demand backbone.

Data and content run back and forth from the client’s internal secure network to a dedicated private cloud, using the client’s own authentication systems. The client connects to AWZ via a redundant virtual private network (VPN) connection. The R&D staff can now seamlessly and securely access the dedicated AWZ-based resource management application, while getting updates from the new real-time lab monitoring website.

SPK Client Boosts Speed For PTC Integrity Quality Control

As part of its product development processes, one key SPK client uses PTC Integrity Lifecycle Manager. This solution tracks changes and requirements and shares them within the system for consistency. This application supports performance qualification as a routine component of computer system validation processes. The PTC application’s qualification feature has an embedded performance testing tool. However, running this testing tool during validations eats up time, resources and manpower (in this case, typically several engineers at distributed sites).  

To streamline this process, this client turned to SPK to automate the performance qualification testing workflows. The enhancements support creating content-rich documents and quickly viewing them through the native PTC graphical user interface, and time-stamping the process. End users can quickly and accurately see everything relevant, including test protocols. The results are gathered and presented as objective evidence, verifying that the performance criteria were met. The tool is also reusable for ongoing performance checking.

Customers Reap The Benefits

Internal staff at two hospitals kept facing repeated equipment issues from a vendor that does business with SPK. However, despite repeated efforts, this client’s internal R&D, customer care, and quality teams tasked with problem-solving were unable to perform root-cause analysis. The client then turned to SPK, which offered a holistic remedial approach, with extensive systems engineering know-how. Together with the client and the client teams, SPK specialists analyzed and solved each issue. Now, the customers enjoy a greater satisfaction level, while the client has gained new insights into potential issues with its gear. The project’s success also saves time and money by eliminating the need to repeatedly dispatch problem-solving teams to the two customer sites.

SPK Delivers Custom Java Database To Streamline Business Processes

To streamline operations, save time, and support its unique work requirements, one client’s specialized unit required a custom-written database management system. An SPK team met with the database stakeholders last January to discuss the project’s specific business needs and functional requirements.

SPK learned the proposed database had to offer the basic features and the user-friendliness of Microsoft Excel. Drawing from extensive application experience, SPK developers created a set of storyboards and requirements. Using this framework, the coders wrote a custom Java application. After the database passes its testing phase, SPK will deploy it to all designated end users.

JIRA: Managers See Status Of Glitch Fixes Via Custom Connector

One customer end user wanted to accurately see the status of bug fixes inside the JIRA for Project Management application. JIRA didn’t support this function natively, so, the customer turned to SPK, which had the JIRA and coding expertise to create a custom connection. An SPK coder adjusted JIRA’s fields, workflows, and configuration capabilities to accurately show the progress of bug detection and elimination. This new integrated system is currently in testing.

SPK Programming Savvy = Faster Issue Resolution

Many engineering and development organizations leverage the robust and complex Solidworks CAD design platform from Dassault Systems. However, such systems often are buggy, slowing down engineering projects. Because we at SPK work closely with many design teams, we have special insights into detecting and addressing such software glitches. One fix involved a Solidworks bug that rendered a stacked thin-layer model output incorrectly. Our team created a Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) macro fix that produced the correct result, saving our customer 40-plus hours of weekly design time.

Cutting Time And Cost by Sharing/Validating Engineering Data

Another SPK customer wanted engineering data (entered initially through the Solidworks product data management platform) to integrate with Dynamics 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based business applications system. So, after defining the requirements, SPK coders independently wrote a connector, which synchronized data between the two systems. This enabled two completely different mission-critical systems to operate in parallel — without requiring the time and expense of employees validating and reconciling the data between them.

Bring Balance To Software Resource Consumption

Are you going over budget for your engineering licenses — while still coming up short in application resources when your R&D teams are trying to make deadlines? For any customer that needs more insight and control into its license consumption, SPK is going to offer License Miner, an engineering license management and reporting tool.

This new cloud-accessible solution will:

  •        Allow you to analyze software license usage
  •        Generate reports to share with decision-makers
  •        Pinpoint license overuse and bottlenecks
  •        Ultimately improve usage patterns and reduce costs

SPK License Manager will enter beta testing in October: We welcome interested clients to sign on to test it.

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