Advanced technology is key to communication and collaboration these days. However, at AbbVie—the pharmaceutical giant that produces life-changing drugs like Humira—technical hurdles were limiting effective communication throughout the organization. From their manufacturing plant in Worcester, MA, to their Research & Development sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, leaders at Abbvie saw tremendous opportunities to improve collaboration. Unfortunately, it seemed they were limited by legacy systems that struggled to work with more modern technology.
Designing and Implementing a State-of-the-art Electronic Bulletin Board System for a Plant in Worcester, MA
As a Controls Engineering Manager for AbbVie, Mike Berard oversaw the automation and engineering professionals who ran the day-to-day operations for a research and manufacturing facility in Worcester, MA. Mike, however, envisioned something far more advanced and interactive. He wanted a message board that displayed things like key updates, shift information, and materials transfers, but that wasn’t all. He also required an interactive system that included:
● Sensors that could detect malfunctioning equipment, such as an overheating boiler, so the bulletin board system could produce alerts immediately
● 55” wall-mount touch-screen TVs so engineers could instantly interact with the system, halting production immediately when necessary and updating information
● Common access to information that took into consideration security parameters, ensuring that sensitive data remained private while important information could be disseminated to the plant’s 1,000 employees
It was a tall order, but Mike knew what he wanted and he was certain it would have an immense, positive impact on productivity and ROI—assuming the system worked with AbbVie’s legacy software. IT considered it impossible, but Rich believed it could be done.
Could Rich Build a Customized, Cost-effective Solution that Worked with the Legacy Software?
Pharmaceutical companies are heavily regulated and deal with mountains of sensitive data. As such, they have strict, established processes that they can’t change quickly or carelessly, which is why they rely on the same software systems for many years. After all, migrating to new software could cost them millions of dollars in lost productivity as they work out the kinks in a new system. The trouble with legacy software is that it doesn’t always integrate well with the latest technology. Mike wanted to display information on the monitors in a variety of formats, and while the digital signage systems supported formats like PowerPoint, PDF, and Word, they struggled to support a legacy 32-bit application that displayed the monitoring of boilers and other equipment.
Rich rolled up his sleeves and taught himself how to write his own custom script that would work with the 32-bit application—at a small fraction of what the automation software would have cost. The new software used Rich’s customized script to process equipment information, display files on the screens in any format, and it did everything else Mike envisioned. What’s more? Rich negotiated a phenomenal deal on the 55” touch-screen TVs.
Paving the Way for Innovation Rich Messinger understands that sometimes, rather than making businesses more productive, technology becomes a bottleneck that impedes innovation. And far too often, IT departments place the blame on end-users when they hit a roadblock.
Rich believes that technology should pave the way for innovation, allowing great minds to share ideas, collaborate, and build products that move the world forward. With this in mind, he will stop at nothing to deliver solutions that boost productivity, increase revenue, and spark new discoveries. Simply put, if there’s a solution, Rich will discover it. And if one doesn’t already exist? He will roll up his sleeves and build his own from scratch.
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