Case Study

Case Study: Align Technology

As developer and manufacturer of a popular new line of invisible braces, Align Technology faced the challenge of managing collaboration between teams in Santa Clara, California and Pakistan on files used to develop Invisalign molded orthodontic braces. Dental image files averaging over 10+ Megabytes each needed to undergo a complicated series of manipulations with proprietary modeling software at the company's central facility in Santa Clara, California and then be transitioned via a dedicated T1 line to a manufacturing facility in Pakistan for molding and manufacture.

Several issues presented challenges for the Align Technology implementation:

  • Complex modeling and manufacturing processes meant that Align Technology needed to automate a reliable, efficient process for each file to be processed and checked prior to delivery to Pakistan for manufacture;
  • Large files and growing popularity of the Invialign braces meant the installation needed to be able to scale to store large volumes of large-format CAD dental files;
  • Increasing popularity of the invisible braces meant the installation had to scale to support heavy traffic of CAD file transfers, estimated at up to 10,000 files in progress at any given point in time;
  • Unreliable T1 lines running to Pakistan meant that file server replication was essential to ensure uninterrupted productivity for the remote manufacturing facility;
  • Unreliable T1 lines also meant that the system needed to be able to "guarantee" the completeness of file server replication to prevent file loss;
  • Proprietary software necessary for manipulation and preparation of files prior to manufacture meant that the chosen product needed to facilitate integrations quickly;
  • A vision for the projected growth of the business plus required interoperability with other systems meant that a Java/J2EE architecture was essential.

The Align Technology solution is built on the Quickstream e-Content Management Platform installed on an NT platform running SQL Server. The Quickstream Process Flow plug-in plus customized search views regulate end-user interactions with the system so each Align employee sees only files in the "state" he/she works with. Once files have gone through processing and approval at the Santa Clara facility, the Quickstream Replication Server moves copies of the files automatically to a copy of the Quickstream e-Content Management Platform installed in Pakistan. The configuration includes 13 named states/21 named transitions with over 35 named states/80 transitions planned.

The Quicksteam e-Content Management Platform
The Quickstream Platform provides a highly customizable, integratable and scalable architecture for centralization, access, search, versioning and tracking of all electronic file formats over the Web. The Platform, which is built around J2EE standards, features an open API comprising over 70 objects to ensure maximum versatility for customization and integration.

The Quickstream Process Flow Plug-in
The Quickstream Process Flow plug-in complements delivers flexible, customizable, integrated "flow automation" to ensure complex series of transitions are completed. It utilizes the objects in the Quickstream Platform API.

The Quickstream Replication Server (QRS)
The QRS utilizes two technologies -- a Java Messaging Service (in this case, the IBM Swift MQ) to guarantee delivery of information; and the Quickstream Process Flow plug-in provide modeling of the replication process flow to exactly fit Align Technology's needs.