Creation team members first heard about We Share Solar when Diana Ferrari, Director of Central Engineering at Creation Technologies learned about a suitcase building event at St Agnes of Assisi, where her daughter Julia attends school. Diana couldn’t stop thinking about how to help this program as part of Creation’s Making a Difference initiative and one phone call to We Share Solar Co-Director and Co-Founder Gigi Goldman and they both realized that it was a perfect match.
The VAVE engineers at the Creation Milwaukee Business Unit connected with Hal Aronson, Co-founder and Director of We Share Solar, and discussed different avenues for creating a lower cost educational kit, the WSS601. Our commodity managers and Vice President of Commodity Management, Steve McEuen sourced and quoted the material and was able to create the kit at a price below We Share Solar’s target.
Once we agreed to move forward and quote the project for manufacturing it was turned over to Robert Flores, Business Development Director for Creation Express Services out of San Jose, California. Robert met with Hal Aronson to discuss their cost expectations and timelines. Robert also worked very closely with Creation team members Chuck Herman, Customer Focused Team Leader and Juanita Wright, Procurement Specialist to make sure the project went smoothly. “What really helped to get the project quoted and into production was communication,” said Robert Flores. “I was in constant communication with Hal, and then Chuck, Juanita, and I were meeting on a daily basis to discuss any changes to ensure the project kept moving forward to meet the aggressive deadlines, and we made sure everyone involved was kept up-to-date.“ Chuck and Juanita both agreed communication was the key to success. Hal had given Creation some very aggressive timelines for delivery which could have been challenging due to some long lead time parts. Juanita was able to find substitutions for those parts with shorter lead times and while we had already exercised a VAVE to drive out cost, Juanita was able to find even more cost savings and the project actually came in under budget.
Wendy Cross, Program Manager with We Share Solar, which is the specific group focused on these cases, was very impressed with the team in San Jose. “Once everything was approved we were in a time crunch to ship with the start of the school year. Chuck and the team in San Jose were able to ship 30 kits a day. We exceeded the estimated schedule and shipped out well over 200 in the first week,” said Wendy.
We Care Solar facilitates the international deployment piece. The model is that each school gets 6-8 suitcases, they keep 6 and deploy 2. Each year participating schools will fundraise to try and buy more. The teachers are very excited to have humanitarian project based learning as well as an opportunity to learn about wiring and circuitry. Currently most of the cases are deployed to Kenya and Uganda so students can have lighting giving them more access to resources. We Share Solar works with partners in Kenya that do the installation work, liaison in terms of choosing schools and in addition can help with maintenance.
And there is more!!! October 24-25 there will be a Creation We Share Solar training event in Creation’s San Jose Business Unit. Creation representatives from various business units and Creation Design Services will be on hand to learn how to lead suitcase building workshops. They will eventually host workshops with children in their home cities. Look for future updates on these events!
Let’s be honest, tradeshows can be a bit crazy. With massive exhibition spaces filled with an infinite amount of people, booths and conference sessions over multiple days, it can sometimes be overwhelming to make best use of your time (especially if it’s your first visit to a particular show).
While MD&M West is not as big as a CES or Comic Con, it is one of the largest medical technology tradeshows in the world, attracting more than 20,000 engineers and executives. It’s a great place to be.
Because designing and manufacturing medical devices is a huge part of what Creation does best, we enjoy making the annual trek to Anaheim, CA (really not so much a trek as a hop, skip and a jump from our San Jose location) to exhibit, network and learn about the trends in the industry.
For medical device OEMs planning on attending MD&M this February, we created a guide based on our experience that will help you maximize your time, conserve your energy, and get the most ROI out of your trip.
Do Your Homework
This might seem like common sense, but it is always a good idea to get familiar with the lay of the land ahead of time and start planning.
You wouldn’t go to Disneyland without mapping out which rides or shows to visit first would you?
Save Time, Register in Advance
The first thing you want to do is to preregister for the show. Doing this in advance helps you get set up and ready to go so that you are not spending your first hours standing in lines.
Scout Your Prospects
Next, look at the list of exhibitors on the MD&M West website and determine which booths you want to visit, whether an EMS provider or a plastics manufacturing specialist. You also want to plan your visits based on proximity. Try setting up meetings in advance.
Our suggestion is to visit the websites of the companies that you are interested in. Create a spreadsheet and make notes on each, so you have their basic information (their services, location, clients, etc.) available and you can prepare questions you want to ask. In the spreadsheet, also put down their booth location. Download and print out a floor map as well. The MD&M West team does a great job of making this easy.
Be ‘In The Know’
You also want to go to the conference schedule to see what learning sessions, keynote speeches and networking events are must-dos. With MD&M West, you have the option to export the schedule via email, spreadsheet or print. Remember some sessions are free while other conferences and workshops have fees (for which you might have to register or pay in advance).
Beat the Clock
With multiple things going on simultaneously during an event, time management is crucial if you want to maximize your productivity. Being aware of the schedule and peak times will help eliminate delays, lines and missed opportunities.
Without question, you want to be early every day (especially the first day).
Since MD&M West opens at 10 am, it is best to head to the Anaheim Convention Center before 9 am to beat the rush. The parking lot and late-morning shuttles fill up very quickly. Typically, the first two days are the busiest, while the crowds thin out drastically on Day 3.
The lunch crowds are also large, so unless you consider waiting in a 50-person line a prime networking opportunity (do you want chicken or beef?), you are better off going to the concessions or Starbucks during off-peak hours (example: 11 am or 2 pm).
Remember, MD&M West is a marathon not a sprint. Makes sure to pace yourself for the three days and don’t try to do and see everything. Take breaks during the day, whether that is a walk outside or resting on any free comfortable chair in the hallways.
Dress for Success (and Here We Really Mean Substance over Style)
The most important item you can pack for MD&M West is good walking shoes.
The exhibit floor at the Anaheim Convention Center is over 800,000 sq. feet – so that is a lot of walking!
The majority of people dress in business casual, so unless you have a crucial meeting, you can leave your shiny shoes or heels in the hotel room.
On top of attire, bring a backpack to hold water, snacks, business cards (we know you wouldn’t miss this!), a notebook, and room for all the brochures and free swag you will be collecting at the booths you visit. From laser pens to t-shirts to the candy that keeps you going – collecting free swag is the best part of tradeshows!
Meet and Mingle
Conferences are not solely about fulfilling immediate business goals and closing deals onsite.
Professionals in every industry recognize the value of building relationships and having fun together to recognize alignment and shared vision – at Creation we know the importance of liking the people you do business with, and at events we have the opportunity to share laughs, games, gimmicks, cocktail hours, impersonators and entertainment at booths and on stage.
Again, pace yourself, it is a three-day show.
Educate Yourself: Network and Ask Great Questions
Whether you are in the market for a new EMS provider or need design assistance, make sure you find the company that is right for you to partner with.
Is This a Fit?
When visiting different booths, come prepared. You only discover if a company is a fit if you ask good, relevant questions. The more specific the better.
For example, if you are looking for an EMS partner, you can ask about:
Traceability and Visibility – Do you have a tool that tracks every step of your work?
Design – Are your facilities ISO 13485-certified and FDA-registered?
NPI – How fast can you get a new product out?
Transfer – Do you have experience with Class I, II, or III devices? (domestic and offshore)
Besides booth visits, MD&M West provides a platform to network. There will be opportunities to meet people within your specific industry, and find opportunities to collaborate or share ideas during different networking sessions or workshops. You will also be in contact with a lot of your competitors – which is not necessarily a bad thing. You can learn from what they are doing well as well as identify what areas you need to improve in.
Make sure to be friendly, give and take business cards, and follow up with your new contacts after the show. You never know how those relationships can benefit you down the line.
Fun in the Sun
Although MD&M West may be a business trip, you might as well turn it into a mini-vacation. There aren’t too many places better than Southern California in February.
Plenty of Options
After the show ends on Thursday, you can potentially spend the weekend in one of the several nearby cities like Los Angeles, Palm Springs or San Diego. But perhaps staying local is best. Anaheim is home to Disneyland, which is the happiest place on earth!
So now that you know what to expect from MD&M West, you can now take full advantage of this great opportunity. After your three days, you should go back home with exciting new contacts, new ideas, and a better understanding on what steps you need to take to be a major player in the medical device industry.
If you are lucky, you will also come home with a nice tan.
The ethical sourcing of materials from conflict-free regions is a responsibility that most of us in the global EMS industry take very seriously, and not just when emerging legislation tells us it must be so.
Prior to joining Creation, I was president of a company manufacturing bare printed circuit boards, and so I understand first-hand the impact of responsible commodity sourcing upstream in the supply chain.
The ultimate responsibility to comply with the Conflict Minerals legislation in the Dodd-Frank Act falls on the US’s Securities and Exchange Commission’s publically traded companies, many of which are Creation Technologies OEM customers. At Creation we do our best to guide our partners through the process and implement systems to help them comply with formal regulations.
In the third and final installment of our first Conflict Minerals Effect video series, I discuss the direct impact – cost, resources, and opportunities – that the Dodd-Frank Conflict Minerals legislation has on our company and customers.
The role that the electronics industry can play in leading change is complex. In our view, no matter the legislation or challenge, it is most effective for all partners throughout an OEM’s supply chain to have an open dialogue, as much end-to-end visibility as possible, and a plan to work together to do what’s right, as well as what’s necessary.
The Conflict Minerals Effect: Part 3 – Impact on Creation & Our Partners
Because of factors like ever-increasing supply chain complexity and rapid technological advancement, I think it’s quite clear that today’s OEMs who are outsourcing their electronics manufacturing and product development need a partner with:
Excellent communication skills
Appropriate technical expertise
Relevant industry experience
Strong quality and business systems
Teams in the right locations to support the business requirements
But over the course of my 30 years in the electronics industry, I’ve come to realize that there are other key factors in OEM-EMS relationships…if they’re going to have staying power.
Here are 3 of them.
3 Key Factors in OEM-EMS Relationships
Both companies need a long-term partnership mindset. This is the only way to get past common hurdles in this industry that stem from a fundamental lack of trust and understanding. It’s also the only way to form partnerships that teach us and help us improve.
As the service provider, the EMS company must always be seeking out strategies that will make their customers more competitive. At Creation, we are constantly looking to see what more we can do, other than “normal” EMS.
Taking the time up front to ensure that there’s cultural and business alignment. Key to finding a good fit here are the concepts of mindshare and risk mitigation.
Why Risk and Mindshare?
In any important relationship, business or personal, would you rather be an afterthought or a focal point?
Personally, I’d rather know that my partner thinks and cares about me and my future.
I’d like to know that I’m a priority, and that my risk of getting hurt from carelessness or lack of consideration is at a minimum.
And it happens that our company, Creation Technologies, is in the business of ensuring our customers’ success by providing mindshare as a critical piece of the partnerships we build.
Watch the video below to learn more about how Creation’s take on risk and mindshare was highlighted to a broad business audience.
What are key factors for you in successful relationships, EMS, business, or otherwise? Feel free to share in the comments.
I love to talk about strategies to build relationships and help our customers succeed. Please contact me any time if you’d like to chat!