Why I Want a BigBelly

One morning driving to work, out of nowhere I found myself thinking about how I would love to have a big belly.  A little strange right? But then I’m not referring to a big belly in the physical sense.

I am talking about the BigBelly Solar compactors that are popping up at universities, parks, resorts and business districts across the U.S. as companies and municipalities aim to cut costs and go green.

What’s a BigBelly?

While walking down a Boston street, BigBelly founder Jim Poss observed a garbage truck in action – idling at a pick up point, blocking traffic, with smoke pouring out of its exhaust, while litter was still prevalent on the street.  Then he learned that garbage trucks consume more than 1 billion gallons of diesel fuel each year in the U.S. alone!

Poss was struck by the thought that there had to be a better way.  Drawing on this insight, experience in electric vehicle engineering and an enthusiasm for environmental solutions, Poss formed a company that designed the world’s first solar-powered trash compactor.

The BigBelly solar garbage compactors use the power of the sun to compact trash deposited into the container.  Once the trash compactor is full, it sends a signal to a monitoring station alerting the Division of Waste Management to the need for trash pick-up.

Each BigBelly compactor holds five times the garbage of a normal trash can!

The BigBelly solar compactor has been engineered to be extremely energy efficient and operates with high reliability in the most difficult environmental climates.

BigBelly Solar: Creation Technologies Visit
Left to right with the solar compactor are Troy Watros – General Manager of Creation Lexington, Chris Summersgill – VP Operations BigBelly Solar, Mayor Jim Gray, and Eddie Scott – BigBelly Cell Captain at Creation.

Big Belly & Creation Technologies: A Perfect Match

BigBelly Solar partnered with our team at Creation Technologies in 2010 to build the complete solar-powered trash compactor units.

We asked Chris Summersgill, VP Operations for BigBelly, what it was that tipped the scales in our favor. At the risk of sounding self-promotional, we’re proud to share his response:

“We completed an extensive search for an electronics manufacturing services partner and Creation best fit our criteria.  Creation’s Lexington team’s disciplined approach to high quality, repeatable manufacturing was evident by the organization’s dedication to LEAN manufacturing principles.

The opportunity to combine multiple functions, such as PCB assembly, box build, test capabilities and drop ship of individual orders under one roof was a huge plus.  Creation’s sourcing capabilities and buying sophistication = cost down and high availability leverage for BigBelly Solar.

We feel very positive about our choice of Creation as a partner and look forward to taking advantage of more of the value that Creation brings to the relationship in the future.”

We feel pretty positive, too, Chris!

What Can We Do?

Create Jobs. Run Government Efficiently. Build a Great American City.

City of Lexington Mayor Jim Gray
Mayor Jim Gray taking photos of the City of Lexington’s new BigBelly Solar trash compactor during his visit to Creation Technologies

These were the themes introduced by Lexington, KY Mayor Jim Gray during his State of the Merged Government Speech in January.   Those themes resonated with us. How could Creation help reach these goals?

BigBelly came to mind.  We believe in the BigBelly Solar waste & recycling system as a product,  but we also love what they are doing from both an economic and environmental perspective.

As Troy, our GM in Lexington put it, “Since the BigBelly stations are solar-powered, they don’t need an external power source. They compact the trash, so Waste Management makes fewer trips to empty them. … trucks are out less, use less fuel and emissions are lowered.  The long-term benefits are substantial.”

BigBelly has more than 12,000 compactors deployed worldwide.

This is a company making a significant dent in the wasteful consumption of fossil fuels!

Even better, the BigBelly products mean:

  • Savings of hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel each year while freeing up thousands of man-hours for other tasks
  • Savings of millions of dollars in aggregate annual budget savings
  • Customers can close budget gaps and avoid layoffs
  • Customers can continue to provide a high quality of life to their citizens and visitors

And an idea was born.  Why not keep the city green and try to grow business by donating a BigBelly solar compactor to the City of Lexington?  We ran the idea by BigBelly, who was fully on board. Creation would donate the solar compactor, and BigBelly Solar would donate the ongoing service contract and training.

Today, our Lexington team is working with the Mayor’s staff to determine the best location for their awesome new solar-powered trash compactor.  We will keep you posted!


Interested in creating a better environment for your city?    Need to create efficiencies and reduce cost?  Then you may want a BigBelly too.  What do you think?  Where would you use a solar-powered trash compactor?

A Whirlwind at MD&M West: Medical Device Design & Manufacturing

Creation Technologies at Medical Design & Manufacturing
Some of the Creation Team at MD&M West: Kirk Olson, Jennifer Marsh, Dan Shepard and Joe Garcia

Medical devices galore! Product launches, new technologies, international customers, diverse exhibitors, Innovation Briefs, conferences, networking and quality business meetings were all under one roof at MD&M West 2012 at the Anaheim Convention Center earlier this year.

This was my first year at an MD&M (Medical Design & Manufacturing) tradeshow and I didn’t know what to expect. I was excited to meet up with people in the Medical industry and share Creation Technologies’ diverse manufacturing and design capabilities (especially with our recent acquisition and addition of our Design Services team), but I was just as anxious to check out all of the other exhibitors.

With all of UBM Canon’s sister shows for packaging, automation, design, plastics, sensors, electronics, aerospace and sustainability, I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for me and for all the other show-goers. I wasn’t disappointed. The atmosphere was upbeat and exciting with so much to see that I will have to go back! Here are some of the highlights….

Process Efficiency & Quality Controls

My first stop was FFD, Inc. a company whose Sequence Enterprise Software is unique for writing, managing, deploying and validating shop-floor work instructions, a process that’s very important in our high-tech electronics industry. Medical and other device manufacturers are using the tool to keep up with all the manufacturing routines and manage strict quality requirements.

Over the years I’ve heard both my husband and Creation’s engineers grumble at how writing operational instructions in a Word document can be so cumbersome, and FFD’s software seems to solve some of the typical challenges:

  • Completed work instructions can be viewed online or printed.
  • If a manufacturing step needs to be added or removed, the software can handle the change by automatically updating the instructions.

I received my CD in the mail last week but FFD offers a free version downloadable from their website: http://www.sequencesoftware.com/lockstepfree.

The amazing FANUC robot


Then there was the Assembly/Automation Equipment, Systems, and Robotics.

Today’s cutting-edge pick and place machines, transfer robots and conveyor systems are unbelievably fast and accurate, meaning improved processing times and higher throughput. For Creation and our customers, time to market is always key and so seeing significant advances in this space is always very exciting.

I stood in awe of a particular robot produced by FANUC Robotics specifically made for food transfer. At MD&M the robot picked up chocolate covered donuts and moved them from one conveyor to another at a rate of 220 picks per minute…without even disturbing the delicious chocolate glaze! That’s a lot of donuts.

Check out the FANUC robot in action for yourself!


Social Media and Strategic Marketing

It’s always great to meet up with people in your industry to benchmark and share ideas. I had some very interesting conversations at this year’s MD&M with Medical device manufacturers, analysts, Creation’s customers, competitors and partners alike.

The buzz on the show floor as well as the Innovations Briefs presentations confirm that even the Medical market is opening up to the idea of new communications tools like social media because, let’s face it, it’s here to stay. I read an article by Tricia Rodewald on Medical Device + Diagnostic Industry (MDDI) that sums this idea up really well. To quote a few of her thoughts:

“Most companies understand the importance of strategic marketing. However, the medical technology industry’s cautiousness to protect intellectual property and avoid legal ramifications can often restrict effective, innovative marketing efforts….To stay relevant—now, and in the future—medical technology companies need to reevaluate how they communicate their expertise and develop online and offline strategies for enhancing strategic partnerships.”

I think this is true not only of the Medical industry, but of the entire Electronics Manufacturing industry. The better we get at communicating the value we each bring to the table, the better we get at sharing information to overcome industry challenges, the more opportunity and growth there will be.

Now that I am back and have had a chance to reflect on the 2012 MD&M I would say it was, in a word, educational. It was a great chance to check the pulse of the medical industry.

What did you think? Did you go? Are you planning to attend any of the other MD&M shows in 2012 or 2013?



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