This month's topic won't be a rant about global warming, the latest Olympic tribulations or even what I paid for petrol this morning (which, here in the US, is beginning to approach European numbers).
I had a hard time getting worked up about any of those. A bit alarming really. No, I haven't been the victim of some sort of frontal lobotomy. I'm just in too darn good of a mood to go ranting.
Sure, the long, cold winter is finally over, birds are chirping and daylight hours now exceed my workday, but that's not the cause of my happiness.
I'm just having too much fun at work lately. Getting things done gets me juiced. And we just got something exciting done.
Here's what's got me whistling show tunes. Last fall, Stan (you know Stan? He's one of our product managers) and I were talking about the problem with industrial Ethernet switches. Every time we designed a new switch, we wrestled with decisions about what kind of ports to put on it. How many fiber ports? ST or SC connectors? Single mode or multimode? 20km or 80km? We had to guess at what would best fit most systems. As a customer, you know darn well that means that you never find the configuration you really want. You end up with extra adapters, media converters and even re-terminating fiber cables. We weren't happy about that and I'm sure you weren't either.
Some would call it an epiphany. You might just call it a "duh" moment, but right then and there we figured out how to solve that problem so that you, Mr. and Mrs. Customer, will never be faced with a misfit switch again.
I'll tell you the story. But first, two must-know facts about B&B.
1. B&B is a manufacturer. We actually build whiz-bang electronic stuff.
2. We sell direct. You talk straight to B&B. That means we've got one warehouse in the US and one in Ireland full of goodies. Overnight shipping gets those goodies directly to you, just as quickly as you need them.
Those are important facts. Without them our epiphany would have fallen on its face.
Ever eat at Subway sandwich shop? Kind of slick how you babysit your sandwich through the manufacturing process. We let you do the same thing with an Ethernet switch. Tell us how many ports and then tell us what kind of connector you'd like in those ports. We build the subassemblies in volume through our automated lines. Those subassemblies sit poised at a spanking new mfg cell, awaiting your order. You order, quantity one or many, we put in the final ingredients exactly as you requested, test it, pack it, ship it.
You need a 3 port switch with one copper, two 40km fiber ports and a side of chips? We'll build it that way just for you in about a week (you supply the chips).
That's pretty cool stuff. And what's got me so chipper is that we pulled it off. Racing from epiphany to new products and processes in just a few months.
Sure there were bumps in the road (Robert Frost preferred the road less traveled, my roads come with extra bumps). It took the team three tries to get the compliance certs on the 8 port version. Developing the custom manufacturing software was more of a battle than I'd care to discuss without a beverage. Putting the database together that drives the cool online product configurator caused Stan to consume a few bottles of Tylenol.
Check it out - the fruits of our labor.