Singling out the Top Contenders
Welcome to the MPMN 100 issue, where we give top billing to the components, materials, services, and literature that our readers requested most often during the past 12 months. MPMN instituted this annual feature six years ago to identify what you find most interesting in the magazine and bring you more of it.
In the spirit of the top 100, I thought I'd share parts of another other "top" list, along with one of my own.
In a recent study, Frost & Sullivan reported the most challenging issues facing the medical and data communications contract manufacturing industries. The key medical device issues identified in the study include the following:
1. With more medical OEMs moving toward "virtual manufacturing facilities," contract manufacturers are required to invest in information technology to provide OEMs with production, test, and distribution data in real time.
2. OEMs are demanding more advanced technologies, requiring contract manufacturers to make significant investments in new equipment.
3. In an effort to integrate vertically to meet OEM demand for more services, contract manufacturers run the risk of losing some of their core competencies.
4. Contract manufacturers face a tight labor market and are competitively bidding against other industries for the same workforce.
5. Because of the highly regulated nature of the medical device industry, generalist contract manufacturers are having difficulty entering the market.
Having just returned from the Industrial Designers Society of America National Conference and now gearing up for the Medical Equipment Design & Technology Exhibition and Conference and the upcoming Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) events in November and January, here are my top-five reasons why it's important to take the time to participate in industry conferences and trade shows:
1. Feedback. Companies spend thousands of dollars on market research to find out what their customers think about their products, and much of this information can be obtained free for the asking. Exhibiting at trade shows can invite valuable user feedback, customer validation about what you are doing right, and creative input into ways to improve your product.
2. Face-to-face contacts. Trade events provide the ideal venue for making new contacts and strengthening old relationships.
3. Free advice. Conference speakers usually allocate time at the end of their sessions for audience questions, and you can usually approach them afterwards for more detailed information.
4. Competitor intelligence. With most companies unveiling or previewing new products on the show floor, you can often gather significant information about your competitor's products and observe how the products are being received by potential buyers.
5. Inspiration. Spending time with colleagues from afar, being exposed to new information, and taking a few days away from the office can help stimulate the solution to a problem or provide new insight into a project.
If nothing else, coming to Southern California in January for MD&M West and taking some time out for Disneyland and Rollerblading aren't bad ideas.