For those of you reading, I hope you enjoyed my presentation on Flextronics (Flex). I really enjoyed learning about this unsung hero of digital innovation. I will recap the presentation quickly for everyone:
- Flex is a tech company that looks to provide companies with Sketch-to-Scale solutions. Working with companies from sketch to scale means providing elite Electronic Manufacturing Services throughout the life of a product, from concept design all the way to global expansion through a network of facilities in 30 countries.
- Flex has made an important impact on several industries, from Medical to Automotive to Energy.
- It is no coincidence that the industries that are perceived leaders in the Internet of Things (IoT) are all ones Flex is involved in (see the pie chart to the right).
- Flex’s has a unique focus on the Intelligence of Things. Flex calls the Internet of Things the “plumbing” that raw data flows through, and they say the Intelligence of Things is taking that raw data and transforming it into something meaningful and profound for business and for daily life.
- Finally, Flex has had a major impact on environmental sustainability, which is something any company should strive for.
The two things I mentioned briefly in my presentation about Flex that I will be discussing to give you a better idea about what Flex does are their partnerships with companies and their work with startups and other institutions. This successful work with not just recognizable corporate giants but also early-stage companies and institutions that play a role in the future of digital advancement gives Flex a unique competitive advantage.
I was asked a question about Flex’s work with Nike, so I want to discuss this interesting partnership. Why would Nike partner would Flex? In 2015, Nike thought Flex’s expertise in design, engineering and manufacturing in a variety of industries made them the perfect partner to help revolutionize footwear manufacturing. An article on Flex’s website says Nike was looking to reduce the amount of material and labor needed to make their high-performance, customized footwear. Before Flex’s technology, if a shoe came in 10 sizes, each shoe required crafting 200 different pieces. The unique laser-cutting technology provided by Flex allows Nike to cut the fabric, hard or soft, of its shoes into whatever pattern necessary right there in their factory. They also created a roboticized bolt holder that automatically feeds lines of fabric based on the specific shoe model and size. Nike, instead of having to do a big run of one shoe size at a time, was now able to produce different sizes of different shoes all in one run. The team from Flex working with Nike ordered 50 pairs of shoes from Nike to learn what goes into making a Nike shoe and to begin finding ways to improve shoe quality. As you can see, Flex’s dedication to their partnerships as well as their top-notch technological innovations make them one of the best in business.
Flex is heavily invested in the medical industry, and this example, in contrast with Nike, shows how Flex is a diverse toolkit at the forefront of digital innovation. The drug delivery device they created applies an electrical current to a cell’s membrane to open pores through which a drug or DNA can pass. It incorporates multiple layers of switches required for accuracy and precision. Not only did they help design this innovative product, but they helped the company manufacture it at scale.
You can search Flex partnerships on the Internet to find more partnerships they have had, and you can also check out some examples from their site.
Flex, as I mentioned, also works with startups and other institutions to help them hit the ground running.
Collective Innovation Program (CIP)
Through their CIP, Flex works with leading technology innovation partners, such as startups, universities, research institutions and others to help customers monetize investments and gain access to a global customer base. For example, Flex worked with Northeastern University to develop a nano sweat sensor that monitors lactic acid to measure hydration and enzyme levels in the body. This technology can be used for sports and fitness, and it can also be used for monitoring stress and fatigue levels of soldiers in combat. It is evident that Flex’s collaborative innovations have a significant impact across several industries.
Flex’s Lab IX helps emerging technology startups bring technologies that will be disruptive in the future to market. Flex, through investment and services, has helped several startups enter the market successfully. One of those startups is InteraXon, a startup in the field of brain sensing technology. InteraXon brings medical-grade, EEG technology to the consumer market. Their product, Muse , is a brain fitness tool that reads your brain waves like a heart rate. This helps people train their brains to live happier, healthier and more connected lives. Another startup is Matternet. Matternet is creating the next mode of transportation – networks of small, unmanned flying vehicles. Its transportation system will have several benefits, including lower cost, lower ecological footprint, and less upfront infrastructure investment than any other transportation system.
Final Thoughts on Flex
I think this explanation of Flex and the examples I included show why Flex is one of the best across several digitally advanced industries. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Flex offers so much, and I suggest going through their easy-to-navigate website to learn more about them if you are interested.
One last thing I want to mention that may interest you is INTELLIGENCE, a quarterly print and digital magazine published by Flex. INTELLIGENCE focuses on innovation, and the new wave of smart and connected technologies. It discusses concepts like the Intelligence of Things. If you are interested in being informed about today’s latest and greatest in the rapidly advancing digital world, I would suggest giving the INTELLIGENCE site a look. One interesting article is “Fixing the Footprint”. It goes into detail about Flex’s sustainability initiatives, including some eye-opening statistics and facts. For example, Flex employees turned a barren factory into 500 square meters of raised beds for growing peanuts, tomatoes and other produce.
I hope you now see that Flex does some truly ground-breaking things and can help everyone from big tech companies to startups to people like you and me through their INTELLIGENCE publication. Thanks for reading!