Look into the future tech challenges faced by tomorrow's businesses
In the year 2021 we will require a technology vision that meets the requirements of constantly changing on-demand experiences in the present pandemic situation. In such a scenario we are looking for your insightful responses that paint a realistic picture of the role played by PRIME in addressing the customer needs in 2021 and has culminated into one of the 10 Best Tech Solution Providers of 2021.
After covering all the questions, please feel free to share your views and opinion on any other topic that we may have missed and you think our subscribers should know about.
- What are the challenges faced by PRIME’s customers, & how are you addressing the same with your unique solutions?
- The major challenges for Edge Computing and 5G infrastructures in general are primarily deployment speed, how to roll out tens of thousands of Edge Data Centers at the speed of “now,” manage costs and be sensitive to the environment, all at the same time. Prime’s new line of prefabricated Modular Data Centers with Intelligent Natural Air Cooling address all these needs. We create economies of scale by utilizing the same components and a limited amount of structures which enables speed to market in 50 – 60% less time than traditional Edge solutions for 5G Macro-Sites or Enterprise environments. By utilizing Natural (free) Air Cooling with Siemens Environmental controls, we cut cooling costs by 50% over traditional HVAC methods – a vital step considering that cooling data centers draws approximately 50% of the power required to run a data center. Also, our supplemental evaporative cooling method uses 75% less water than traditional water-based cooling systems – once again being sensitive to the environment.
- Walk us through a quick snapshot of the conception, history, important milestones/ evolution of the company.
- Prime was founded in 1985 in Los Angeles, originally manufacturing extension cords and accessories for the Industrial/Commercial distribution channel. We soon migrated to Consumer/Retail and began a rapid growth curve that required a major investment in resources. One of our primary manufacturing partners, YFC-BonEagle purchased Prime in 2006, which helped make that next growth spurt possible.
YFC, based in Taipei, was founded in 1983, specializing in OEM power supply cords and structured cable. Currently we own or have partnerships with manufacturing facilities in 5 countries, sales offices in Europe, Asia and the USA, and employ nearly 2000 people worldwide.
Prime’s new product development team is based in our office outside Charlotte, NC. Marketing, Engineering and Quality Control lab are based in our office and our 200,000 sq. ft. distribution center outside of Los Angeles. We are also in the process of identifying a location for a new Modular Data Center assembly & fulfillment facility in Houston.
- From your industry-first Neon Flex hi-visibility extension cords to your premium Bulldog Tough job-site extension cord program, how has PRIME has developed a knack for introducing the "next big thing" to the marketplace?
- Since its beginnings, Prime has adopted a “problem-solving” approach to new product development. The two extension cord products you’ve identified were the result of listening to our customers and end users. The NeonFlex® cords addressed a need from professionals on the job sites who were getting their cords taken by other tradespeople on the site because everyone had orange or yellow cords. These hi-visibility cords addressed that concern, as did our in-house custom-print program that enables contractors to buy small production runs of cords with their name, website and phone number imprinted on them. Prior to our custom-print program, manufacturers were requiring large minimum quantities for custom printing. We found a better way by testing and implementing digital printers instead of the old way of tooling custom print wheels for each custom job and doing the printing during the wire extrusion.
Bulldog Tough® cords addressed another need from both professionals and DIY’ers who wanted an oil-resistant, extreme temperature rated extension cord but didn’t want to pay for more expensive rubber or TPE products.
Although the vast majority of our innovations and product improvements have been with line voltage products, we’ve also carried that philosophy to our Structured Cable Division with products like our patented Navi-Lite patch panels that help installers and repair technicians easily and quickly trace connections from the patch panel to the specific RJ45 receptacle down line. It saves time and money during both the installation of a new internal network, and down the road when doing maintenance. We have also done things on the back-end of manufacturing that go unnoticed to the naked eye. For example, at our own factories we formulate our own compounds, so we have more control over issues such as passing UL flame tests and making a safer product for riser and plenum cables. Quality is always our primary focus because it doesn’t matter how cool a product is if it’s not safe and doesn’t perform as needed.
Because we were already providing structured cabling solutions for use in traditional data centers and server rooms, as 5G and the Distributed Cloud/Edge computing models started to develop, we saw an opportunity to contribute. Hence the development of our new Modular Data Center program. This too came from listening to our customers and the inevitable need driven by these emerging technologies.
- There are a number of enterprises out there in the market vying for the top position. What are the strategies employed by PRIME to thwart this competition and what according to you are the unique features of PRIME that has helped in staying different and ahead of your competitors?
- First and foremost, we value our customers. Yes, that’s easy to say, but it is the main reason companies grow and stay on top. Just as with the previous question when referring to quality and safety, if we are not listening to and working with our customers, 24/7/365 to provide the products and the service they need, it won’t matter how innovative we are.
Competition is healthy. It helps us all learn and grow. Not all good ideas come from within. The market drives innovation and multiple solutions to address challenges. By focusing on servicing our customers with the best quality/value products and personalized attention possible, we hope that we will continue to nurture these long-term relationships and that our sincerity will enable us to open new doors. We have to be “present” and visible to current and future customers – especially during the pandemic. So we participate in virtual events as well as whatever we can safely do in person to maintain these relationships and stay involved with our customers and our industry.
That being said, we still have to continue to listen and respond to market trends and needs. Without the goods, even your best friend will look elsewhere if you are unable to help him/her.
- How are you investing in your digital footprint - so you may continue to service your customers in the most convenient ways possible for their needs?
- We are in the process of revamping our website to make it more user-friendly. We’re actually setting up three “sub-sites” to separate our three main product lines: Consumer/Industrial line voltage, Structured Cabling Solutions and Modular Data Centers, so that customers can more easily find what they need.
We’ve always been fans of ways to bring people together digitally because we are a global company. So it was very fluid for us to up our digital game as software such as Teams, Zoom, FaceTime, and even social media platforms became available to keep in touch with customers, our factories, sales team and our own internal teams during the pandemic.
In addition to revamping our website, and using social media platforms to communicate with our people around the world, we’ve also become more involved and engaged with platforms such as YouTube, LinkedIn and more, as this is a lifeline to end-users and other opportunities. As mentioned earlier, without our end-users, we’d have a gap in the success of our product development efforts.
It’s also a scary thought to realize that the average person sees 3 miles of social media daily! Therefore if we don’t have a presence on social platforms, we don’t exist to a large portion of the world. People today would rather read a quick Tweet or a social media post than an email. Video has also become more important than the written word. We must adapt to this just as we have to adapt to new or updated UL standards.
- How do you turn the latest technology trends into advantages for your customers? Which are the key technologies you are adopting at present?
- By providing the products and services that adapt to these trends. Whether it’s smart outlets and switches that are smart device (Google Home®, Amazon Alexa® and/or Apple HomeKit®) compatible, building Modular Data Centers, expanding our fiber optic program or having a social media presence, whatever we do or make has to fit with the present and have enough foresight to stay relevant tomorrow.
That’s why we’re so excited about our Modular Data Centers as this product line will help the world implement 5G and Edge Computing faster and more efficiently than was possible. If we can help those who use our products be successful in meeting their goals, we’ve done our job. None of the amazing technological innovations such as AI, VR, AR, smart homes, cars, cities and streaming services will meet their potential if there is no infrastructure to transmit “zero-latency” signal. Our Modular Data Centers are a “game changer” in helping this come to fruition.
- Could you elaborate on the solution you want to feature through this article? Further, what are the unique methodologies and techniques PRIME adopts to deliver these solutions and services?
- Our Modular Data Centers for 5G Macro-Sites and Enterprise solutions are without a doubt, the most important product line we’ve developed as these MDC’s solve several problems in deploying 5G worldwide.
Building a 5G and Edge Infrastructure is one of the most expensive global undertakings ever attempted. When one considers the following:
- Much of the world is barely into 2G so even more infrastructure needs to be deployed by those who have the resources (not always the indigenous governments or their local telecommunications companies)
- 400x more antenna arrays have to be constructed/implemented than exist in a 4G environment for 5G to have maximum efficacy and efficiency
- Currently there are over 800 zettabytes flying around the Internet and stored/processed in The Cloud at any given moment. This includes approximately 85 zettabytes from over 21 billion IoT devices that require local caches of data in order to achieve maximum efficiency. According to some researchers, the number of IoT (smart) devices is expected to double in 5 – 7 years.
- Powering the Internet uses anywhere between 2 and 10% of the world’s total energy resources. This number is expected to at least double in the next decade due to the growth in Cloud & Distributed Cloud (Edge) computing. 50% of that energy consumption is from cooling the servers that store and process our insatiable demand for data.
We’ve addressed this challenge in how our Modular Data Centers have been designed with precision-engineered prefabricated components that are used across several models, increasing efficiencies and reducing waste. By employing natural air cooling we reduce the cost of cooling our MDC’s by 50% over standard methods. We use 75% less water than traditional water-based cooling solutions too. Therefore, our solutions cost less to produce. Take 50-60% less time to deploy, and cost less to operate – saving time, money and the environment.
We call our solution “plug and play” because our MDC’s are ready to go once delivered to the job site. Because we also make all the patch panels, bulk cable, fiber optic jumpers, cable management, etc., that goes into the data center, we can pre-wire it to our customer’s specifications, so all that’s needed at the site is to drop in the servers and back-up batteries, plug it into a power source, connect the water supply and turn it on.
We have indoor 2kW & 5kW 32U single rack Enterprise Solutions that are great for everything from a new smart home to a small business, as an add-on or to get started. Their footprint is small and they are much easier to deploy than building up a traditional server room. They are also great for emergency services and temporary situations.
Our 15kW 42U single rack and 2 rack 5G Macro-Site solutions can be deployed indoors or outside. They are small enough to ship on a standard truck and require a typical industrial forklift to place them on site. For “mission critical” and emergency services – these are an ideal solution because they are portable, come with a “road case” and can be redeployed when needed.
We also have a 12kW 43U 6-rack solution that’s practically unbeatable for Macro-sites, sporting events, small to medium sized enterprise solutions and more.
In addition we have a 10-rack enterprise solution we recommend as an alternative to building a traditional data center. A user can drop one or more of these in a warehouse, scale up when needed, and each unit is both self-contained and managed by the same PLC format so monitoring these remotely is simple.
If a picture paints 1000 words, then a video will do even more. We’d like to invite your readers to take a virtual tour of our MDC’s by visiting the following link on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffOc6xs-fFY
It’s easy to talk and write about our solutions, but to see them will help tremendously.
- To understand your solutions and products better, can you share a few case studies where clients have benefitted from your solutions? What problems did they face and after the implementation of your solution, what were the benefits they received? Can you also talk about the challenges you faced while integrating your services with the clients’ needs?
- This is a great group of questions. Because we are in the development stage with several clients, we’re not able to answer the aftermarket questions. However, we can address some of the challenges we’ve been facing with the clients with whom we are currently working.
One client wants to deploy our solution in a desert climate where the client’s protocol is not to have a water supply in the data center. The way our evaporative cooling works, (simplified explanation) the water supply is outside of the MDC. There’s a ½ inch (or metric equivalent for those countries on a metric standard) hose-bib onto which the client can connect piping or a typical garden hose from a nearby water supply. The sensors within the Siemens Environmental Control System bring a limited amount of water to an evaporative panel that sits between the “intake” section of the MDC and the “cold aisle.” From there, powerful fans pull the required amount of evaporating mist into the circulation while the overflow drips down into a pipe beneath the MDC and it evacuates through the pipe to the ground outside of the MDC where it will naturally evaporate away from any sensitive equipment.
Another client has a chain of hospitals whose data centers are full. They have run out of space inside their facilities and have security concerns about putting an expanded data center outside on the grounds, so they need to put our units on the roofs of their hospitals. Because of their high-density structure our units take up less space. Without traditional cooling such as a raised floor and HVAC, they also weigh much less than traditional solutions. (A single-rack outdoor-rated MDC weighs approximately 2000lbs fully loaded).
The feature all our current clients love is that the Siemens Environmental PLC (Programmable Logic Control) can be operated remotely – ideal for 5G Macro-Sites and for clients such as the one with several hospitals. We provide a URL where their IT people can login from a computer, tablet or phone and monitor or make adjustments to the environment in the MDC, open the door for an on-site technician or more – in real-time!
Our single-rack MDC has over 100 sensors that let the client know when it’s time to change the air and chemical filters, track trends in energy consumption, automatically switch power from one intelligent PDU to the other in order to save energy and manage the load, just about anything that needs to be monitored and managed in the data center can be done from anywhere!
- Where do you see PRIME in the near future? Tell us in detail about the plans of your company’s expansion in terms of its services that it offers, expansion in terms of types of client it serves and geographical presence? Also, please elaborate on the upcoming products and services and company’s roadmap.
- Although we are always looking for the next opportunity to expand and service our customer base in each product category and marketplace we currently supply, we have our hands full right now with our new MDC program. Because there is a global need, we need to be ready globally. That means expanding our existing sales and service teams, developing teams in new territories, and cultivating distribution partners who will stock both our main MDC products and provide the aftermarket supplies such as replacement filters for end users.
As mentioned throughout this discussion, Prime’s priority is always taking care of our customers (and subsequently the end users) needs. We are in an exciting time right now – on the cutting edge with our solution. We have several key people and resources in place, but we will need to keep investing in “boots on the ground” in each market territory to ensure we have the right people for each market’s needs. That’s our focus along with deploying as many of our MDC’s as possible to help the world realize the promise of 5G. By participating in opportunities such as this, becoming more active on social media, participating in trade events - both virtually and in person, we hope to create the excitement for our products for end-users, and for those people and businesses who fit the mold to be our partners in deploying our solution globally.
- Is there anything more you would like to add or highlight? Any other interesting insight you would like us to talk about in the story that we may have missed in this questionnaire?
- We’d like to thank you and your readers for spending time with us and giving us the opportunity to share our story. If anyone is interested in learning more, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, most importantly, we hope you and your readers are keeping safe and well during these trying times.