3 Signs Your Supplier is a Market Reactor Rather Than an Innovator – And Why You Should Care

By Tim Cloutier, Area Vice President of Sales-East

Today’s research environment is fast and competitive. That’s why it can be especially frustrating when suppliers become complacent about staying ahead of the challenges you face, both now and in the future. Here are 3 common signs that your supplier isn’t focused on your long-term strategic needs . . .

1. The Status Quo Defender:
Reacts to innovation rather than driving it.

“Innovators” become students of their markets and lead the way to positive change. With change, comes new and better ways to solve problems. This stands in stark contrast to those who repackage existing technology and extend performance parameters in reaction to market competitiveness. When an innovator drives the market with a superior solution, it poses a threat to other “status quo” providers, who must then seek ways to respond. Innovators have the vision and courage to change the market, while the status quo simply reacts. Innovation is the lifeblood of competitive advantage and your suppliers should be your trusted advisors on this journey. Ask yourself, “Who are the thought-leading suppliers who are advancing my industry?”

Ultra-low cooling technology saw little improvement for decades, until the innovative free-piston Stirling engine was introduced to the ULT freezer market by Stirling Ultracold. While we applaud the energy-efficiency enhancements applied to cascade ULT freezers technology since then, this has been a reaction that does not address the fundamental vulnerabilities of compressor-based systems.

2. The Naysayer:
Focuses only on associating fear with the risks of change rather than the benefits.

Innovators often find themselves sorting through distorted claims and attacks from incumbents who seek to defend the current balance. Defenders of the status quo will position themselves as the “devil you know”, even seeding the market with unsupported doubts and myths about the new innovation. They will often go to the greatest lengths to protect their turf. A stagnant market only benefits the old guard, while the customer is best served by growth and continuous progress. Ask yourself, “Which of my suppliers seem more focused on discrediting competitive solutions than finding their own solutions to my long-term needs?”

As a true ultra-low temperature storage technology innovator, Stirling Ultracold is confident in the tangible value that customers gain from our innovation and quality. That’s why we’re able to focus on delivering these advantages to our customers rather than discrediting our competitors.

3. The Discounter:
Commoditizes long-term customer value and positive strategic impact.

A company that sells solely on price is offering a commodity with no differentiation or added customer value. A commodity supplier doesn’t win your trust by enabling tomorrow’s growth or protecting your strategic advantage. Instead, they seek to close the sale by employing another telltale sign of a short-sighted supplier- the price drop. This is made possible by sizable margins that often characterize legacy technology, as it gets commoditized over years of manufacturing scale, component cost downs and sourcing from low-cost regions. Ask yourself this question, “Which trusted suppliers talk about long-term strategic value and which vendors center the conversation on price?”

Another part of our innovation at Stirling Ultracold is educating customers to a better way of thinking about ULT freezer added value, rather than just costs. Looking at the bigger picture, our customers save far more money by reducing ULT operating costs and maintenance than seeking the deepest discount. Even better, they’re not placing their priceless biological samples at risk by buying from the lowest bidder!

The best suppliers understand your unique needs and growth strategies well enough to become a trusted advisor and partner. Some suppliers never become more than just vendors. Choosing the right provider will provide value-added benefits and a strategic advantage for your operation, along with a longer-term view of your bottom line.

VWR Recognizes Stirling as 2017 Supplier of the Year for Equipment, Instruments, and Chromatography

It’s been less than a year since announcing our new distribution agreement with VWR, the leading global independent provider of product and service solutions to laboratory and production customers. That’s why we were so honored to recently receive VWR’s coveted Supplier of the Year Award for Equipment, Instruments, and Chromatography. Being recognized among so many well-regarded suppliers at VWR’s recent 2018 Americas Sales Conference demonstrates just how successful this great relationship has become in a short time!

These VWR awards recognize supplier accomplishments and excellence in operations, sales support and customer service. “Throughout the year, our suppliers collaborate with our Sales organization to ensure we provide innovative and customized solutions to meet our customers’ needs,” said Mark McLoughlin, EVP, Americas for VWR, part of Avantor. “We are very pleased to recognize Stirling Ultracold for the products and service they provide to our customers.”

Read our Press Release Announcement >>

Congratulations to the 2017 Freezer Challenge Winners

Last December, we told you about the North American Laboratory Freezer Challenge, a collaboration of the I2SL and My Green Lab that promotes sample integrity, accessibility, reduced costs, and energy efficiency. As one of the Presenting Sponsors of the Freezer Challenge, we would like to congratulate the winners of this friendly competition that were recently announced.

The Freezer Challenge organizational winners were:

The individual laboratory winners were:

  • The Hoekstra Lab from Harvard University
  • The Baker Lab from Lilly
  • The Jones Lab from the CDC

Even more significant than the winners named above, Freezer Challenge participants collectively saved approximately 2.7-million kWh/year (equivalent to ≈1,900 metric tons of carbon emissions) and discarded over 200,000 samples.

We’re thrilled to have been a part of the Freezer Challenge program because it shares our core values, as exemplified by our 100% sustainable product line and Zero Waste facility. We’re also looking forward to presenting the awards to these winners at the 2017 I2SL Annual Conference on October 16 in Boston, MA.

For more information on the winners, please read the announcement from the Freezer Challenge website and the recent article on Nature.com.”

 

 

 

Stirling Ultracold’s Facility Earns Zero Waste Certification

I am very pleased to announce that Stirling Ultracold has received Zero Waste Certification from Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI), an independent certifying body that recognizes excellence in green business industry performance and practice globally. GBCI conducted an on-site assessment of our facility, reviewed our policies and practices, as well as our diversion data for the past year.  By adhering to the US Zero Waste Business Council’s and Zero Waste International Alliance’s rigorous standards for diverting waste from both incineration and landfill, this certification confirms our commitment to fulfilling the shared environmental sustainability goals and initiatives of our customers.

For us, becoming a certified Zero Waste facility is not a mere symbol or marketing pitch. Our success in reducing, reusing, and recycling waste is an extension of our core values, which have driven Stirling Ultracold’s products and approach to the research community since our beginnings. We have always believed that it is possible to align finding cures for diseases with sustainability. That is why every ultra-low freezer we manufacture supports sustainability and climate action goals with 100% natural refrigerants, industry-leading energy efficiency and the smallest possible carbon footprint. As we shared last year in our post, Why We’re Becoming a ‘Zero-Waste’ Manufacturer… Not Just ‘Zero Landfill, our Zero Waste program is part of our larger commitment to help research organizations achieve their corporate sustainability initiatives.

Having recently announced our new ENERGY STAR® partnership and certification of the most energy-efficient ULT freezer in the industry, earning Zero Waste certification is another important sustainability milestone for Stirling Ultracold because it validates our authenticity in supporting the values of our customers.

Stirling Announces First ENERGY STAR® Partnership for ULT Freezers with Industry-Leading SU780XLE Certification

After several years of industry collaboration, ENERGY STAR® certification standards for ultra-low temperature freezers were announced by the EPA in May. Now I’m very proud to announce that Stirling Ultracold is the first ENERGY STAR partner to be certified under the new laboratory grade ULT freezer category. As part of this partnership, our SU780XLE upright freezer has received ENERGY STAR certification, basedSU780XLE ENERGY STAR on test results obtained from a 2016 independent study that used the ENERGY STAR test protocol. Prepared for California utilities by the Center for Energy Efficient Laboratories (CEEL), this report1 validated the SU780XLE’s “weighted average” (-75°C) steady-state energy consumption as .286 kWh/day/ft3. This was nearly 50% below the published Maximum Daily Energy Consumption requirement for ULT certification (.55 kWh/day/ft3), as recently published by the EPA. In addition to steady-state energy-consumption, the ENERGY STAR test protocol includes a door-opening test, which also validated the XLE’s industry-leading energy efficiency by a wide margin in the 2016 report.

The ENERGY STAR Final Test Method allows a true, industry-standard comparison of ULT freezer energy use. Prior to the new testing method, freezer manufacturers had their own testing methods, which made it very difficult to accurately compare energy consumption of ULTs. Out of the 15 freezers that were submitted for ENERGY STAR testing in the 2016 CEEL report, five freezers qualified for certification, two of which were Stirling freezers. The SU780XLE had the lowest energy consumption of any of the competitive freezers that were tested by a margin of over 21%.

ENERGY STAR certification will give researchers finding cures for diseases real confidence in the energy savings and environmental sustainability of certified ULT storage products that preserve critical biological specimens for their work. As strong advocates for the ENERGY STAR program, we couldn’t be more pleased to see it finally being realized in our industry, along with the benefits it will bring to the research community.

1 2016 report published by The Center for Energy Efficient Laboratories (CEEL) for the Emerging Technologies Coordinating Council (ETCC): Ultra-Low Temperature Freezers: Opening the Door to Energy Savings in Laboratories.

Stirling Ultracold Now Exclusive HUBZone-Certified Supplier for Lab Freezers

If your organization is like many today, it has supplier diversity goals which can be challenging to meet. When that effort involves hitting targets for HUBZone contract awards, we have some good news. We are pleased to announce our certification (read our press release) by the SBA as a HUBZone company, which means all purchases of our Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) freezers qualify as HUBZone contract awards and are eligible for federal set-asides.

As the only ULT freezer manufacturer qualified as a business operating and employing people in a Historically Underutilized Business Zone, we are the only diversity supplier that can offer these federal incentives. This certification is a reflection of our dedication to both the Ohio community in which we work, as well as the customers we serve.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who was supportive in this process, made the following comment. . .

“Businesses like Stirling Ultracold are the backbone of Ohio communities. I’m glad that Stirling Ultracold has secured the HUBZone designation, which will help the company secure contracts and federal resources as they continue to create jobs and strengthen the Athens community.”

View our official HUBZone certification under our parent company Global Colling, Inc.

I’m very pleased to share this news and encourage you to pass it on to the supplier diversity program in your organization or institution. When you can see savings in the procurement process while hitting challenging Diversity and HUBZone targets, it’s a win for all.

Time to Take the North American Laboratory Freezer Challenge

North American Freezer ChallengeAt Stirling Ultracold, our mission is to provide best-in-class ultra-low storage solutions in the most sustainable way possible; whether it’s our Zero Waste manufacturing initiatives, or the energy efficiency of our products.  That’s why we are proud to be a Presenting Sponsor of the North American Laboratory Freezer Challenge – so we may encourage research organizations in achieving their lab sustainability and cost goals.

My Green Lab, the International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) and others have joined forces to create the North American Laboratory Freezer Challenge (FreezerChallenge.org) for purposes that are close to our heart, including reducing the environmental impacts of sample storage.  Over a five-month period, starting January 15, participating labs will implement practices to optimize research sample storage, including:

  • Cleaning out freezers to remove frost, dust and debris
  • Consolidating partially filled units
  • Ensuring samples are stored at the most appropriate temperatures
  • Upgrading to more efficient freezers

This friendly competition will be a fun and collaborative way for labs across North America to make strides toward improving their sustainability and sample management practices. Participants will also gain points for following any of the actions listed above, which will be used to win awards.

As a Presenting Sponsor, Stirling Ultracold will be honored to present awards to institutional winners of the Freezer Challenge at the 2017 I2SL Annual Conference next October. This will include the Everest Award, based on the total number of points, and the Denali Award for total number of points per number of refrigeration units. Individual labs who have made the greatest effort to improve sample management and sustainability practices will also be recognized. The winning lab teams will not only be pictured in Nature magazine, but will also receive a coffee machine with Freezer Challenge mugs.

“This is the first partnership between My Green Lab and I2SL, which is very exciting,” said Allison Paradise, Executive Director of My Green Lab. “It’s a great way to outreach, and it’s a great way to get labs involved in the green lab community in a way that’s easily accessible.”

If you haven’t already, I encourage your lab to participate by signing up on the Freezer Challenge website. You’ll earn an award you can display to prove you’re greening your lab!

SU780XLE Earns Top Energy-Efficiency Rating in Ultra-Low Freezer Industry Report

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Click to Download Results

xleWe are proud to announce the release of test results validating the industry leading energy efficiency of our next generation SU780XLE Ultra-Low Temperature (ULT) Freezer. In an independently-verified industry report testing 15 ULT Freezer models, we recently received the industry’s highest energy-efficiency rating. Using the ENERGY STAR® Final Test Method, the SU780XLE’s “weighted average” energy consumption (@ -75°C) was 6.86 kWh/day (steady-state) and 7.86 kWh/day with 6 door openings over a 24-hour test period…

Read the Full Press Release

Our Next Generation ULT Freezer, the SU780XLE is Now Available

The new SU780XLE upright ULT freezer pictured with the Stirling Ultracold operations team in our Athens, OH manufacturing facility.
The new SU780XLE upright ULT freezer pictured with the Stirling Ultracold operations team in our Athens, OH manufacturing facility.

The entire Stirling Ultracold team is very pleased to announce the official release of our next generation ultra-low temperature freezer. Now available for order, the new SU780XLE is successor to our award-winning SU780UE upright model, which has become the industry benchmark for ULT energy efficiency since its introduction in 2013.

So why did we decide to bring the new “XLE” to market when our current model was already the established leader in sustainability, energy savings and performance? While we were very proud to have introduced the most significant ULT innovation in decades, the advanced Stirling engine, our new ULT model exemplifies the spirit of continuous improvement that has helped us change the industry mindset in a relatively short time. When we realized that we had learned to make a great freezer even better . . . That’s when we decided to introduce the new XLE!

The SU780XLE not only uses 70-75% less electric power than standard compressor-based ULT freezers, but it takes cooling performance integrity and system reliability to a whole new level.  This will allow our users to keep their valuable samples safer than ever, while at the same time spending even less on energy and lifecycle cost.

The new SU780XLE ultra-low freezer features the following:

  • +/- 1°C temperature variation over time at steady state
  • 1/3 additional sample storage per square unit of floor space
  • New ergonomically designed handle and cabinet
  • 100% natural refrigerant cooling system
  • Industry’s widest temperature set-point range: -20° to -86°C
  • 100% adaptive control, enabling the industry’s fastest temperature pull-down and door opening recovery
  • Universal voltage input, plugs into any outlet

Our freezers have already proven that cooling performance doesn’t have to be compromised to save energy. That’s important because it means that organizations can reduce environmental impact and cost, while using the very best tools to find a cure for cancer. The introduction of the new XLE ultra-low freezer continues our industry leadership in system reliability, sample integrity, sustainability and lower total cost of ownership.

Find out more about our new SU780XLE upright model.

The Stirling Engine Celebrates Its Bicentennial

Stirling Engine inventor, Robert Stirling
Stirling Engine inventor, Robert Stirling

The matchless cooling technology at the heart of thousands of our ULT freezers today, has a unique “garage story” that traces its roots back to the invention of the Stirling engine in 1816. First conceived by a Scottish minister named Robert Stirling, the original reciprocating piston heat engine was designed to improve fuel efficiency over more common steam engines of the time. Although our version of the Stirling engine uses advanced electronics, linear motion control and gas bearings that Robert Stirling could never have dreamed of, his amazingly efficient design concept is at the core of our freezers today. That’s why the recent bicentennial celebration of Dr. Stirling’s discovery is personally meaningful to me and for all of us at Stirling Ultracold.

A model of an Stirling engine can be seen at Galston Parish Church, where Robert Stirling ministered for 54 years.
A model of an Stirling engine can be seen at Galston Parish Church, where Robert Stirling ministered for 54 years.

Since its creation, the Stirling engine design has seen a number of advancements, including an early application of our patented technology on the Space Shuttle and the RHESSI satellite, where the engine has been cooling instruments for over 14 years in a geocentric orbit. In 2009, Global Cooling’s founder David Berchowitz led an effort to harness the significant cooling performance and energy advantages of the free-piston Stirling technology for ultra-low temperature storage applications. Initially, the portable Shuttle ULT was introduced, followed by the undercounter SU105U and the SU780U upright ULT freezer in 2013.

The Galston Parish Church has an active congregation in Scotland today.
The Galston Parish Church has an active congregation in Scotland today.

Since the beginning, our use of the Stirling engine has been unique in the ultra-low temperature market. We’ve been able to provide the research community with more efficient, reliable alternative to decades-old cascade compressor technology–thanks to Robert Stirling’s invention.

Celebrating this invention, Northumbria University (Newcastle, UK) recently hosted the 17th International Stirling Engine Conference and Exhibition. Stirling Ultracold founder, David Berchowitz, and I attended the event, which marked the invention’s bicentennial anniversary. As the global leader in the commercialization of the Stirling engine, we were pleased to share our story with conference attendees. I spoke about our experiences in the ULT freezer industry and how we’ve changed the way organizations think about buying freezers.

Stirling Ultracold’s Neill Lane (left) and David Berchowitz (right) at the Robert Stirling monument in Galson Scotland.
Stirling Ultracold’s Neill Lane (left) and David Berchowitz (right) at the Robert Stirling monument in Galson Scotland.

While in the UK, we also had the chance to visit the church where Robert Stirling ministered for more than 50 years, Galston Parish. Stirling’s invention is held in such high regard at the parish, there are engine displays inside the church, along with a prominent Robert Stirling monument in the local cemetery.

As the Stirling engine passes its 200-year benchmark, I believe we’ll continue to see improvements and new applications for this inherently-efficient engine. We owe a lot to Robert Stirling and, having recently commemorated his achievement, I feel a sense of pride as we continue his story. For a more in depth account of the Stirling engine’s history and its use in our freezers, you can visit our History web page.