Craig Occhiato is the Market Segment Manager for Burkert Fluid Control Systems’ Life Science Division in the United States. Since joining Burkert in 1990, Mr. Occhiato started and managed Burkert’s Systems Engineering team before turning his focus to growing Burkert’s Life Science segment. Mr. Occhiato can be reached at craig.occhiato@burkert.com.

In your experience, what is the most important first step toward success for OEMs entering into the technology evaluation process?

Set aside extra time and resources at the start to research the latest technologies and services available. With today’s limited resources and cost constraints, the less your engineers have to invent, the faster and on budget your device will be launched into the market.

What are some key characteristics an OEM should be looking for in an embedded technology supplier?

Look for innovative suppliers to partner with that invest significantly in R&D, continually release new and improved products, and are available as consultants throughout your process. Another key characteristic is willingness of the supplier to be open-minded and flexible with changes and new ideas.

What are the most common pitfalls OEMs encounter when identifying and/or engaging with technology suppliers? How can a partnership with a technology supplier go wrong?

Signing a contract before you have thoroughly defined the scope of work, goals, milestones and expectations can lead quickly to confrontation. Make sure the supplier has a good track record of doing what they promise and that expectations are clear.

What are some best practices OEMs can employ to effectively manage partnerships with technology suppliers throughout the product development lifecycle?  

Effective communication is a must.  Set up direct communication between key individuals and establish a routine design review schedule. Most of all, communication must be open and transparent.
     Both parties must understand that they need each other to be successful. Make sure to include manufacturing engineers early in the process.

How has the OEM market and/or technology landscape changed over the past 10-20 years? Are there any external factors/trends in recent years that have had a significant impact on how OEM products are developed?
 
I think outsourcing was the major trend in the OEM market over the last 10-20 years. Successful suppliers understand the urgency of listening to the market—listening especially to their most successful customers and developing that gained knowledge rapidly into their next generation products and services.  Today’s products integrate the latest in communication, combine two or more technologies into one while being smaller, faster, greener, and simple.

What do you see as the key influencers in the OEM marketplace going forward? How will the OEM marketplace be different in the future than it is today?
 
Suppliers that can grow and adapt quickly with the OEM’s product and service needs will grow.
 In some markets OEMs are getting bigger through acquisition and become more profit/cash flow driven than quality or advancing science.
Don’t be afraid of the newest technologies, it may be just what you need to give your final product the edge. Do your due diligence to make sure the technology is proven, or invest extra resources for a thorough validation?  

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