How can a conglomerate get in touch with its customers in the most human way possible? How about arranging tours to its laboratories and inner workings? Well, 3M has that covered, minus the lab accidents and surprise results that come with it.
The company’s initiative is called Customer Technical Centre (CTC). Here, 3M invites a group of visitors which include regular people, potential investors, and members of the education sector, and showcase the many inventions and technologies the company has created. These range from items focussed on adhesive tech to reflecting sheeting that makes it easier for people to detect hazards and objects at night. A representative of a specific technology type is on standby on a demo kit booth to walk visitors through the inventions and their practical purposes in everyday situations.
3M Commercialisation Manager in R&D Ryan Ngei told e27 that the CTC concept started out small in the Singapore branch. “So far, the general feedback [for the test audiences] is ‘wow’. They did not know 3M makes so many products, and there are so many technologies that go into the product.” In a way, Ngei said that there’s a slight chance its visitors may be overwhelmed with 3M’s plethora of tech and inventions. “[Because of this] the CTC is meant to give them a glimpse of the five core technologies for a session, then slowly branch out from there.”
Due to e27’s startup and tech nature, we had our eye on the Liquid Immersion Cooling (LIC) system pictured above and the daylight redirecting film. With the former, datacentres have no need for so many air conditioners to cool it off when they’re active; it’s all done using 3M’s Novec solution that does not harm electronic components. When the server board is immersed inside, the hot components will boil the liquid. When it changes from liquid to gas, it will remove a lot of heat which eliminates the need for fans, heat sinks and air conditioning. While nifty, the solution will run a company or startup US$60,000 for three to four years and is totally dependent on the room/office setup.
The film invention directs natural light into houses through top panel windows in the most cost-efficient manner possible. The two items would be great to boost up productivity for startup companies with a bit of money to burn, all for the greater good of going green.
The takeaway from the CTC is about inspiration and reinvigoration. “We recently hosted an event for NUS and the Science Centre,” said Ngei, “When they come down to 3M’s offices, they ask themselves halfway: how can they inspire more engineering students? We definitely have a lot of people wanting to work with 3M after a usual CTC tour.”
However, he said that there’s room for improvement. “We can improve all these demo kit booths; we have to switch up the presentations and rotate them after half a year to prevent the tour from getting stale.”