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Global partnerships build value

Global partnerships build value

Dr. Richard A. Kashnow, Chairman, President, CEO
Raychem Corporation, Menlo Park, CA

Kashnow was named to his present position in 1995. He came to Raychem from the Schuller International Group, a leading fiberglass manufacturer, where he served as president. While at Schuller, Kashnow led a re-engineering effort that resulted in dramatic increases in sales and profitability. Prior to 1991, Kashnow, Kashnow was a vice president and general manager of Schuller's parent company, Manville Corp. He began his business career at General Electric in 1979 as a physicist, where he did advanced work with liquid crystals, electro-optics, displays, and electronic multiplexing, finally serving as general manager of the company's Quartz and Chemical Products business. Kashnow received a bachelor's degree in physics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, then continued his studies at Tufts University as a NASA Fellow in solid-state physics, where he earned a doctorate in 1968.

In an economy where competition is continually intensifying, OEMs can't afford to rely exclusively on themselves to develop the next product design. Global partnerships and alliances can often offer key advantages in getting the next product to market ahead of the competition, according to Richard Kashnow.

Design News: How will partnering affect design?

Kashnow: Partnerships speed product development and marketing. They are working for Raychem in our touchscreen, circuit protection, wire and cable, display, and telecommunications businesses. For example, Raychem's telecommunications business partnered with electronics design and manufacturing firms in the U.S. and Asia to rapidly develop and produce the new Miniplex(R) multiplexer transmission systems, now our fastest-growing product family. In all of these areas, we are moving quickly to address customer needs. In alliances, partners complement one another's strengths and avoid losing valuable time on the development of expertise that others already possess.

Q: What are the design benefits of being a global company?

A: There is tremendous value in having global reach. Raychem has technical staff operating in more than 45 countries and across a wide range of markets, including the automotive, computer, electronics, and telecommunications industries. We can combine a broad perspective and extensive problem-solving experience in many industries with the ability to work across geographical and market borders to develop creative design solutions. Many industries and parts of the world share the same problems. By working on them together, we can come up with solutions more quickly. Having a global perspective as well as materials expertise strengthens our ability to contribute to the design team.

Global reach also enables Raychem to use its worldwide sales force to help market new technologies and products developed by others. For example, Raychem has formed an alliance with Superconducting Core Technologies Inc. (SCT) to market its new cryoelectronic module, which will extend the range of cellular-phone base stations and reduce the cost of setting up wireless networks.

Q: What does Raychem see as the most important trends in electronic design?

A: Designers are successfully moving electronics from sheltered environments into portable equipment, automobiles, telephone networks, and other systems that must work reliably despite rough treatment in such rugged conditions as temperature extremes and wet weather. This trend has generated increased demand for the type of lightweight, excellent sealing materials and systems that are Raychem's strength. It has also given rise to a rapidly growing circuit-protection business that produces PolySwitch(R) resettable fuses (solid-state polymeric PTC resistors) for rechargeable batteries, computers, telephone equipment, automobiles, and general electronics. In addition to enhancing product safety and reliability, these devices reduce warranty costs by eliminating the need to replace blown fuses.

Computer touchscreens like those from Raychem's Elo TouchSystems business will also be a critical component for moving electronics into the mainstream. Menu-driven touchscreen controls make it possible for users to easily operate a widening range of equipment simply by looking and pointing.

Q: What is next for Raychem telecommunications?

A: Raychem built its worldwide telecommunications business by utilizing materials technology to help telephone system designers connect, protect, and seal the copper network. As worldwide demand rises for more telephone lines and higher bandwidth, the telecommunications industry is moving toward fiber-optic, coaxial cable, and wireless systems, while still enhancing its investment in copper networks. The new access network topologies present different technical challenges, and we are working with system designers to help connect, protect, and seal these networks.

The need to expand the signal-carrying capacity of existing copper networks is being addressed with electronic multiplexing systems that can put several calls on a single twisted pair of copper wires, and we expect to be a leader in making rapid advances in these transmission system designs.

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