Since 2008, hundreds of TE Connectivity (TE) customers annually visit training seminars at TE's torch laboratories, located in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina (USA). Through these seminars, they learn first-hand how to install and evaluate TE's low-voltage (LV) and medium-voltage (MV) products.
Today, TE's Torch Lab is a dynamic educational hub for hands-on training. But only a few years ago, the facility was simply a shell of a room, mostly crammed with unused filing cabinets and boxes of office supplies. To meaningfully re-purpose this storage room, TE's field service team developed a plan and punch list to convert this space into a teaching lab for TE customers in the energy industry. The transformation required months of research and discovery to determine which elements would be best suited for creating a dynamic learning environment. After this initial work was completed, the transformation progressed quickly. Within a year, the reconstructed room had passed all required inspections and soon afterwards began operating as the "Torch Lab" – a name derived from the fact that the lab is fitted with many torches, which are used to demonstrate the process of installing TE's heat shrink products.
Torch Lab seminars are typically three days long and occur four times each year to meet high demand. The seminars begin within a typical classroom, where TE product experts explain the details of the featured products. Then, the class moves into the Torch Lab, where they are organized into teams and where TE's expert installers lead them through intensive hands-on exercises in installing the products. During these seminars, the customers who work in the field learn how to install TE's LV and MV products and gain insight on how TE products function in different energy and utility applications. They learn – through first-hand expert demonstrations – why the products are installed the particular way shown. After the classroom demonstrations are completed, the customers begin working in the lab, where everything they need – installation instructions, necessary components and tools – is available for them to properly complete an installation. During the seminars, customers typically spend about 70% of their time on hands-on work. To help customers get quick answers to their questions, the seminar team often includes a field service technician who can provide in-depth explanations on the correct installation procedure. This level of guided instruction has proven crucial in introducing new products to customers, many of whom begin ordering the new products soon after the seminar concludes.
On the last day of the seminar, each loop and team owner is tested in TE's MV Lab. This often sparks a little competition among the groups to see which team has completed the installation properly. This test also shows each customer how we effectively test our products. Each loop is evaluated for performance; the highest score means a proper installation. When a loop fails, the loop is cut open and the team is given the opportunity to see where the failure occurred – and examine how and why it happened.
These seminars are also open to manufacturing representatives and distributors of TE products; during these seminars, they learn how to effectively talk about the capabilities of TE products, with the goal of helping them to improve their sales process. Each person who visits the Torch Lab gets expert insight on TE with the most up-to-date details, the seminar syllabus is often updated to include new TE products. Repeat visitors always discover something new to learn. Regardless of an attendee's background or experience, our hope is that they walk away with a better perspective of TE and its product offerings. We thrive to meet our customers' needs and expectations which will in turn strengthen our partnership and support our ECE efforts.