The ways in which our customers inspire us

“Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it.” – Bob Dylan, American musician

Did you know that DIS-TRAN generated almost all its major innovations in direct response to customer requests, needs, or discussions?

It’s true. For example, DIS-TRAN’s eXpress Power Stations (XPS) were born when a customer in Nebraska facing unusually short outage windows. They could only take stations out of service for just a month to six weeks (rather than the more typical 4-6 months).

“They needed a way to expedite construction,” says John Halle, Midwest Regional Sales Manager at DIS-TRAN. So, we started doing skid-mounted substations, which enabled us to collapse installation timeframes for them.

The Pre-Fabricated Bus (PFB) came about after a wind farm contractor asked for help dealing with craft labor shortages.

The contractor was working in remote, rural areas with some relatively extreme weather conditions, especially wind, that was not conducive to outdoor welding. We worked with them to understand how we could help, and we invented an early form of the PFB (welded on one end before shipping to the job site, where they’d cut off the excess length in the field, eliminating most of the measuring and half the welding).

Factory-Built Substations (FBS) helped answer a question posed by a utility in Texas: since the XPS and PFB were primarily for the high-voltage side, what could we offer for the low voltage side?

“With questions and inputs from those guys, vision from our guys and management, and discussions with substation engineers here at DIS-TRAN, we evolved the FBS for the low side,” says John. The result? Installation in a day, shaving as much as two to three months off their total construction time. (You can read more about this project here.)

The common thread: it’s our customers who inspire us to repeatedly create new and better solutions.

“No engineer or project manager wants to admit that they’ve got problems,” says John, “but the more we talk with them, we figure out that they do.”

From there, DIS-TRAN looks inwards to determine if we have a solution or product that can satisfy the needs, difficulties, or inefficiencies that these customers face day-to-day. Despite our range of innovative products, we don’t have a single product that will fit all situations. Instead, we approach customers like we’re on a fact-finding mission to determine what problems we can solve; and then, as a custom-fit shop, we engineer the solution that they need. “Bottom line, it’s time and labor,” John adds. “They can’t get substations built fast enough and within budget.”

But whereas those are problems for our customers, they’re just inspiration for us. The only question now is, what will we innovate for your next project?