There and Back: Lifecycle of a Utah product.

Author:Sutherland, Spencer
Position:Business Trends

The Beehive State has one of the strongest economies and lowest unemployment rates in the country. But that success doesn't happen in a vacuum. Many Utah companies work with partners beyond state borders and across international waters to develop, manufacture and distribute their products.

Take Orbit, for example. The Utah-based irrigation and watering company recently introduced a new smart sprinkler controller called B-Hyve. Before the product makes it to customers in U.S. and foreign markets, it takes a path from Utah to Asia and back again.

Making sprinklers smarter

"Historically, people have preferred to turn their sprinkler system on in the spring and off in the fall. If they don't have to touch it in between, and the grass is green, then life is good," says Mitch Lord, executive vice president and CMO at Orbit.

B-Hyve changes that. The controller allows homeowners to control their sprinkler system from a smartphone whenever they want. "Wherever you are in the world, you can turn things on or off or change programs," Lord says.

While the mobile app is convenient, the biggest selling points are financial and environmental. The product uses data and algorithms to create a custom watering program for customers' yards, based on historical weather conditions and future forecasts. It can also be customized for type of soil, slope of the yard, style of sprinkler heads and more.

"The need for water conservation is a big deal," Lord says. The B-Hyve controller reduces water usage 30 to 50 percent, which adds up quickly, considering the average household uses about 2,000 gallons of water each time they run the sprinklers.

Water-thirsty states are taking note of the consumption savings and helping out with the price. "We intentionally brought B-Hyve to market at a price point--around $100--that makes it an easy decision for most consumers," Lord adds. "And in most markets, including Utah, there is a state-funded rebate of 50 percent of the purchase price."

From ideation to execution

The ideas for products like B-Hyve begin at Orbit's North Salt Lake headquarters, Lord says. "We have a robust product development process that spans everything from concept of the product, to market testing, to validation and the engineering design for manufacturing."

Orbit then decides whether the product will be manufactured in North Salt Lake or in its Asian factories. Often, it's a combination of the two. For the classic B-Hyve model, some of the components are...

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