This week we were fortunate to spend a full day with Rick Rothwell and Dileep Thatte on training for educating clients (sales) on Innovation Engineering, and this session really helped drive home two important points for me. First is that the Innovation Engineering (IE) system is presently a robust system in its early stage of adoption, and it continues to grow in its ability to effectively help ultimately drive meaningful growth for our manufacturing clients. The second point is that there are many ways available to use the tools when educating a client about IE. This was especially obvious when we were able to practice the Maple Grille Chalk Talk conversation – EJ’s video (http://vimeo.com/35475920) on the pipeline is great, but covers only one approach to this conversation, and there are many other approaches available to use.
OK, why talk about this? Because the use of Active Tech Matching (ATM) directly relates to recognizing that there are many different approaches to a client by an MEP center. The learning this week is that the How and When and Why you might consider using Tech Matching with a client actually matters. It matters because bringing up innovations directly to clients without any context amounts to a “tech
push” which almost always fails. Plus, it doesn’t build your credibility with that client either. However, we’ve seen evidence that introducing
innovations after setting the stage so that a client can be receptive to new ideas can spark some interest.
So where are you on the Comfort Scale when talking about an innovation from the NIM with a client? If you were technically trained then you have a good chance to speak intelligently about an area you are familiar with. However, if you are outside your technical comfort zone then it can be pretty difficult for you to bring an innovation up with a client. Furthermore, if you don’t have a technical background at all then it’s even tougher to be motivated to talk innovations with a client and expose your lack of knowledge. That’s why we have a resource in the NYMEP ATM Service in Peter Pritchard. ATM is available to you as a service to help translate what innovations or sources of innovative ideas can mean for an MEP client. ATM (and Peter) has enough experience to get you started to build confidence in engaging with a client on
this front of shopping innovations, and also have enough connections to additional resources available to add further clarity or depth if necessary.
ATM is a tool and a resource. We are currently doing FF-FC cycles of learning on exactly How and When and Why to use ATM to be more effective in using that tool and resource with your clients. We have a blitz on with three centers (CEG, HTR and ITAC) with an emphasis
on food industry clients, and we are very interested in other clients and centers willing to focus and learn with us.
I invite you to learn with me!
Hello Innovation Pioneers! In January I posted the description of the service that NYS MEP was developing- provide “Virtual” Design and Prototype resources and management for small-to-mid-size manufacturers, who lacked their own resources. We are making great strides in populating our resource database into an architecture, which will allow us to also develop a project database, so that we can track these Virtual Design projects and also keep a running commentary on resource competencies.
I wanted to alert you to another development in NYS MEP – we are becoming Innovation Engineering practices! Yes! National (NIST) MEP has committed to providing as many as 60 innovation practices across the country, with as many as 1000 practitioners in the near term. It is viewed as “the” way that the US will regain its role as leader in global manufacturing, by stimulating innovation.
In Peter Pritchard’s January 26 post, on Active Technology Matching he quoted a few references, such as Georgia Tech’s study that companies that adopted innovation as their growth story benefited greatly, outpacing the next highest growth strategy by 50%! Let me add that Innovation Engineering is a system, very soon to be offered by all the MEP centers in NYS, which helps companies ingrain innovation into their culture, systematically, and increases speed of innovation by 6X, while reducing risk by 30-80%!
The system divides the development of new ideas into three distinct phases: Create! Communicate! and Commercialize! Creation obviously is the starting injection of ideas, or the enhancement of existing ideas within a corporation. Innovation Engineering offers many tools to provide stimulus to your corporate team to create ideas for your company’s growth. MEP offers augmenting services, including Peter’s Active Tech Matching, which helps to introduce your company to Innovation Engineering, during the quest to find solutions to problems. Communicate! tools are available to help define your idea, and begin its development, clarifying the idea by defining the customer problem and the promise that the idea will resolve it. Commercialize! is obviously geared toward the defeat of death threats, and making the idea a reality.
In the Commercialize phase, MEP’s offering of Virtual Design and Prototype provides another augmentation to the Innovation Engineering program. Here, the resources that are needed to commercialize an idea are provided to those companies who lack them. By being aware that MEP offers these resources, a company sees early in the process that risk is minimized, in that there is a path, even if the company doesn’t have the resources, to develop the idea through design, and provide a means to prototype, all the way to a pre-production prototype that shows how the new idea fits into a company’s manufacturing process.
See your local MEP Project manager for an introduction into the world of Innovation Engineering, and see how comfortable (and fun!) it is to generate new ideas for your company’s growth, and develop those ideas all the way to new products, new processes, and/or new customers!
Small Business Trends has a good post about trying to sell ideas:
His answer has become known as “Arrow’s Information Paradox” and goes like this: If you try to sell someone a piece of knowledge, like an idea for a new product, they won’t buy it unless you also provide evidence that the idea will work. Otherwise, the buyer risks wasting money on ideas that go nowhere. Therefore, to sell an idea to someone else, an entrepreneur needs to disclose information about it.
That’s the problem. Ideas cannot be taken back once they are revealed. However, once someone has been told an idea, any incentive to pay for the idea evaporates since the information the information just provided for free cannot be rescinded.
It’s worth a quick read and demonstrates another hurdle one faces in the innovation process.
We all have a stake in either making growth happen in our business or in helping our client companies grow profitably. The question is how. How best can a company grow? Growth by acquisition or by organic growth is one perspective, but perhaps a better way to look at it is by resultant margin (profitability) from the growth. According to the smart people at Georgia Tech who survey this kind of thing for manufacturers, the best highest-resultant margin business comes from an adoption of an innovation strategy. This is a clear winning strategy – nearly 50% better than the next strategy option. Simply put, manufacturing companies who adopt an innovation strategy are far more profitable than those who adopt any other strategy.
So the desire to innovate becomes clear. As smaller manufacturers serving large OEM’s as clients, there is even more pressure for you to incorporate new ideas to achieve lower costs (productivity) and better performance than others who would love to have your business as a supplier. You may also have to deliver on productivity to the OEM in the form of Six-Sigma Greenbelt projects as a supplier. So then the next question is how. How does a company with limited resources incorporate innovation into its business operations? You have a system for billing, a system for logistics, a system for human resources, a system for accounting – where is your system for innovation?
Innovation Engineering is a system-level approach to incorporating innovation directly into your business and can immediately recharge your ability to drive profitable growth. The MEP centers across the state (and across the nation) are ready to engage with clients on implementing a system of innovation. But many would (and should) ask this first – does it work and can it help MY business?
Active Tech Matching is a great first-step to take that answers those first questions. We focus on a current problem or challenge you have right now. We document that challenge and create some search criteria with you that will assist with an intelligent search of the sources on innovation available and ready to provide solutions (including other companies, research institutes such as universities and corporate R&D operations, and research centers.) What comes from this effort? For starters, we identify QUALIFIED opportunity leads that are DIRECTLY identified from searching on YOUR problem or issue. In essence, we create OPTIONS for a company to consider. Options where there were none before.
How do we do this? As part of a nationwide system of consultants serving manufacturers, the MEP centers can access the vast know-how of who does what and who is willing to engage with others, and we bring that know-how directly to address a real need. We utilize a combination of web-based tools and a strong, knowledgeable network of consultants to create these options. We are connected to the research institutes, to the manufacturing companies and to the early-stage innovative companies.
So let’s get started! Contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to engage in the Active Tech Matching process or visit http://innovationsupplychain.com/registry/view.php?id=395 to learn more.
New York MEP is developing a new service, for its manufacturing clients, entitled “Virtual Design and Prototype”. This service will provide new product development services for small to mid size manufacturers, who realize the need to develop either a new product or improve on an old one, in order to achieve revenue growth and create jobs, but lack some or all of the necessary resources to conduct product development.
The model for product development will consist of a project manager being assigned to the client, to set up a virtual design and prototype team, to conduct the project. The MEP Project Manager will determine the requirements for the product, and establish the team from a database of New York State resources, also being developed as a part of this service. Those resources, from commercial as well as the extensive University sources in the state, will consist of systems engineering, design engineering, integration, test, compliance, and prototype, and will be joined as a team, dissolving at the conclusion of the project. The client’s interests will be represented by the MEP Project Manager, who will present the final outcome of the project to the client. Payment for management fees and contractor service fees will be made by the client to the MEP project manager, who will distribute to the team members appropriately.
One of the outstanding features of the service, its national uniqueness notwithstanding, is that it can serve to teach the MEP Client how to conduct his own design and prototype project, with future access to the MEP database assured.
Right now, this service is available through Hutch Hutchison, NYMEP (email@example.com), or your local MEP center. Regardless, the service will be administered within your local NYS region.
PRODUCT AVAILABLE for New Markets & Applications: Reusable Large Cable Tie
Fiber Instrument Sales (Oriskany, NY) currently sells a patented product to secure fiber optic cable for commercial installations. They are currently seeking additional markets to sell this product through other NYS companies, either as a straight distributor into other market verticals or as a value-add service provider who could purchase and utilize these fasteners in other markets.
The product is a re-useable cable tie as shown. The inside portion of the tie has two padded surfaces to prevent binding of the plastic tie into the cables. The tie has a release tab that can reopen the tie to be either reused or can be reopened to add additional cables into the loop. Current product offer is in six colors – green, blue, light blue, orange, yellow and black. Product views can be found at http://www.fiberinstrumentsales.com/products/enclosures-and-cable-management_fis-basic-tie-wraps.html
Other potential markets for this product to be used in include (not an exhaustive list):
- Electrical home wire installations
- Home plumbing applications
- PVC sewer line hangers
- Temporary outdoor power cable uses
- R&D apparatus installations (holding instrument cables, power lines, etc.)
- Home & garden outdoor use
- Camping & outdoor sports use
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is holding a Workshop on High Performance Computing for Industry. This workshop will cover key topics related to the ability of industry to take advantage of high performance computing.
The workshop will be held at:
Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, New York
Oct. 26th to Oct. 28th
More information is available at this site.
Small Business Trends has a good post that lists 65 apps for small businesses. The list includes standard apps like Facebook and Twitter, but most I haven’t heard of before. Check out apps like:
Fuze Meeting: Allows user participate in online meetings and see real-time screen sharing while talking on the phone. Cost: FREE
Card Munch: Allows users to take a photo and submit your business card. Each business card will be transcribed, edited and reviewed by virtual workers to guarantee accuracy. Cost: FREE
Square: Allows users to collect credit card payments by plugging a reader into a phone or iPad. Cost: 2.75 percent per transaction
Take a look and let me know if you end up using any of the apps.
MakerBot Industries is an open source manufacturing facility based in Brooklyn, New York, which produces and assembles 3D printers. These printers transform virtual 3D objects into real 3D objects through an automated process that lays down thin layers of molten plastic in the desired configuration. Even though 3D printing technology has existed for decades, their in-house R&D department has brought the cost of these machines down to less than one-tenth the traditional costs, making it extremely affordable to a range of clients: from hobbyists to engineers, with a wide scope of design applications.
MaketBot is making it affordable to put a prototype machine in your office.
The Albany Times Union posted a story about RPI’s two Centers for Advanced Technology (CATs). It’s a good piece, written by Larry Rulison, that gives a glimance of research capabilities in New York State.
RPI has two of these centers. One that specializes in future energy systems, such as fuel cells, and another more established program started in 1989 that specializes in manufacturing called the Center for Automation Technologies and Systems — or CATS.
The CATS mission is to help solve problems for businesses.
For instance, Bausch & Lomb came to RPI with an interest in speeding up the inspection and packaging of its Pure Vision contact lenses, which was done manually.
RPI’s robotics experts devised a solution to automate the process, which saved Bausch & Lomb $1.3 million annually.
In turn, the company added 12 new production lines and 76 jobs. And RPI brought in another New York company, Progressive Machine & Design, to build the new manufacturing lines, a $10 million project.
Each company that uses the CATS has to bring its own money to the table. In turn, the CATS lean on a research technical staff, more than 30 faculty from nine departments, and 40 graduate and undergraduate students who help come up with solutions.