Alfe, Jergens, and Animal Oralectrics Find Success in Innovation and Ideation
Ideation and innovation are more than buzzwords- they are core concepts that are integral to organizational growth. As such, they are tools we utilize every day at MAGNET.
As a strategic approach to solving problems, ideation is more than just brainstorming. In fact, our engineers, growth advisors, and experts at MAGNET use a strategic four-step process: define, discover, develop, and deliver. A company must begin with the “define” stage, where it clearly states needs, product audience, organizational strengths and other relevant factors. A research based phase, the define phase is used primarily to solve root problems before development begins.
The discovery and ideation stages play an essential role in seeing a product from concept to completion. Initial designs and mechanics are generated, risk analyses are performed, and stimulus mining takes place, leading to a developed idea. This idea can then be guided through industrial design and development as well as rapid prototyping, market testing/feedback, quality systems, and supply chain.
After necessary touches have been added and all logistics have been finalized, the product is ready to be delivered. Much of the work during this stage is reflective of sales needs, launch capacity, and promotional channels, all of which are determined prior to the product entering the market.
Innovation stems from solving problems, and MAGNET is a collective of professional problem solvers. We want to make innovation more attainable for you, expand your company, and maximize your profits. Let us show you the steps we took to turn these three manufacturers’ challenges into opportunities for innovation and growth.
With six plants across the United States, Alfe Heat Training is America’s largest commercial aluminum heat treater. The company sought our help in addressing issues with their Heat Treating Quench Tank System, which was failing prematurely and resulting in substantial downtime, unplanned maintenance, and wasted funds.
The first step in addressing the issue was helping Alfe articulate its purpose: optimize the current design of the Quench Tank Propeller shaft to prevent premature bearing failure and extend the life of the product. We also aided in establishing concept requirements, taking into account minimal clearance, safety issues, and load. Our internal engineers later facilitated a concept ideation session, where they established required criteria, generated multiple ideas, screened and scored concepts against the requirements, and ultimately presented the highest-scoring concept to the team for feedback.
In Alfe’s case, development and delivery went hand in hand. Mechanical designs were transformed into 3D models, which were used to create a bill of materials and install a full-scale prototype. MAGNET later monitored the prototype’s life cycle and built three additional assemblies.
The impact was unprecedented: the prototype ran for twelve months, four times longer than the previous model, before needing routine maintenance. This minimized unplanned downtime and saved both money and effort.
With divisions across the globe, Jergens is one of the country’s leading manufacturing operations. The company offers a diverse range of products and stands as a prime supplier in the aerospace, military, automotive, wind energy, and oil and gas industries.
Jergens expressed a need for improvement of many existing products, including their Gen 2 Kwik-Lok Pin and Jergens Lift-Check. More importantly, they found themselves without direction in the areas of ideation, innovation, and even a mission statement. MAGNET’s breadth of knowledge and experienced personnel helped Jergens establish goals and direct resources effectively.
After a relationship was established, MAGNET and Jergens began an intensive ideation session with an eclectic group of people, ranging from engineers to marketing professionals to parking lot attendants. The session helped Jergens’ leaders understand the value of a diverse range of perspectives – in fact, the session generated more than 20 plausible concepts. After scoring ideas against a set list of criteria from manufacturability to IP potential, the list was narrowed to seven favorites, which were then combined to make one successful product.
Jergens has ultimately adapted this process and created their own techniques, using it on a monthly basis to solve workplace and production challenges.
Animal Oralectrics is a technology company currently transferring cutting-edge human oral care to household pets. While the business had success creating an oral health solution for animals, they needed assistance from MAGNET in designing and building the solution.
The company was committed to developing a product that could benefit dogs by improving their oral hygiene. After defining the look and feel of the product, MAGNET staff outlined the parameters, electronic components, performance, and functional requirements of the device. Digital renderings were turned into physical prototypes during the processes of mechanical engineering, rapid prototyping, testing, and molding.
With a successful product in hand, Animal Oralectrics can now reach the biggest milestone yet: deploying the product to market.
HEADLINE The survey definitively shows that product innovation leads to more growth, while “grow your own workforce” strategies will be needed to fill the major labor shortages hampering small manufacturer growth. Emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, and digital manufacturing are beginning to enhance innovation and productivity, but still have significant room for adoption amongst Ohio’s small manufacturing businesses. ABOUT THE SURVEY Under the direction of the Ohio Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Ohio MEP), MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network conducted a thorough survey of Ohio’s manufacturing base. Contributing approximately 20% of Ohio’s jobs (and driving in some regions up to 50% of Ohio’s economy), and generating a disproportionate amount of export revenues and Gross Regional Product, manufacturing is critical to Ohio. Greater than 95% of Ohio’s manufacturers are small (under 500 employees), and these manufacturers need to remain competitive both nationally and internationally to ensure our economy’s health. Ohio’s Development Services Agency and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which runs the MEP, recognizes the importance of this sector and fuels MAGNET and the Ohio MEP program to directly serve and support innovation, efficiency, and growth in small and medium manufacturers. What manufacturers need
How Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Can Help Keep Our Engineers Safe and Our Manufacturing Strong Recall how difficult it was to put together complex LEGO creations when you were a child or helping a child. Now, picture assembling a fighter plane from a room full of parts. Even highly trained engineers can benefit from technology to help improve consistency and quality. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are making near-perfect assembly a possibility in the manufacturing space. By wearing AR glasses that use cameras, depth sensors and motion sensors to overlay images onto the real working environment, engineers and factory workers can visualize the exact bolts, parts, part numbers and instructions on how to assemble a particular component correctly. Lockheed Martin began using AR goggles and improved F-35 assembly time by 30 percent, in addition to increasing accuracy to 96 percent. In order to remain competitive, businesses should consider the ways VR and AR can improve efficiency and supply chain productivity. According to a recent BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research report, AR platforms can provide companies up to 25 percent in cost savings on installation of equipment. Here are four ways VR/AR is disrupting the mid-market manufacturing space:
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