MAGNET Ideation Sessions Help Manufacturers Define, Discover, Develop and Deliver
By Jim Rundo, Senior Business Consultant, MAGNET
“If only we had a way to solve this problem…”
“Our company has to introduce some new products soon…”
“We are losing business to new competitors…”
Most manufacturers have asked one or more of these questions at one time or another. It’s a normal part of business to face these types of challenges. The good news is there is a solution available to assist Northern Ohio manufacturers: The MAGNET Ideation process.
This process is part of MAGNET’s proven “4-D”approach (Define, Discover, Develop, Deploy) and can be tailored to handle company-specific issues, such as overcoming a design challenge, or support a company’s growth plans by facilitating the discovery of new product ideas. The key to the ideation process is that it quickly vets outs the best ideas, since for every successful innovative idea there usually are several others that fail to make the cut.
Companies looking for a solution to a well-defined, specific challenge can opt for a MAGNET “lunchtime” ideation session. This brief, focused engagement brings MAGNET resources together with a client who is seeking a solution for a single issue. Often held during an extended lunchtime period, the session yields several ideas, generated in rapid-fire succession by the participants, targeted towards solving the challenge.
On the other end of the spectrum, clients come to MAGNET seeking ideas for new products or product enhancements. In many instances, these companies are in mature market segments which are under pressure by new offerings from competitive sources. For these type of engagements, MAGNET sits down with the client to learn more about the company and its products, the markets they are in, and the needs of its marketplace.
More importantly, MAGNET seeks to identify key differentiators which would make a new product offering meaningfully unique to consumers, giving them a reason to believe, and thus a reason to select the new product. The information learned during this preparatory meeting serves as the framework for the ideation session that follows, where MAGNET and the client work together to generate ideas based on the key differentiators. The resulting ideas are then scored against this criteria, until the best two or three are identified.
These “best of breed” ideas can then be conceptually modeled, vetted out, developed, and then transferred to manufacturing. The beauty of this type of ideation is that it can be completed in as little as two sessions, each a half day long, plus a preparatory and closing meeting.
No matter what the challenge, Northern Ohio manufacturers have a partner in MAGNET ready to help them come up with new ideas in the discovery of new products or solutions to existing challenges.
Learn how a MAGNET Ideation Project helped Sauder Woodworking Co., based in Archbold, OH, develop a new product line: it’s WoodTrac Ceiling System. While the WoodTrac product line is still in the early development stage, Dan Sauder says the company is pleased that it has hit all its targets so far. The company has exceeded $110,000 in annual sales, and is selling WoodTrac in 13 Midwest states. Learn more.
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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