Ideation sessions play a crucial role in the innovation process and lead to the culmination of new products, processes, and a sense of collaboration within the business. MAGNET often utilizes these techniques to help companies achieve growth through creativity, and a recent engagement with plastic molding company Mar-Bal Inc. was no exception.
Founded in 1970 and headquartered in Chagrin Falls, Mar-Bal manufactures BMC Thermoset composite products and customized materials. The company wanted to understand more about the ideation process as well as the overarching theme of driving innovation throughout their business, which resulted in the first Mar-Bal Innovation Summit.
Held at the MAGNET facility in downtown Cleveland, the two-day workshop featured MAGNET growth advisors and engineers engaging with key members of the Mar-Bal team, helping them foster ideas that could potentially streamline operations and bring large-scale improvements to the company.
“There has to be a process,” said Ron Pauff, Mar-Bal’s Director of Global Marketing. “This ideation summit allowed us the opportunity to step back from our daily lives and come to an environment where we could spend time understanding the needs of the customers.”
“It’s kind of a blend of structure and free flowing imagination. There are rules, and there are processes and a cadence and a timing to keep the event moving forward but it really is about exchanging ideas,” said Materials Engineering Director Mark Imbrogno. “No matter how simple or complex they might be, the outcomes are good solid concepts to drive innovation through the pipeline.”
Also in attendance were Mar-Bal President Scott Balog and Dean Talip, who currently serves as Reinforcements Product Manager for national manufacturer North American Composites.
“The ideation session was great,” Talip said. “I don’t know if it was the time frame, the music, or the procedure, but the way it brings out different ideas is amazing. It made me start to think in ways I never have before.”
“We have worked with MAGNET for a number of years on a number of different projects. We really enjoyed this,” Balog said. “There was a lot of good follow-up that came out of what we did, and we are going to be using this as strategic planning as well as advanced product development processes.”
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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