Blog posts tagged with Innovation

Thank a Librarian

October 13, 2017 by Sam Wasylyshyn

During the early 1930s, IBM developed the first modern accounting machine designed for the financial sector. However, the banks weren’t buying the IBM machines; in fact, they were just trying to stay in business, and no one was investing in new equipment. The accounting technology was new, and people didn’t understand its potential yet (thus a reluctance to invest in it). Even with this dismal outlook, IBM found an unexpected solution: libraries. Unlike the banks, libraries during the early days of the New Deal era had money to invest. After the famed New York Public Library bought an accounting machine, others followed suit, leading to more than 100 purchases by libraries across the country. Once the economy regained momentum after World War II, the business community once again had the money to invest and recognized the sheer importance of computing technology. IBM redesigned their machines to help companies complete their payroll, and within a few years, IBM became a leader in the computer industry. Have you ever experienced an unexpected occurrence similar to IBM? Was in how the product was made or how the product was sold to the market? This story covers one source of innovation known as “unexpected

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Supply-Chain Traceability is Vital

October 24, 2016 by Liz Fox

Manufacturers have always been only as good (or bad) as their suppliers. Some vendor errors and delays could be overcome, but problems in the supply chain usually rippled downstream, damaging quality or delivery. Manufacturers soothed irritated customers, and that was the end of it. And then the world changed. Today manufacturers are held responsible for the practices of suppliers, by both customers and governments. Supply-chain traceability rules, such as those affecting food and beverage markets (e.g., FDA Food Safety Modernization Act) and the high-tech industry (e.g., Conflict Minerals) are increasingly common — and will soon encompass EHS and corporate governance issues. With so much regulatory enforcement and scrutiny, you might think that manufacturers are taking aggressive steps to manage their vendors. Not so much. A full 60% of manufacturers have limited or no real-time tracking of supplies and products at their immediate suppliers. And 15% of manufacturers have no real-time tracking even in their own plants. Looking for a customer order? Forget it. But looking for trouble? You’ve found it. As government, customer, and public pressures mount for manufacturers, supply-chain traceability will become an immense competitive differentiator. Some executives recognize this, and are already developing supply-chain processes that improve performance,

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[M]NEXT: Why Small Manufacturers Matter

September 08, 2016 by Liz Fox

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), small manufacturers - companies with less than 500 employees – represent up to 99 percent of all manufacturers and account for 8.2 million jobs in the U.S. As a result, productivity among this group has continued to grow, leading to the idea of always improving in any way possible. To sustain results, it’s important to note that people matter just as much or methods or tools. MAGNET has a wealth of options for manufacturers who want to up their game through growth. Among the most vital is [M]NEXT, a new initiative focused on improving operations and employee engagement. Designed for small companies who want to grow, these workshops provide the knowledge and tools to implement Lean manufacturing principles, streamline operations, and foster more trust and communication between employees, thereby leading to top-line expansion and economic impact for the Northeast Ohio region. This series touches on a wide range of topics essential to manufacturers, including: Lean manufacturing and other fundamentals Kaizen, Kanban, and problem solving Utilizing Lean in office and administrative setting Talent pipeline, attraction, and retention ...and more! Take advantage of MAGNET’s world-class expertise and join the ranks of manufacturers that

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Designing for Manufacturability: Value Engineering

July 25, 2016 by Liz Fox

Successful manufacturers are hardly strangers to innovation. By improving products and processes, companies not only boost their top and bottom lines, but they also provide a better experience for the consumer. The advent of better, more effective output opens doors of opportunity for any company, and value engineering – an irreplaceable part of the innovation phase - is no exception. Defined as a systematic and structured approach designed to improve processes and products, value engineering is used to analyze existing products/processes and achieve balance between required functions. These functions typically include performance, quality, safety, and scope with the cost and other resources necessary to accomplish requirements. According to notable value-engineering group SAVE International, the process is also divided into six stages: Information Phase – gathering information to better understand the project Function Analysis Phase – analyzing the project to understand and clarify its required functions Creative Phase – generating ideas on all possible ways to accomplish required functions Evaluation/Judgment Phase – synthesizing ideas and concepts by selecting feasible ideas for development into specific value improvement(s) Development Phase – selecting and preparing the best alternatives for improving value Presentation Phase – presenting the value recommendation to the project stakeholders MAGNET has

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5 Important Things You Need in Your Business Plan

July 11, 2016 by Liz Fox

Many consultants, service providers, and industry experts have their own advice when it comes to business plans. Some opt for flashy presentations that revolve around target markets, and others are more detailed and central to various parts of the company. But one element remains consistent: a business plan should be a dynamic document that not only receives attention from company leadership, but also reflects a strategic plan that can be adapted to forever-evolving business and economic conditions. Below are some key elements of planning that owners, management, and other key personnel should always take into account (regardless of industry). Products and Services - List unique features, differentiators, patents, copyrights, lists of suppliers, etc. Thorough Market Analysis - Think about your market space. List current and prospective targets, existing clientele, feedback surveys, letters of intent, and competing companies or ideas. Market Strategy - Discuss how you're planning to sell and market your product. This part of your business plan often includes product pricing plan, business cards, marketing collateral, methods of selling, and credit-and-collection policies. Describe where, when, and how often you plan to touch these markets (and include the cost of sales). Current and Future Management Plans - Not only is it

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What does manufacturing look like in the final frontier?

May 28, 2016 by Liz Fox

In the not-so-distant past, there were times when much of the technology we embrace today was written off as science fiction. Smartwatches, tablets, and VR headsets are now part of everyday reality, the additive manufacturing sector is constantly buzzing with new ideas, products, techniques, and machinery that help improve and enhance businesses as well as general quality of life. But what happens when 3D printing is literally taken to new heights? Just ask Made In Space, a group of entrepreneurs, scientists, and developers who helped NASA launch the first 3D printer into space earlier this year. “Manufacturing in space has been something that has been a given in science fiction since time immemorial,” said Made In Space President Andrew Rush in a recent interview with TCT. “By having a manufacturing facility stationed in space, we can save thousands of dollars and cut the time significantly.” Founded in 2010, the company strives to “enable humanity’s future in space” by developing new technologies designed to operate in microgravity environments. AMF, an elaborate and permanent 3D printing system used on the International Space Station, is already making a splash with projected improvements in costs and lead times. But why is important to have

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Success Through Ideation: Mar-Bal Inc.

February 23, 2016 by Liz Fox

  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

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So You've Had An Ideation Session... What's Next?

February 17, 2016 by Liz Fox

“Ideation without execution is mere delusion” – Robin Sharma, author Your team has just come from a productive ideation session. Jazzed about their new ideas, they walk out with a sense of accomplishment and growth. But while everyone is buzzing with newfound concepts, two lingering questions remain: what happens after an ideation session, and how can you bring these ideas to life? More often than not, the enthusiastic abstraction found in a typical session can lead to the harsh reality of applying these concepts in a practical and plausible manner. Structure is crucial, and the potential pitfalls of ideation without execution loom on the horizon. However, there are several steps you can take to excel during this process and ultimately bring your concepts from your head to your hands. Methods vary from business to business, and companies as varied as Mastercard and LG have created custom strategies for ideation. But organization is a mainstay of most action plans, and the following steps can take you to the next level of success through innovation. Immediately capture ideas Regrouping is essential to any strategy, and ideation sessions are no different. A day or two prompts fuzziness on details, which can lead to

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Start Your Journey from Concept to Completion with Ideation

January 20, 2016 by Liz Fox

The term “ideation” is often thrown around in several industries, but what does it really mean to “ideate”? Generally defined as “the process of generating and communicating new ideas,” the semantic meanings of ideation often vary by purpose and field. Everything from engineering to marketing has its own definition of ideation, but one theme transcends industry: for people who crave innovation, there is nothing better than brainstorming. In manufacturing, ideation sessions are primarily viewed as a way to improve existing products or create new ones through problem solving. Engineers, designers, consultants, and other professionals come together to share concepts with one goal in mind: to solve challenges while utilizing different viewpoints and harnessing the full power of the creative process. But what makes for a fun, energetic, and productive ideation session? Diversity – An eclectic mix of backgrounds, professions, and work styles creates an environment where existing issues can be looked at from all sides and perspectives. While a creative individual may look at aesthetics, an engineer may view a product from a purely mechanical or functional perspective. An environment that encourages these different views allows ideas to blossom, and a diverse workgroup usually has a better chance of finding

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Ideation: A Beginner's Manual

May 18, 2015 by MAGNET Ohio

You have a company that’s experienced some success, but you feel you need more. You want to excel in innovation, but lack the resources to do so or have trouble determining a starting point. We understand these challenges firsthand - and we can assist you in reaching your goals of gain and growth. Before settling into the ideation process, a company must examine its potential in three categories: growth market, mature market, and declining market. These phases determine what can be done to enhance product leadership, customer relations, and existing products. Innovation in these core areas can maximize profits in both the top and bottom line, which is important for all manufacturers, regardless of size. At a recent MAGNET event, many companies voiced struggles in these areas, expressing challenges in increasing profits, improving client relationships, and modifying existing products. If you have experienced such challenges, MAGNET is here to provide you with the strategic tools necessary for achieving newfound growth. One of these is ideation, a systematic approach to the creation and use of new concepts and ideas. As part of the lengthy process of innovation engineering, ideation serves as a structure for solving conflicts in the realms of design,

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