Blog posts tagged with Innovation

When Ocean Freighters pull a Houdini

November 15, 2017 by Sam Wasylyshyn

During the early 1900s shipbuilders and shipping companies worked hard to make ocean freighters faster AND more fuel efficient. To a large degree they were successful, speed was up and fuel consumption was down, however their economies of scale became progressively worse and they were losing money BIG TIME! The owners and managers of these large ocean freighters suffered a serious incongruity between expectations and results. They assumed that a majority of the costs were incurred while the freighters were sailing through the oceans. In reality however, the real costs of the freighter are incurred when the ship is at the port sitting idle. So no matter how fast and fuel efficient ships would become, the industry would continue declining! True innovation occurs when individuals are able to bridge an incongruity, which is what the industry leaders were able to do. Once they realized where the true costs were, the innovations were obvious. The shipping industry pulled a “Houdini” and began applying some of the best practices of the railroad and trucking industries. Those industries were utilizing roll-on and roll-off container ships for several years, something the shipping industry couple replicate. It’s important to note that it was a shift

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Ideation at MAGNET: The Process

November 14, 2017 by Sam Wasylyshyn

Idea generation, or ideation as it is formally known, is an important part of the innovation process. MAGNET has a long history of helping manufacturers around the region ideate to solve specific challenges. Recently I sat down with Bob Schmidt, one of MAGNET’s Senior Growth and Innovation Advisors, to discuss the topic of ideation and to better understand MAGNET’s ideation process. First thing I learned….Not all ideations are the same MAGNET conducts TWO specific types of ideation sessions: 1. Technical – Technical Ideation Sessions are structured to solve specific “technical” problems…such as what manufacturing processes could be applied to develop a new product or developing design concepts for a new or enhanced product based on defined market criteria. 2. Growth – Growth Ideation Sessions are structured to solve business growth problems, specifically around market diversification. MAGNET and the client do a deep dive into the client’s core assets, current products/services, and market opportunities as a foundation for idea creation. Second thing I learned….There is a structured process in place at MAGNET for conducting each type of ideation session The MAGNET Ideation Process Third thing I learned…..”The Commonalities”. Regardless of what whether the ideation session is technical or growth oriented, there

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Clark Kent or Superman? The Decision is Yours

November 13, 2017 by Sam Wasylyshyn

My message is simple, think BIG about your business. Ask yourself the simple question, “what business am I really in?” Your respond to this question can impact your business in a very significant way. Your answer will shape how you see your company, how your employees see it, how your competitors see it, and how your customers see it. If you think too small you run the risk of getting left behind. What do I mean by “thinking too small?” Take the railroad companies for example. For years they thought of themselves as being in the railroad business rather than being in the transportation business. This narrow view of their business allowed newer competitors in the “transportation” industry to take away their customers. The railroad companies serviced their customers only from a railroad perspective neglecting to expand into areas the automotive, aerospace, or telecommunications companies did. Let’s go back to thinking about your company. Are you in a larger “business” than you think? How can you think bigger to service more customers? Check out the examples below: • Hollywood – Movie Business or Entertainment Business? • Lifetime Fitness – Gym or Fitness Center? • Sheetz – Gas Station or Full-Service

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Failure is great, it gave us the Ford Mustang

November 06, 2017 by Sam Wasylyshyn

No one wants to fail (most normal people at least), we want to be WINNERS! Sometimes, however failing can be a good thing. An unexpected failure may be an equally important source of an innovative opportunity, at least it was for Ford. In 1959 Ford introduced the Edsel to the market, a carefully designed car that would help Ford complete its product line, making it competitive with General Motors. Despite all the careful planning, market research, and design Ford put into the Edsel it completely bombed, sales were far below expectation. When analyzing the situation, Ford realized it had been segmenting its customers all wrong. Instead of segmenting them by income group, they should be segmented by their “lifestyle”. The new segmentation strategy resulted in a restructuring of how Ford produced cars. Seeing a need to appeal to the “Sports Guy” it soon designed and manufactured the Ford Mustang in 1962 and the rest is history! Have you ever turned an unexpected failure into an innovative opportunity? This story covers one source of innovation, “unexpected occurrences”. For more information on this topic check out the full article here: The Discipline of Innovation by Peter Drucker.

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Joe Kanfer GOJO CEO shares Innovation Secrets

October 26, 2017 by Sam Wasylyshyn

On October 24th MAGNET teamed up with Brouse McDowell to host the first Manufacturing Executive Session at Brouse’s offices in Akron. The speaker for this session was Joe Kanfer, CEO of GOJO Industries, who delivered an amazing presentation on how GOJO successfully innovates. Joe laid out his 5 key ingredients for successful innovation: Drive out Fear Innovative companies develop a culture of confidence not fear. They reduce negative repercussions that come along with employees presenting new ideas and/or offering ways to improve things. Joe’s statement was “don’t get stuck in the middle”, don’t let fear paralyze you. In order to successfully innovate, get out from behind the computer, go visit your customers, stop making assumptions and start asking them the questions directly. Conduct Customer Research Innovation comes from understanding the work processes of your customers, knowing how they operate (ethnography), and delivering value by solving their problems. While you are “driving out fear” study the environment of your customers, investigate how your products are used, and look for other opportunities. Other opportunities will present themselves if you analyze your products before use or shortly after use. Watch Future Technology Trends Innovation doesn’t happen in a bubble. Technology is evolving fast,

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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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