Tips That Spark Innovation
EP Editorial Staff | July 1, 2021
Today’s manufacturing environment calls for agile operations that can rapidly respond to changes in demand, evolving customer and consumer preferences and needs, and broken supply chains.
Added to this are increased challenges to maintain the health and safety of team members.
This is familiar territory for enterprises that have embraced the convergence of artificial intelligence, big data, automation, and IIoT technologies to create the next level of manufacturing. Whether responding to pandemic-induced stresses or determining a game plan for how to evolve, manufacturing entities of all stripes can benefit from a renewed focus on innovation.
Here are some tips for encouraging and building a culture of innovation:
Focus on pain points and solutions
The best innovations are those that directly address challenges faced internally or with customers or consumers. Understand pain points in processes and products by talking to employees, customers, and consumers or investing in market research to understand where challenges lie. From there, focus innovation on where you can make the biggest difference.
Innovate across the spectrum
Innovation doesn’t need to be focused solely on products or manufacturing processes. It can apply to all areas of your operation from talent-recruitment strategies to employee engagement. In fact, in an era where there is a projected shortfall in talent, and retention may prove to be an ongoing challenge, innovative HR strategies could win big.
Apply innovation to large and small things
Not all innovation needs to be disruptive. At the plant level, even small changes can provide huge benefits such as increased safety, added efficiencies, and reduced downtime. Encourage teams to identify and solve challenges that may have become normalized over time.
Embrace learning moments
Not all innovations turn out to be the big breakthroughs companies are looking to achieve. In fact, the road to success is often littered with what some think of as failures. Often these events can and should be viewed as learning moments that provide opportunity for growth and reflection. This reframing can go a long way to removing fear and encouraging calculated risk taking.
Create space for innovation
Innovation doesn’t happen by accident. It takes dedication, grit, perseverance, and tenacity to solve tough challenges and make things better. This can be hard to do without space—physical and mental—to think big.
The world is moving fast, and facilities need to keep up to not only survive but thrive. Innovation is key to this effort. By embracing innovation, plants can move further along the IIoT path, foster a culture of continuous improvement, and build excitement along the way. EP
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