Manufacturing Today - January/February 2014 - 21

STACI DAVIDSON

Innovation is an ongoing buzzword in the manufacturing industry - the U.S. industry knows it can maintain its global dominance
as long as it continues to innovate and bring new, exciting ideas to
the market. But that is easier said than done, and manufacturers are
constantly working to innovate and ensure they remain competitive in the market.
But is there an easier way to innovate?
What about innovation through collaboration? Manufacturing Today
recently spoke with Andy Zynga, CEO
of NineSigma, about how the U.S.
manufacturing industry can benefit
from open innovation.

MT: What kind of mindset or situation must manufacturing companies
be in to be able to focus on innovation?
AZ: The first step is to say, "I'm willing to look outside of established
channels to solve this need." Also,
"When the solutions come in, how
can I make them work in my particular environment?" A company
absolutely has to have good engineering and development resources inhouse to integrate these great technologies that are out there.
Executives can do a lot to help the
mindset by communicating the priorities internally. Procter & Gamble
CEO A.G. Lafley wanted to find a way
to bring more external ideas into the
business and tap into the global brain.
Executives can use incentive systems
to incentivize collaborative behavior
and overcome cognitive biases.
Some of our clients set up open
innovation teams to drive the
process. The team members collect
the needs and help everyone get to a
more collaborative stance.
MT: Are you seeing any trends
among U.S. manufacturers and their
attitude toward innovation?
AZ: I see a couple of things. The larger
a company gets, the more clients
expect the manufacturer to come
back and challenge them to improve.

Everyone thinks innovation takes a
whole new investment in a firm, but if
you have the mindset to collaborate
with new partners, you can really produce benefits.
Also, many companies are focused
on improving their manufacturing
costs and environmental sustainability. They want to reduce their carbon
footprints and save water. The larger
a company gets, the more they are
expected to understand their customers' customers better and help
them solve these issues.
MT: What could help manufacturers
better compete in the global market?
AZ: It's important that they don't just
have their own team doing investments and working to innovate - they
can tap into investments already
made by other companies. There is so
much knowledge, technology and
answers already out there. By tapping
into this, companies can achieve a
faster time to market. Studies show
that it is much more important to for
companies to go to market faster than
to wait for a patent.
Companies need to be open to collaborate on particular pieces of their
puzzle that they cannot or will not be
able to do themselves. Businesses
know quite well where those pieces
are. Technology searches are a great
way to find solutions for a company's
targeted needs.
GE and the NFL, for example, have
been working together to find ways
to improve head health in football.
They wanted to develop equipment
that would analyze whether a player
is OK to go back onto the field after
he has a collision. They found more
than 400 solutions to that problem
from 125 companies.
Another company wants to convert
carbon dioxide into useful products.
They are offering a prize of $35 million to anyone who can complete that
challenge. Companies know that
there are answers out there. mt
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2014 manufacturing-today.com

B UY AMERICAN
UY AMERICAN

Manufacturing Today: What does
open innovation involve?
Andy Zynga: It is going outside the
four walls to find and inspire new
ideas. A lot of companies work with
suppliers, partners or universities.
With open innovation, you go outside a company's framework and
look into the world for innovation.
When you find a roadblock in one of
your processes, you can look and see
who may have already thought about
that problem or found a solution. It's
very specialized.
Procter & Gamble, for example, had
an issue with shirts they were producing. They wanted a way to take the
wrinkles out of the shirt after it came
out of the dryer. They found that they
had to reduce the surface tension of an
organic material, and a company in
Indiana had a polymer that when
applied to cotton, would do that.
There was a European company
that makes a chocolate spread for
breads. Their product equipment
fills the jars quickly, but demand was
so high that the company wanted to
speed up its machines. Also, glass
breakage in the jars was a small problem. So, the company wanted to double the speed of the line and reduce
the breakage of the glass. We found a
bottler that put liquids into reusable
and new bottles. The bottler had
developed a process to disinfect the

reusable bottles with much less
water and reduced its water use
quite dramatically. The chocolate
spread manufacturer looked at the
bottler's process and found a better
way to do preventative maintenance.
It also was able to develop an algorithm to fix their other issue.

COLUMN BY

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - January/February 2014

Table of Contents
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2014 - Cover1
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2014 - Cover2
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2014 - 1
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2014 - 2
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2014 - Table of Contents
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2014 - 4
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