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Thread: Innovation requires experimentation to overcome limitations...

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    Diamond Member adrianh's Avatar
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    Innovation requires experimentation to overcome limitations...

    The reason I thought of this is because I just spent a tremendous amount of time trying to solve a problem. The problem might seem small but it does have serious implications for my business and opens up all sorts of markets. I solved it on Sunday after lots of experiments. I proved that a lot of ideas don't wok but that a particular combination is perfect. Anyhow, I realized that the following holds true (also after having a great discussion with my German graphic designer lady colleague ).

    Innovation is only possible with experimentation while having to overcome limitations. The reason I think that this is true is because there is no need to experiment if there are no limitations. We work in an environment where money is tight and resources are limited. We have to find solutions within defined boundaries and those boundaries force us to look for solutions though experimentation.

    Many people seem to think that all you need is an idea, to make a product and then to sell it....then you have a business... It doesn't work that way, in my life anyway, we continually evolve each and every product with the main focus of manufacturing simplicity and productivity. The way we manufacture now is totally different to the way we did at the start. Most of the innovation came through having to rehash it all over and over again as we developed new skills and ideas. I would learn to cut something on the laser and that would get incorporated into the models or I would find a new material for a totally different product and that then gets used in our products.

    The point that I am getting at is that business is not static, the entire entity should evolve over time, and hopefully you are smarter than us in that you learn from the mistakes that others have made rather than bumping your head over and over again.
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    I agree. I have often thought that the only way to have a profitable business when you manufacture, is to really streamline every single step. There are so many people trying to do what I do because they think it is easy, but the majority do not survive, because they cannot cope with manufacturing the volumes required to really make a profit. I think my IT background in system design helps, as it was an environment where you really had to think through each step carefully.

    Whenever I come up with a new product, I make the first 20 or so batches, until I have made the process efficient. I then train someone else to do it.
    Sometimes the only transport available is a leap of faith

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    Diamond Member AndyD's Avatar
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    I think streamlining your production processes is great, efficiency saves money but only to a point. It eventually becomes a game of deminishing returns where the savings take more work to achieve than you're ever going to save by making the changes.

    This is one example I read about a while ago;

    Drivers stuck in traffic while waiting to turn left, take note: making three right turns makes better sense.

    At least that’s what package delivery company United Parcel Service has figured out.

    The company, whose bread and butter is getting parcels to destinations quickly, has reduced left turns, creating efficiencies and cost savings on their gasoline bills.

    “Left turns are always a last resort,” said Gordon Reed, director of customer solutions for UPS Canada. “We design our whole routes to turn right. The rationale behind it is you idle less and you’re not sitting, waiting at lights.

    “You can do more stops in an hour than if you are turning left.”

    The company, with its signature brown trucks and delivery staff in brown uniforms, moves 16 million packages a day worldwide. By having trucks avoid left turns, UPS learned it saved time, conserved fuel and boosted safety. source
    The line that makes me wonder is this one 'At least that’s what package delivery company United Parcel Service has figured out.'. I don't believe for one minute they casually figured it out. I strongly suspect the paid a small fortune to a specialist company to figure it out. Then they paid another small fortune to impliment it as a company policy. Another small fortune to re-write the route planning software....and so on. I have no doubt they might have realised a small time saving and a small fuel saving on some routes with this innovation but I wonder did they overstep the line where the cost of discovering and implimenting this change will never reach a break-even point financially.
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    I think you have to be OCD to take it to those lengths lol.

    Efficiency is crucial and the beauty of true efficiency is that you know when it cannot be improved. I have found that once we have streamlined a process, we still use the same process many years later.
    Sometimes the only transport available is a leap of faith

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    Diamond Member Justloadit's Avatar
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    I do believe in a continuous development process, until it can no longer be improved.
    There will always come a point where the financial saving is overcome by the cost of implementation.

    In electronics, this point of no return tends to come faster than other fields, simply because of component manufacturers following the same root.
    Either components are discontinued, or the cost of equivalents become more price friendlier, which requires remodeling the equipment, as they are not drop in replacements.
    It is an endless battle and does take its toll in attempting to being competitive or offering the best price
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    And sometimes a simple comment from a total outsider could improve the way things are done. Hence companies implementing suggestion programs to employees with a percentage reward. Sometimes we get so focused on something we are doing that only once we sit back and look at the bigger picture or some else points out simple thing which could be done in a different way do we see it.

    I am guilty of this, a good example is the project i have just completed, now that it is completed and i look back, there are a few things i would have done different. I know when i tackle the next one it will be done faster and neater with more hands.

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    Diamond Member wynn's Avatar
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    Just remember before you try this in RSA you need to make three left turns because those stupid 'Yanks' drive on the wrong side of the road!

    The theory make absolute sense because you are not turning across the flow of oncoming traffic at any intersection or traffic light.
    Circles on the other hand render the theory obsolete.
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    Diamond Member Justloadit's Avatar
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    The other issue in RSA, is that most motorists do not understand the law, and block intersections and cause a grid lock when the lights change - I suppose this happens because our taxi drivers would just push in front and not allow the traffic to flow at all.
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    Diamond Member adrianh's Avatar
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    I agree that products can only evolve to a point. The ideal then is to use all the lessons accumulated in that evolutionary process and implement them into the next product at the outset. It took me a long time to find the commonalities between the various products. Once those were established and entrenched it became very easy to develop subsequent products. I find that I now think in terms of re-use when I do any development work. I hardly ever do one-off work but rather design in a way that the components are reusable in other products. I would think that in terms of electronics it would be like building up a library of sub circuits that you can drop into you schematic capture program or reusable software sub routines.
    How easily someone is offended is directly proportional to how stupid they are.
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