By Neil Menezes
Looking to grow your advanced manufacturing business? All you need is a good idea for a new product or way of doing something differently. It’s not nearly as easy as it sounds. But for the approximately 30 advanced manufacturers gathered last week for the first of six Innovate > Forward sessions, many are now ready to take action.
Camatech Inc. in Milton, for example, is an advanced manufacturer of high tolerance parts primarily for the automotive and aerospace industries. After Tuesday’s
event, Camatech’s President, Ed Smith, commented that, “Camatech had gained insight and actionable processes for product development and related marketing activities.” And although Camatech had only planned on attending the first session, Mr. Smith has now booked for each of the five remaining dates.
The session began with a recommendation from the first speaker, entrepreneurial veteran and mentor Andrew Maxwell. “Innovation is about doing something differently,” he explained, “Be it a new product, new equipment or even a new process. But to do something differently, you need to go back to basics, specifically, conduct a SWOT analysis to help you honestly—and critically—look at your company, products or process. You’ll be able to identify the best ways to maximise your potential while using scarce resources.”
Event keynote speaker, Larry Fitzgerald, is Site Leader and Integrated Supply Chain Director at Honeywell Mississauga. Although the experience of a global corporation can sometimes be lost on an audience of mid-size companies, Mr. Fitzgerald’s message struck a chord with the audience that found his advice could easily be applied within their organizations. Smith from Camatech particularly felt he did an excellent job of communicating to the SME audience.
Mr. Fitzgerald stressed the importance of innovation to Honeywell, where their goal is to have a great position in a few good markets. Honeywell’s product development policy focuses on developing products as quickly as possible, taking into heavy consideration the voice of the consumer, regular product performance review and in-house innovation. Honeywell’s development of a staged process for innovative products with regular review and input has allowed them to quickly identify changing needs and decision points.
Representing one of several partner organizations behind Innovate > Forward, John Brison, commented that “the initial feedback on RIC’s first session has been very positive”. Brison is a partner with BDC Consulting and had encouraged several clients to attend, including Camatech.
Last week’s session was the first of six, each being held at the Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Design Technologies, Sheridan College, Brampton. Each session is targeted towards entrepreneurs developing innovative technologies in the advanced manufacturing sector, with the intention of fostering ideas, sharing successes and failures and gaining mentoring support. The next session will be February 23rd and the keynote speaker, Coby Segall, Group Lead – Research and Innovation at Psion. Click here for full details.
Neil is the business analyst at the RIC Centre. He works with entrepreneurs in residence and RIC clients on a regular basis. He is currently pursuing an M.B.A from the DeGroote School of business at McMaster University.