MBT’s 2009 Innovation Insight Awards reveal manufacturers’ top priorities
Ask any group of manufacturing executives about the top challenges confronting their organizations, and the phrase "intense competition" is likely to be at or near the top of the list.
Ask for their best strategies for dealing with that competition, and "getting more innovative products to market faster" is often a popular response.
I knew these topics were on the top of manufacturing executives’ minds. Still, it was fascinating to see how these themes permeated the entries for the 2009 Manufacturing Business Technology Innovation Insight Awards.
"Intensely competitive" is the best way to describe this year’s selection process. Virtually every entry was worthy of some form of recognition. In the end, however, our judging panel selected the products and projects that were most reflective of MBT’s ongoing mission: explaining how technology can be used to solve real business problems.
Since getting innovative products to market faster is one of the biggest problems facing manufacturers, it wasn’t surprising that a large percentage of our award winners have attacked that problem in one form or another.
For instance, Celsis Rapid Detection, a Chicago-based provider of life science products and laboratory services, developed a method of quickly verifying whether a product is contaminated. For that they captured a first place award for Most Innovative Product by a Manufacturer.
The Celsis method-turned into a product called Celsis ReACT-promises to save makers of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and home care products millions of dollars by identifying the source of potential contaminants almost immediately after product testing uncovers their presence. This quick verification lets manufacturers know when they must shut down production lines for decontamination and when they can forgo this costly, time-consuming process.
The theme of getting products to market faster also was prevalent in the category of Best Product from a Vendor, where three of the four winners were product lifecycle management (PLM) software suppliers. Developers of this class of software-designed to accelerate the delivery of innovative products-have become quite innovative themselves.
First place in this category went to PTC, a company whose history of being a technology leader goes back to the early 1990s, when it introduced the first parametric CAD system. This year, PTC unveiled Windchill ProductPoint, a system that has harnessed Microsoft’s SharePoint Portal technology to create an easy, low-cost way of sharing product design data throughout a supply chain.
Speaking of Microsoft SharePoint, that platform figured prominently in a number of winning entries. Celsis Rapid Detection used SharePoint to create a Web site to host data related to the ReACT project. This proved extremely valuable when the primary product manager left the company. His successor found all product development history in one place, allowing product validation and testing to continue without delay.
Getting new products to market without delay is the goal of every manufacturing company today. As you will see by reading the stories of our 2009 Innovation Insight Award winners, a lot of manufacturers are doing just that.