Ownership in Innovation
September 15, 2016
By Shannon Wetzel
Click here to see this article as it appears in Modern Casting.
During a visit this summer to Saguenay Foundry (Saguenay, Quebec, Canada), which is featured in this issue on page 18, I was struck with how modern the place is. It wasn't because shiny new equipment recently had been installed, flat screens hung on the walls or robotic cells were humming in production (although robots were present). It felt modern because management strategically sought out how technology could advance processes and business while also being mindful of the development needed for personnel to grow into leaders within the company.
These two facets of business management have cropped up in conversations repeatedly over the last couple of months, and they are critical to how the metalcasting industry will push for innovation in the next 10 years.
The need for innovation in the industry's processes seems a given, but where do we focus that innovation? It will depend on your own business and niche, and Saguenay Foundry's story proves tech development isn't only for automotive and aerospace companies. You can use technology in smarter patternmaking, casting design, maintenance, and scheduling, for starters.
A few of our contributors are exploring how metalcasting facilities can benchmark the ways they use technology compared to other facilities. The idea is not for metalcasters to strive for a laundry list of ultra-modern technological principles, but to gain inspiration for where you might next implement a new technical tool.
A company constantly watching technology and considering how that can improve its operations will attract and keep an engaged workforce. This has proven itself at Saguenay Foundry, as it is fostering a new generation of leadership through young shareholders who are given opportunities to steer tech developments.
Ownership in the process is a main tenet of Sara Joyce's article on team building on page 24.
"You can have the best equipment, best technology and best processes," Joyce writes, "But without the people they mean nothing."
Empowering employees to explore solutions to problems is a sure way to drive innovation.
One of MODERN CASTING's goals is to share as many stories from metalcasters like you to provide inspiration to the rest of the industry. My favorite part of the job might be visiting operations in person and seeing the innovative ways the industry has met its customer's needs. The staff here looks forward to sharing more of these stories with you in the months and years ahead. If you have a story, let us know.