by: Matt Getty – VP, Business & Product Development
The word “innovation” gets thrown around quite a bit throughout multiple industries. Here at Romeo RIM, it is a concept that cuts clear across the many different areas our customers focus on: transportation, heavy trucks, agriculture and construction, and even spas.
How can spas be innovative, you may ask? Well, before companies like Romeo RIM entered the market with our custom injection molding and long fiber injection (LFI) molding techniques, most spas — better known as hot tubs, although the industry doesn’t like to use that name too much — had frames made of wood panels. This caused problems with paint fading or chipping, even sometimes warping. So manufacturers made the move to plastics and other types of composite materials for their panels. This helped with some of the issues faced by wood panels, but it wasn’t exactly cost effective since the panels had to be pieced together and additional parts molded onto them.
Here’s where innovation came in: Romeo RIM developed a simple, yet effective cabinet system that replaces an existing spa cabinet to provide easier spa installation. With this new approach — using LFI — we are able to produce a large, sturdy cabinet that’s easy to assemble, as opposed to the old way of taking a bunch of smaller panels and patching them all together to form a spa frame.
In addition to spa cabinet being more cost effective and better performing, the appearance of the cabinet is unmatched by any other product out there. Wood grains can be simulated to match furniture like appearances. This is in addition to being able to produce unique looks and geometries that are becoming quite popular in the industry because of the injection molding like characteristics.
So you have a stronger, better product that can be produced more quickly at less cost. This is being received warmly by spa manufacturers who are excited about even more possibilities.
This is just one example of a market sector where we’ve been able to utilize our company-wise approach to innovation. Part of the reason for our success with innovation is because we just don’t sit around thinking up innovation ourselves, we go out into the field to interact with industry leaders and innovation experts to learn best practices we can implement at Romeo RIM.
In fact, recently I accompanied two of our product development engineers, Brandon Giles and Ian Smith in attending an innovation summit. This was a full day spent reviewing the implementation of Lean Process into product innovation to drive a quick, more focused production process and quality deliverables.
Sound interesting? Why not hear from Brandon and Ian themselves via this short Q&A about the summit.
Q: What took place at the event?
A: It was a lecture interspersed with practical application workshops.
Q: What topics were discussed?
A: The focus was to keep innovation projects small and manageable within a short time. We were shown how to keep a project focused to a singular solution ad not allow the project to “snowball” into something that was complicated, unmanageable and over budget.
Q: What information did you learn that is relevant to Romeo RIM?
A: The phrase used mostly was “Just Do it” (Nike). We need to develop innovation projects that are efficient and manageable to ensure the process continues moving forwards. A collection of smaller project units individually managed are more likely to deliver a usable solution than getting tied up in a massive project planning, budget, timing situation that may not start, let alone finish.
Q: Are there plans to take any of the information and implement it into Romeo RIM projects/practices?
A: Yes. We are finalizing an innovation process based on the learnings from this summit which will then feed into a Lean product development process.
So there you have it; a few of us regular guys learning innovative best practices, then turning around and sharing them with the rest of our dedicated team here at Romeo RIM. That’s just one way we continue to develop our lean manufacturing and operational excellence which enables us to build a strategic connection with engineering and purchasing professionals up and down the supply chain, aligning our strategy with their strategy to form strong, lasting relationships.