Traditional industrial sectors are not readily set up to deal with technological innovation and change, but these are also sectors in which technology and innovation can have the most dramatic impact both on health and safety, and productivity.
Many of the leaders in these sectors recognise the importance and benefits of innovation, but because they remain heavily reliant on traditional machinery and manpower, they can find it difficult to bring in new technology.
It is by no means easy to prepare for innovation in a traditional industrial sector, but for those companies willing to take the time to investigate and integrate new solutions, the results can be significant.
As an example, 20% of the most innovative industrial companies are growing at a rate of 11.3% a year, according to research from PwC, this is compared to those companies ranked in the bottom 20% for innovation, which are growing at a slower 3.2% a year.
But while preparing for innovation can be difficult, there are a few simple things industrial businesses can do to make the transition easier and start reaping the benefits of innovative industrial change.
Start with a strategy
One of the first, and biggest, stumbling blocks businesses come up against when it comes to change and technology is that they have no defined strategy and move with the wind when it comes to which technology to bring in.
Thinking where your company is now, where you want to be in the future and what you need to get their will help focus any innovation project and help ensure you don't end up with a whole range of new technology and no idea how to use it.
Figuring this out will put your change project on the right footing.
Strike a balance
Similar to not having a strategy, many industrial companies - worried they might be missing out - can go "all in" on innovation and end up moving too far the other way with technology.
Having a balance and targeting innovation at the right areas – where large gains can be made with relatively little upheaval - will increase your chances of seeing benefits.
Simply changing out old Ex connectors for new connectors with hot-disconnect systems and reduced assembly times, for instance, might seem like a small change, but the time saved can be huge both during the initial installation and at regular intervals by removing the need to power down key machine components and the resulting downtime.
On the other hand, your operation may need a complete environment monitoring solution with both atmospheric and physical environment monitoring - which will include striking a balance between static and mobile equipment to ensure full monitoring and better safety, without burdening workers with cumbersome equipment.
Know what success looks like
This is the essential component to any innovation project.
Establishing your strategy early on leads directly into the stage of knowing what you want success to look like at the end of your innovation project.
If you're looking to improve health and safety in mining or tunnelling for instance, deploying a range of wireless static and mobile gas and dust detection equipment is an innovative way to achieve this goal and the resulting drop in injuries, health issues or late alerts can help measure success.
Similarly, Strata Monitoring can be an innovative way of managing structural environments and potentially hazardous locations and can seriously help to improve productivity in operations.
What is clear in modern industrial sectors, is that technology is paving the way for a far more productive and safe future for those within these industries, and those businesses and operations which are able to align innovation with business and operational requirements have a bright future ahead of them.
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