Idea engineering leads to 'Eureka!’ moments

Lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, and many other process improvement programs do more than reduce costs and eliminate waste. They create opportunities for growth by increasing capacity. This outcome may be welcome, yet often manufacturers struggle to increase sales enough to fill that capacity and grow their top-line.


Lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, and many other process improvement programs do more than reduce costs and eliminate waste. They create opportunities for growth by increasing capacity. This outcome may be welcome, yet often manufacturers struggle to increase sales enough to fill that capacity and grow their top-line. Thanks to a new program that focuses on practical growth solutions, businesses like Rosewood Industries are finding a method for capitalizing on this opportunity.

Rosewood makes custom wood cabinetry for kitchen and bath residential use. Stigler, OK-based Rosewood employs 80 people and averages annual sales of $6 million. The company had enjoyed steady growth of 15-20% over the past several years, and reaped the benefits of the 2005 housing market boom with single-year growth of 73%.

When the industry settled down, Rosewood’s CEO James Love decided to take advantage of services suggested by his local industrial specialist Chuck Prucha, who works for the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance. “Lean and Six Sigma could help us become more efficient and better able to handle the next pop in our industry without having to add temporary staff,” Love said.

As Love and his team began to learn and implement process improvements, they also began to envision the capacity growth they’d achieve as well. “A job that would have taken 60 hours could instead now take 30 to 40,” said Love. “That would free us up to take on new sales avenues for growth that previously we could have never pursued.”

To help Rosewood grow their sales and their business, Prucha told them about a new program that the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance was piloting called “Eureka! Winning Ways”.

“The Eureka program takes companies through a streamlined and quick-paced process over seven weeks,” said Prucha. “At the end of that time, companies have the data to decide whether or not %%MDASSML%% and how %%MDASSML%% to proceed with developing and delivering new ideas into the marketplace. It takes the guesswork, and much of the risk, out of new product development.”

Idea engineering

Created by nationally known growth consultant Doug Hall of Eureka! Ranch, the Eureka! Winning Ways program turns innovation into a data-driven engineering-styled process. Rosewood began the program with a one-day workshop in which company management, key line staff, and owners came together to examine and identify opportunities for new sales, new products, and new markets.

“This program gave us an approach to pin down what we do well and convert that into new opportunities,” said Love. The process of refining and rethinking ideas from all viewpoints in a structured setting has proven to be eight times more effective than traditional brainstorming.

Rosewood generated more than 50 detailed ideas. Love and his team selected four for the next phase of the process, success screening. Based on 50 success factors and data from 4,000 previously market-tested ideas, the screening reviews how well an idea demonstrates an overt benefit, a dramatic difference and the real reason customers should believe in the product or service.

One week later, the Rosewood team reviewed the results of the screening. Two ideas rose to the top as likely to succeed, and the company then moved into a 30-day discovery phase to quickly examine at zero risk the viability of the ideas for the company, so that it could make a decision about whether or not to move the product into development.

New ideas, new growth

One idea for an online tracking system proved to be, according to Love, “ridiculously simple.” The system would not only free up staff capacity for cross-training and other projects, but also provide a value-added tool for sales representatives and customers that would help Rosewood stand out among its competitors and capture additional market share with very little investment. Rosewood projects these benefits could add 10-20% to existing sales, and attract many new dealers when the system is available later this month.

With the implementation of its Eureka-inspired ideas as well as the addition of new markets that their enhanced capacity makes possible, the company projects a 60-70% growth in business in three years. That could bring Rosewood to $10 million in annual sales.

When that happens, Love and his team expect to reload their Eureka process again to generate another round of ideas. “We learned how to choose new avenues for growth that fit with our corporate philosophy, and became convinced that big growth comes in new markets, not with our existing customers. Serving them well is important, but we now realize that we will only get limited sales growth from them, so we need to look always to new markets.

“Now we have a process to generate and filter and pursue ideas, and a much more aggressive growth philosophy that has made us realize that we can be so much bigger than we are today.”

Author Information
Roy Peters is the president of the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance, a not-for-profit organization that helps Oklahoma’s manufacturers become progressively more successful in their marketplace. The Alliance is an affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology The Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), located in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Information can be found at its Web site: .

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me