The magic of innovation

What do the automated teller machine, Kodak Photo CD, and the fax machine have in common? On the surface, it doesn’t seem like much. Each of these products, however, started out as an award-winning technology in the pages of a magazine.

04/18/2012


Government labs—and some private firms—have spent countless dollars and hours on basic research. Basic research is the purest form of research, often without specific monetary goals or timelines. Researchers often head into a lab to “build a better mousetrap” or better understand fundamental principles, and come away with something that changes our everyday lives. Basic research is debatable; some feel that this free-form research with no direct or immediate commercial benefits holds no place in our society. Others believe that basic research leads to innovations beyond our wildest dreams.

 

Either way you look at it, researchers have brought us some pretty cool stuff.

 

In addition to the three products mentioned above, the halogen lamp, Nicoderm anti-smoking patch, and HDTV debuted in the pages of R&D Magazine as winners of the R&D 100 Awards. While some of them may have been “mistakes” in the lab, others may have been developed to enhance technology already in place or to beat the competition—and make more money.

 

In the case of this publication, government laboratories—a hotbed of basic research—don’t participate in our top products competition, the Product of the Year awards. We do, however, see some of the most innovative companies enter the competition. These firms encourage and award innovation, so it’s no surprise that they compete year after year. Last year’s Product of the Year Most Valuable Product is an example of that—the winning company continuously develops and produces new technologies.

 

While the Product of the Year finalists in electrical distribution or plumbing and water management may not seem as cutting-edge as the liquid crystal display or Taxol anticancer drug (also R&D 100 Award winners), they undoubtedly make our buildings a little smarter, our planet a little greener, and our lives a little better.

 

Voting for the Product of the Year program remains open until June 29. I encourage you to select the next hot technology in the building and engineering field. You’ll be selecting the gold, silver, and bronze winner in each category. Then, with your creative juices flowing, go back to your workshop and engineer a better mousetrap. 



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.
Pipe fabrication and IIoT; 2017 Product of the Year finalists
The future of electrical safety; Four keys to RPM success; Picking the right weld fume option
A new approach to the Skills Gap; Community colleges may hold the key for manufacturing; 2017 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
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
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
VFDs improving motion control applications; Powering automation and IIoT wirelessly; Connecting the dots
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

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