Rotork Controls is a world-leading manufacturer of valve actuators, which it supplies to a wide range of industry sectors, including oil and gas, power generation and water treatment. Ever since its founding in 1957, Rotork has enjoyed a well-deserved reputation for innovation and has pioneered many ground-breaking new developments in valve actuators. In 2001 Rotork was awarded the Queen’s Award for Innovation for its IQ actuator.
In an increasingly competitive global market, Rotork recognised the need to maintain its leadership position by generating even more innovative product and service ideas and implementing them faster than before to sustain its competitive advantage. Over a seven-month period, PA worked closely with a core team of Rotork managers and other staff to achieve the objectives of: applying creative tools and techniques, introducing a more innovative culture and generating concepts for at least three new products or services.
The key element of PA’s approach was to work closely with the Rotork core team and other staff to develop their skills in a range of innovation techniques while working on the development of real ideas for new products and services – a ‘learning by doing’ approach. The first activity was to interview the senior management team, as well as a number of sales, marketing and engineering staff, to identify product and service areas that would benefit from additional innovation.
PA then facilitated training sessions in techniques such as brainstorming, ideas clustering, mind mapping, quality function deployment (QFD) and scenario development.
The training sessions were followed by a series of ideas creation workshops. These workshops were very successful in developing literally hundreds of ideas for new products and services, as well as providing practical experience in applying the tools and techniques.
Three Rotork teams, each working closely with the PA team, then focused on a particular product or service area, and analysed and filtered the ideas down to a short list. These shortlisted ideas were subjected to further more detailed analysis by assessing relative costs, benefits and implementation risks.
The opportunities were progressively developed and refined to a point where they could be implemented.
This has provided Rotork with three or four new sales and service offerings, together with a number of new product and technology platforms.
The managers and staff who have been involved are very enthusiastic about the innovation programme and its output. The programme has been very successful, not only in generating tangible new service and product opportunities, but in enhancing the innovation skills within the company and its innovation culture.
There is now a much closer interaction between different departments involved in innovation. Techniques such as brainstorming, QFD and scenario planning are being used routinely and a number of ‘technique owners’ or champions have been trained to foster and support the application of the techniques in the future.
“The primary aim was to enhance our innovation culture – and we are certainly succeeding in this”
Dr Graham Ogden, Rotork R&D Director
To learn more about PA's innovative product development, please contact us now.