Innovation is fast becoming a top strategic priority for a majority of companies today. While the notion that innovation drives prosperity is not new, it’s important to remember that innovation should not be considered an end in itself but rather an ongoing process that adds continuous value.
“The country can innovate until the cows come home, but if it can’t translate that innovation into something substantial – something that adds to the economic output of the United States – it does little for America,” Ralph Gomory, a research professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University and President Emeritus of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, recently wrote in a piece published by both Manufacturing News and the Huffington Post.
That is why innovation in manufacturing is so important.
“Innovation in manufacturing is what turns ideas into things that change the world,” Gomory, who previously served as senior VP for science and technology at IBM, wrote. “There are ideas, and then innovation in the manufacturing process steadily improves them. Much of the progress and the competition in manufacturing is based on incremental innovation whose cumulative effect is enormous.”
Gomory gives examples of how much of the progress in manufacturing’s past has been based on incremental innovation with an enormous cumulative effect: it took 150 years of steady improvement for the steam engine to evolve to become a machine powerful enough to create the industrial revolution; and it took 60 years of continuous miniaturization of the transistor to produce a pocket-sized cell phone with enormous computing power.
Looking ahead, it isn’t unreasonable to expect the greatest innovations of the 21st century will be incremental in nature and help address human needs rather than those that solely create the most profit. To meet those needs, however, more importance must be placed on manufacturing, which Gomory describes as “the great innovation engine that turns ideas into reality.”
At DeMarco Industrial Vacuum Corporation, innovation has always been one of our core values and it continues to be the foundation of our vacuum technology.