Management of innovation & technology in the process industries
What is this thing called the process industries?
The cluster of industries generally called the “process industries” spans multiple industrial sectors, constitutes a substantial part of the entire manufacturing industry and is generally considered to include Petrochemicals and Chemicals, Food and Beverages, Mining and Metals, Mineral and Materials, generic Pharmaceuticals, Pulp and Paper, Steel and Utilities. We define the family of process industries as follows:
The process industries are a part of all manufacturing industries, using raw materials (ingredients) to manufacture non-assembled products in an indirect transformational production process often dependent on time. The material flow in production plants is often of a divergent v-type, and the unit processes are connected in a more or less continuous flow pattern.
However, it must initially be recognized that this class of industries is not homogeneous; rather, it consists of a number of industry sectors that are more or less similar in their individual characteristics.
Acknowledging the unique conditions for innovation in the process industries
The nature of the production systems in the process industries significantly differs from that of other manufacturing industries; however, different sectors within the process industries share a large number of similar characteristics. Moreover, the intimate couplings between raw materials, production systems and products constitute unique “contextual innovation conditions” that must be taken much more into account in companies’ product and process innovation and methodology use. Furthermore, the laboratory and pilot plant experimental environment and the interdependencies of product and process innovation constitute “inherent innovation conditions” that underscore the shared idiosyncrasies of innovation in this “family” of industries.
Management of Innovation & Technology in the process industries
It is not to be said that prior knowledge in management of R&D and innovation in general does not apply to the process industries, but rather that best practice and methods from other domains may very well be useful for the family of process industries as well. However, the idiosyncrasies of process companies are likely to influence the conduct of R&D and innovation and call for adapted methodologies, tools and an actionable and improved knowledge base for management of innovation and technology in the process industries. As a consequence, management tools, methodologies and best practices from other manufacturing industries are of less interest for use in the process industries, while tools and methodologies adapted to the process-industrial cluster of industries are likely to be applicable to many sectors of the process industries.
At certain times it is advisable to take a fresh look at the Management of Corporate Innovation; not so much of an audit approach, but more a reassessment of potentials for company improvements. Such an internal benchmarking has also proved to be a very useful instrument for comparing and learning from different companies, divisions or business units within a larger corporation. But it is not advisable to start any major improvement activities in the area of MOT until target areas have been identified and potentials for improvements have been assessed. This internal Benchmarking of Strategic Innovation Management capabilities is something that is often best carried out in collaboration with an outside expert. The use of an outside expert will ensure that the work is carried out objectively and sometimes, if needed, in an internally confidential manner.
If you are not familiar with the vast knowledge base in this area and how to access it, or if you are a bit unsure how to proceed, we can help you to start this journey. If, on the other hand, you are already actively working with MOT in your company but would like to sharpen you R&D management team and upgrade your performance in the area of Management of Innovation and Technology, we could help you to select important areas and find a balanced approach in the implementation of improvements. In both cases a diagnosis from an outside expert in Innovation Management is often an eye-opener for possible performance improvements. We have strong expertise in this area and we can help you to assess your present capabilities in this area, as well as designing a programme that will improve your Innovation Management performance. You will find more about our working practices under the heading Working with blinab.
blinab on The corporate MOT diagnostics
Sometimes it is not possible to give advice on a complex matter before relevant facts have been compiled and analysed. When for example a formal “second opinion” needs to be sought, it is usually necessary to collect a substantial amount of internal or external information. This is one of the more conventional kinds of services provided by consulting organisations.