You might be surprised to learn that silica sand is used in a wide variety of industries: everything from the oil & gas vertical to products in sports & recreation. It’s amazing that sand can be used for arts and crafts or even water filtration. So a company that provides silica and sand based products actually has a wide range of innovation opportunities as they build out their product portfolio.
For that reason, Fairmount Santrol instituted a company-wide innovation program so that employees from anywhere in the business could share ideas for new products, provide incremental improvement suggestions, create process improvement opportunities and transparently articulate and evaluate that value to everyone in the community simultaneously.
In order to manage a 500% increase in the volume of ideas, the Sustainable Development Business Innovation (SDBI) group instituted a unique workflow for each campaign (there are four major campaigns in the ideation community) and each workflow included several levels of review. Here’s an example workflow from the Product Innovation campaign:
- Team Review: Sub teams comprising cross-functional Subject Matter Experts (SME-T) are established.
- Idea Score Screen (ISS): SMEs utilize the ISS for idea reviewing, scoring and relative ranking.
- Stage Gate® Product Development: The top ranked ideas next move to Gate One of the Stage Gate® process for additional screening by the Stage Gate committee before they are approved to move to Stage One, which is the R&D Feasibility Study phase.
Periodically the SDBI presents promising ideas to leadership who help to remove roadblocks. And the results so far are very encouraging: an estimated $5 million in new revenues from product ideas and an estimated $2 million in cost savings in the process efficiency category. And all of this, because existing ideas are being shared and implemented beyond the bounds of their silos.