With Passion to Innovation
To finish off their Innovation Management II course, our third semester MBA students went on a workshop with Dr. Frank J. Maile, Director BU Coatings & Plastics at Schlenk Metallic Pigments GmbH. Guntram Eydner, responsible for new products and innovation, accompanied the class throughout the entire excursion to 3A Composites located in Singen, close to Lake Constance. Passionate from start till the end, he introduced the students not only to the production site but also to the newly developed innovations and the vast product diversity of 3A Composites.
The visit started with a thorough plant tour, during which the students could observe the entire production chain, from plain aluminum to finished facades, including the milling of aluminum into thin foils and the finishing coatings applied to the foil. The tour guides, as well as Mr. Eydner, were prepared for every question and highlighted how different coatings created different effects and longevity, comparing cheaper material to the high-quality facades from 3A Composites.
After the plant tour, Guntram Eydner guided the MBA batch through a presentation about the history, the international presence and the product range offered by the company. For example, one company site is located in Papua New Guinea, where focus is placed on plantations to produce wooded raw material from extremely fast growing trees. Moreover, 3A Composites does not only concentrate on products based on aluminum, but rather also includes other raw materials in its production, like during the sandwich production for instance.
Here, lighter facades can be produced, which represent higher formability and include thermal and acoustical insulation through rear ventilated facade systems. For facades 3A only offers ALUCOBOND® fire proofed materials so that buildings with these facades do not burn down easily.
The newly developed Technicum represents an innovation of the company, where customers can be trained on how to best install newly bought facades as well as receive customized solutions to demanded inquiries. To do so, constant research and testing is being done to create the best solution for the customer. Additionally, the students were introduced to other innovative ideas like digital coating of the facades or an online tool where the customer can not only create an own façade design but also can see how the new design will look on an entire building. As the time for the final active discussion was too scarce, the group continued to discuss during dinner in a close by Italian restaurant.
On the second day, all students participated in Dr. Maile’s Innovation Workshop. In the morning, the students underwent the “gift giving experience” invented by Stanford Design School. This workshop simulates the complete DESIGN THINKING cycle and allows the participants to collect human centric design know-how in a group activity. The innovation day then was continued by a design challenge where the students had to add an innovation to an already existing product. Finally, they had to present their solution to a jury. In order to simulate real business life conditions, the presenting groups were confronted with high complexity, incomplete information and time pressure.
During these two days, the MBA students experienced first-hand innovation applied to a company and its products and how much passion and creativity it takes to implement innovations within a company. Thank you to Guntram Eydner and Frank Maile for such an energized and interesting excursion!