Category Archives: business

Innovation

For a manufacturing business like Harbec, innovation lies between delivering a value that the customer wants and creating operational value through efficiency and waste reduction. Top line growth for a manufacturing business is generated by accessing and growing new customers. Bottom line growth is enhanced by operating with precision efficiency so that no raw material or natural resource is wasted. Innovation in manufacturing is optimized when the organization can continue to differentiate a value to its customer while doing more with less over time.

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While achieving both ends may seem impossible, that is where innovation comes in. Innovative organizations don’t look at their challenges and cower in fear. Rather, innovative organizations are driven by their values and a conviction for challenging conventional practices.

Harbec has been fortunate to have, since its founding in 1977, a strong discipline in innovation. Harbec has earned a reputation as a precision custom injection molder that delivers innovative solutions for its customers. Getting there has been journey marked by notable advancements in its operations, management systems, and impact on energy and the environment. The visual below presents a sample of the innovations that have taken place at Harbec.

Timeline of Innovation

Innovative organizations have an innate ability to scan the horizon for changes which impact the business environment, and translate their findings into business solutions. Such organizations listen to their customers as they look broadly at shifts in technology, and develop new capabilities which enable them to go beyond with a solution that differentiates their offering to customers. Innovation is all about being able to sense change, and staying two steps ahead. Achieving innovation or becoming “innovative” is not something that happens exclusively with a “Eureka” moment. Although many inventions have resulted from flashes of inspiration from entrepreneurs, the backstory to most examples of invention and innovation are grounded in hard work, discipline, and even failures.

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There is an art and science to innovation, and both disciplines achieve breakthroughs through the determination, grit, and endless pursuit of excellence by those that pursue them. Many people have an image of innovation shaped by flashy marketing and products like the iPhone. The most undervalued aspect of innovation is the disciplined process which yields novel ideas, products, and solutions. Over time, the process of innovation builds a culture, and that becomes the predominant force for business resiliency, competitiveness, and sustainability.

 

Beyond the Checklist: The Vital Role of Management Systems to Business Success

Managing people, data, and information is an essential element of business success. The “plan-do-check-act” process of business planning is a useful and simple way to make sure your management and the business check off on each step of this process. Success in business goes way beyond a checklist however. If fully embraced by the organization, management systems provide the means for objective assessment, personal accountability, and continuous improvement.

For fifteen years Harbec, Inc. has been pursuing and adopting ISO management systems focused on customer-and-value centric business objectives. To date Harbec, Inc. has achieved three ISO certifications including:

  • ISO 9001: Quality
  • ISO 14001: Environmental Management
  • ISO 50001/SEP: Energy Management

Further, Harbec, Inc. is actively pursuing certification for ISO 13485: Medical. The visual below presents these four management systems in the context of customer-and-value centric objectives.

mgt syst

 

Customer-Centric Management Systems

Pursuing ISO certification for quality can be considered a customer-centric business objective. Early on in its business evolution Harbec knew quality was a top value-driver for its customers. Many businesses recognize that having robust management systems that could be certified and validated by reputable third parties is a way to differentiate itself, and to support ongoing and future customer relationships.

Through the process of adopting ISO 9001 companies are able to enhance their quality management program. Management systems like ISO provide the means to identify areas of opportunity and continuously improve your organization’s performance year over year. As such, ISO management systems are a powerful solution to support business planning, management, and accountability.

Value-Centric Management Systems

Harbec is striving to be a sustainable manufacturing company. Sustainable production is a business objective and value for many domestic and global brands, manufacturers, and retailers including Unilever, Wal-Mart, Proctor and Gamble, LEGO, and Nike. These and other businesses are seeking out more sustainable materials and component manufacturers within their supply chain. As they do, they are looking for suppliers that can provide a tangible sustainable value, like carbon neutrality, to support their product stewardship and sustainability goals and targets.

Demonstrating values like carbon-neutrality in transparent, objective, and concrete ways is reinforced with the use of management systems. The evolution of sustainability as a business and product (consumer) value has transitioned away from philosophy toward objective and measurable performance. Companies (and consumers) want to see legitimate claims and supporting data and information that can be reviewed and verified. While a great deal of “greenwashing” continues to persist in the marketplace most major global brands are developing their own or working with existing frameworks for ensuring that their integration and implementation of sustainability into their products can be trusted.

In 2013 Harbec achieved carbon-neutrality. This accomplishment was made possible through years of business planning and the disciplined pursuit of a highly energy efficient business that also adopted on-site renewable energy generation and combined heat and power (CHP) systems that operate on thermal priority. Further, adoption of ISO 50001, an energy management standard, supports the business’ ability to track, monitor, and maintain its energy management system. Pursuit of a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) certification called “Superior Energy Performance (SEP)” takes things a step further and requires the business to establish additional and specific energy reduction targets based upon a baseline year and to have a plan for achieving those targets. Through its adoption and certification of ISO 50001/SEP, Harbec has been able to clearly demonstrate and validate how it is truly a carbon-neutral manufacturing partner.

Don’t Fear the Audit

Whether it is an annual third party audit, or an audit initiated by a customer, the process of an audit can evoke anxiety and fear for many businesses and managers. The audit process is where accountability and truth collide. The business has to address whether it has done all that it can to ensure the management system in question is performing as it should. Ultimately this comes down to people and the management of people. But the audit process is also your true friend. The act of going through an audit allows the business to assess and evaluate how well it is maintaining consistency and holding to the management standard. The audit process allows the business to recalibrate itself so that the common language and framework of the management system become a mutual understanding and ongoing business priority. Knowing what is expected of you, and what to expect from others are two key benefits of implementing and having regular audits of management systems.

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