Employee Think Tank spurs innovation in product development

13/03/15

A County Durham electronics business is encouraging its staff to bring the magic touch to its product development and manufacturing operations with the launch of its employee innovation hub.

The Peterlee-based Seaward Group has set up a special “Magic Room”, to help inspire its teams to come forward with new ideas on productivity and quality improvements.

Seaward is a market leading manufacturer of electronic test and measurement instruments used in a wide variety of electrical, industrial, medical and energy sector applications. The products incorporate advanced technology components and assemblies that must meet critical performance standards.

To meet this need, innovation lies at the centre of the company’s product development and manufacturing principles – an approach that has helped the business to compete successfully in international markets, often against much bigger competitors.

In Seaward’s experience, innovation rarely relies on a single ‘eureka’ moment. Instead it involves an approach that encourages a coming together of ideas across the full breadth of the business, making sure that the improvements work and that they can be delivered profitably.

In the latest example of this approach, the company has introduced new measures to encourage staff to come forward with their ideas on new ways of working.

Ian West, Seaward’s manufacturing director, explains: “Our new Magic Room is intended to provide a fun and interactive way of involving our manufacturing staff directly in our production processes.

“We’ve always encouraged people to come forward with new ideas and the room is intended to provide a creative environment where teams can come together, discuss things and make their suggestions.

“Although we’ve tried to bring a bit of fun into things, the underlying message is a serious one. Our production staff know the products and manufacturing process better than anyone and they are in the best position to generate new ideas to improve how we do things.”

In Seaward’s experience, employee involvement has already successfully improved quality and increased productivity, with often the simplest suggestions having the most impact.

For example, previous production line ideas have included changes to manufacturing area layouts, making tools more accessible and removing unnecessary processing stages.

Ian West says: “There is no doubt that the inventive and creative thoughts of our staff can make a real difference to the business – and we hope our new Magic Room will inspire them to even greater things.”

Chris Olsen, business manager at NRG comments: “Employee personality and culture fit are integral components of the strategy behind identifying the right talent at Seaward.”

“At NRG our approach to recruitment necessitates a true understanding of our client’s values and a genuine appreciation of our candidate’s qualities.  This ensures that clients find the right staff to complement teams.”

“By recognising the individualities, personalities and characteristics of each client we are able to identify the best client/candidate match. Whilst candidate skill set is important it’s necessary to appreciate the business and the personalities that will thrive. With Seaward, the innovative nature of product development offers a unique opportunity for the right type of talent – a place to flourish in a pioneering environment.”