“Designing and building things for the United States military is a notoriously slow-moving and costly endeavor. The time from idea to manufacturing for a new armored personnel carrier or a tank is typically 10 to 20 years.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to change that, and drastically so. It seeks to cut the design-to-production cycle to two to four years.
So how are they going to do it? Crowdsourcing.”
Earlier this month, The New York Times shared the Pentagon’s plans to begin crowdsourcing manufacturing, beginning with the design and development of a new, “amphibious” vehicle for the Marines over the next three years. A web portal will be created and used to gather, share and test ideas. Plus, intermittent cash prizes will speed up the collaboration process.
The Sparks Innovation Center – our own model for crowdsourced, collaborative product development – has generated more than 134 submissions since launching in 2010. It is the point of origin for six Madison Electric signature products and another seven in the production phase. Not to mention it’s an award-winning industry first that has significantly increased both new product sales and the company’s bottom line.
We can’t place enough emphasis on the value on collaborative efforts, such as crowdsourced product development. Although Madison has been considered an electrical product innovator for many years (it actually started with our founder, Earl Atkinson!), our products had become commodities. The Sparks Innovation Center provided a platform to introduce a new type of “specialty” product. Plus, this approach streamlines the product development process – shortening the idea-to-market timeline.
We’ve said before collaboration is key to moving the electrical industry forward. But maybe it has even more potential than we realized. What are your thoughts?
Do you have the next great industry invention? Or, do you know how to make an existing product better? Click here to share your product idea.
Sparks Innovation Center Resources:
Photo credit: United States Marine Corps