From marketing to manufacturing, companies are using the term innovation to encompass anything from new ways of working to different techniques and alternate approaches. However, ultimately it’s about thinking differently.
For manufacturing, architecture and design businesses to stand out, they are striving to be as genuinely innovative as possible – this means focusing on radical change and transformative thinking. With sustainable practice climbing the business agenda, it’s vital that the industry, as a whole, takes a step back to rethink any negative impact of existing products and processes on the supply chain, the market, and ultimately, our planet.
For Interface, genuine innovation includes spearheading sustainable ways of working. This doesn’t just mean changing the way we do things, but dramatically rethinking ideas so our practices evolve to surpass original expectations. This involves having the freedom to challenge long held perceptions and break traditions that are held as the norm. When it comes to sustainability, by looking at completely new ways of working with a restorative vision in mind, major breakthroughs can be made.
However, this cannot be achieved by any one company in isolation. When implementing an idea – no matter how far-fetched – sourcing support from like-minded partners and peers can make it much more effective.
Genuine innovation can have significant impact on a company’s bottom line – it brings both opportunities and risk – and therefore it can be a daunting and intimidating proposition for anyone involved. However, by working together, businesses up and down the supply chain can pool resources, share vital insight and varied expertise to address a wide range of manufacturing and supply chain challenges, with minimised risk.
These collaborations can come in the form of research bodies and partner organisations, or forward-thinking companies that share the same common goal, whatever that may be. Sometimes unlikely partnerships can be the most effective when finding revolutionary solutions that can transform the way materials are produced and consumed.
“The answer is to look at how new ideas and creations affect the broader industry, rather than a single business”
Through partnership, here at Interface, we’ve been able to achieve not only a series of firsts, but breakthrough developments for the whole supply chain.
PVB (poly-vinyl-butyral), for example, is a laminate material found in car windscreen glass that prevents it from shattering, and is a common waste element from the automotive industry. Shark Solutions is a company that specialises in recycling the product, and worked with us to look into the potential use for the flooring industry.
This has resulted in the development of a solution that extracts PVB from glass, refines it into dispersion, and can act as a precoat to fix yarn to the backing compound when manufacturing Interface flooring.
This innovative thinking means a shortened supply chain by eliminating the need to source virgin latex for the company’s operation. In addition, waste to landfill has been minimised for the automotive sector – an achievement for both industries.
So how do we bring back focus within the industry towards genuine innovation? The answer is to look at how new ideas and creations affect the broader industry, rather than a single business.
It requires thinking beyond isolated roles, and instead needs to look at how an idea or invention can shape the future for all. For example, how or where the next generation of manufacturers will source raw materials, or how designers can re-use waste in unusual and inspiring ways.
By understanding the wider impact, we can collaborate to share others’ knowledge and experience and push the boundaries even further to make radical change.
The end result is real innovation that can transform and revolutionise the existing industrial landscape, and will help us on our journey to achieving a common goal for all – a more sustainable future.
Miriam Turner, Assistant Vice President Open Innovation and Product Sustainability at Interface