Creating Technology Through Design Innovation

By MJ Engineering & Consulting Inc.

MJ Engineering’s CAD software vendor, Computer-Aided Technology Inc. (CATI), knows we do amazing things with their product.

So, they asked company president, Richard Wand, to share his expertise about design innovation on video. The result is a fast-paced vignette where Richard chats about the potential that exists within technology.

The video got us thinking about some other aspects of technology as well…

Technology is in the eye of the beholder

The word technology is often tossed into conversations that deal with anything from smartphones to spaceships, but when it comes to design innovation, technology can be harnessed to complete tasks on a daily basis in new and different ways. For this reason, what technology means can vary for whoever is using it at the time. “If you think about old-school typewriters,” says Wand, “technology was a ribbon that had the ink on the top half and the eraser on the bottom.”

We’ve come a long way since then, but it underlies the point that yesterday’s cutting edge could be today’s ho-hum. And today’s probably could have been yesterday’s impossible. Wand cites, for example, “Vision systems for quality control have different capabilities today than they did a year ago. One of our strengths is being able to review those new technologies, understand how they work, and incorporate them into customer equipment to do things that were unheard of two or three years ago.”

At MJ Engineering, we are not afraid to try new things. However, we approach this potential power with trepidation, so we don’t overstep our bounds. Whether new training classes, new hardware, new robots, or anything that we implement in our business, we tread carefully, because we are responsible for that technology working properly.

But when we take tech by the reigns, some really incredible things can happen. Our company uses design innovation to create cutting-edge hardware and software, advanced FEM evaluations, and combine common off-the-shelf (COTS) materials with new technology for cost-effective solutions. In our hands, design innovation is the magic we use to make things happen. By understanding how—and when—to integrate technology in the equipment and processes we help improve, we keep this powerful magic in check.

Depending on the application, MJ Engineering can use technology to automate a manufacturing process, integrate robotics into a line to work seamlessly with human counterparts, or even add high-resolution optics for part evaluation that no one has seen before. All of this adds up to creating even more technology for other people to use.

The role of design innovation and technology

Of course, this technology doesn’t just show up. It isn’t a case of throwing a computer into the mix to see what happens. There has to be a plan. A design, as the term gives it, to the innovation. And it’s through the application of design innovation that we can make technology do what we want.

To put this in perspective: with the right application of design innovation, we can improve automation equipment to do whatever our clients ask (within reason, of course). And embracing design innovation enables us to stay ahead of the competition in the industry. Design innovation also crosses language and cultural boundaries for international collaboration. Without design innovation, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.

Applying design innovation in today’s market

As technology becomes commonplace—a computer or tablet in every home—the ability to innovate seemingly diminishes. But with design innovation backing technology in the realm of manufacturing and part sorting, there is still much to be discovered. New processes are being created every day that will require design innovation. It’s in this blue-sky environment that MJ Engineering exists—and excels.

Accomplishing this kind of innovation is not a linear path. The direction our design takes can sometimes run back on itself through iterations, split into parallel solutions, and even slam into dead-ends when the technology needed to accomplish the next step hasn’t been invented yet. All this convolution is not for the faint of heart.

Our ability to adapt to new challenges is what makes design innovation so valuable to us. Without this flexibility, the unknown would put us out of business. However, as we face the void where technology has yet to go—and push against it with design innovation—we forge a path for manufacturers to follow, anticipating technology will eventually catch up.