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XYZ Paints-Marine Division: A Recent Case Study (anonymized at request of client)

The Marine Paints Division of the above company manufacture specialist paints for the decoration and protection of ocean going vessels. These paints need to be applied to prevent the inevitable corrosion and wear and tear caused by sailing the world’s oceans.
The paints are specialized in that they can be applied in damp and humid conditions, in sea spray conditions, in low temperatures and in high temperatures.

The company needed to innovate to stay ahead of the competition and therefore attended an innovation workshop delivered by ourselves in March 2007.

We successfully completed a Scimitar model of the company that was defined in terms of the approaches taken, attributes offered and applications serviced.

The applications were defined as the different parts of the vessel that needed painting e.g cargo hold, hull, engine room, ballast tanks, accommodation decks etc. Therefore almost immediately we gave specific focus to the effort to come up with new ideas-since this specific market targeting offered the promise of very focused niche products focused on specific applications

Secondly we produced a list of attributes e.g. quick to apply, ease of application, safe to use, wide colour range, corrosion resistant, no smell, long lasting. This list helped the company focus on the market need.

Third we produced a list of approaches or the features they can build into their products using their technical capabilities-e.g. painting kits UV cure, paste application, infra red cure, active filler, laminates etc. This allowed us to focus their attempts to innovate on their technical strengths.

We then commenced the idea generation process which initially looks to use the above elements to act as mental triggers for new ideas. As we did so the following idea emerged:

Painting kit  + ease of application  +  external deck

This combination in long hand read: to produce a kit for ease of painting for at sea maintenance that is carried out by inexperienced, unskilled crews(often Filipinos) that maintain the ships appearance and protect against corrosion

This had been a problem for some years for sea going vessels –since the aesthetics of paint is usually only as good as the skill of the painter.

Once this idea had been “born” it was fleshed out by our mind mapping technique that added more innovative features to the concept. For example, as the crews were untrained it was decided to add an internet based training support package to the kit so the on board maintenance crews could be trained while at sea in a flexible and cost effective way

Additionally the concept of maintenance patches was added to the at sea paint maintenance kits-almost like sticking patches these could be added easily and quickly to cover up corrosion patches to give temporary protection until the ship reached port.

Thus the company had devised an innovative practical package that was both new and based on the businesses strengths and expertise.

What lessons can be learned from this case study by other businesses that want and need to innovate?

The first is to have specific market focus by segmenting the market in a defined way so we are dealing with specific needs.

Second the power of Scimitar model to use creativity to come up with new enhanced concepts that outpace the competition

 

Different parts of the ship need different paints and at sea maintenance calls for simple practical systems to ensure continued aesthetics and corrosion resistance

 

Also different ships need different types of paint. Awareness of the different end usages for paints enabled the company to develop niche products that beat the competition.

 

Painting maintenance work needs to be carried out at sea buy untrained crews. Awareness of this marketing need allowed the company to develop a niche painting kit with internet training support.

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