Advanced Design and Manufacturing Expo
By Julie Rice, PhD Candidate, Food Technology @ Clemson University
At the Advanced Design and Manufacturing Conference (ADMexpo), Northeast Ohio’s only comprehensive design and manufacturing event, I was honored to be selected to head an interactive packaging redesign session. This two-day conference was designed to give engineers and executives access to the latest solutions in the product development process. It was jam packed with a myriad of events from various sectors of the field, including educational opportunities and networking events. With over 60 speakers at the event, there was a great deal to be learned in various industries such as robotics, automation, plastics, packaging, and design technology.
Amongst the exciting speakers was JB Straubel, Co-Founder and CTO of Tesla Motors, who spoke on the disruptive shifts that electric vehicles, solar power, and battery energy storage are bringing to the design and manufacturing sector. During his presentation, UBM (the event producer) had a professional artist illustrate Straubel's talking points in true infographic format on a giant notecard for all attendees to see.
45-Minute Packaging Challenge
In the sea of greatness surrounding me at ADMexpo, I hoped that attendees would come away from my 45-minute packaging challenge ready to submit a patent before their plane trip home. My interactive session focused on how to solve problems like a genius (cue JB Straubel) and how to tackle the daunting task of creative thinking and brainstorming using two techniques: SCAMPER and brain writing.
SCAMPER is an acronym for manipulating and improving any current idea into something different, standing for: Substitute something, Combine it with something else, Adapt something to it, Modify or magnify it, Put it to another use, Eliminate something, and Reverse or rearrange it. After breaking into groups, exchanging business cards, and getting acquainted, the teams were asked to use this technique to redesign rice packaging. While a plethora of great ideas were generated in only 10 minutes, my favorites included: a rice back pack displayed vertically for easy grab and go at retail, a boil-in-bag package that will disintegrate when it hits hot water to prevent excess packaging waste, and a rice box divided into different rooms, each containing a serving of rice to help prevent food waste and eliminate the need for measuring cups.
Following this exercise, we dived right into brain writing, a rapid idea generation tool that lends itself to a broad spectrum of ideas while letting everyone in the crowd be heard. Instead of simply collecting idea cards, participants passed their cards to other members of the audience, where they then could jot comments or additions on the cards before passing them along to the next person. After a quick 10 minutes went by, the audience had a stack of notecards as thick as JB Straubel’s lunch money. A few of my favorite cards are featured below.
Thinking back on this session, I am beyond impressed by the ideas generated in such a short period of time. By forcing the audience to think differently and break out of their comfort zones, they were able to come up with many innovative ideas. Maybe the next great idea is right in front of us? I sure hope so, and I will keep scanning the US Patent and Tradmark office website to find out.