and methodologies to find efficient and cost effective solutions to customer's needs. The company's engineering teams use the principles of disruptive engineering to drive down product manufacturing costs and to identify innovative concepts in all areas of the business.
Disruptive innovation, a term coined by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, describes a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors. This concept has been demonstrated time and time again with products such as mobile phones, computers and even motorcars, when the development of the Ford Model T changed transportation for the masses by being affordable.
The subject of disruptive innovation has been the focus of a number of seminars and presentations in recent months by the space science and oil and gas sectors where SME's have been set the challenge of evaluating and implementing disruptive innovation principles. With today's market drivers of saving costs, customers will change brand or supplier more readily than in the past, as long as the product values remain intact. Disruptive innovation therefore – or in the case of Altec, disruptive engineering – will continue to play a significant role in customer retention.
Altec director, Paul Lackenby explains: “At the heart of any disruptive innovation is a strong engineering team and engineers from all areas of Altec's business are applying the methodology of disruptive engineering within the company's CNC Precision Machining and Special Purpose Equipment divisions, to the benefit of our customers.”
He continues: “Disruptive engineering need not necessarily mean re-inventing what we do, and when we look closely at our existing internal processes, we have actually been implementing these principles for many years. There are a number of ideologies used by the Altec team to ensure that all opportunities for disruptive engineering have been considered and fully evaluated. These include ensuring that all areas of expertise within the company, from sales, design, manufacturing and management are involved in the process to discuss ideas which will lead to the optimum solution to the task at hand.
“Free thinking amongst engineers, even if it is outside of their core discipline, can bring a new perspective to problem solving and this is actively encouraged by Altec.”
Added to this is an ongoing programme of collaboration and team building ensuring that all engineering disciplines within the company remain engaged, and that they each recognise the unique contribution that they bring to the disruptive engineering process.
According to Mr Lackenby, the vision for Altec is continued excellence in design, manufacture, value for money and customer service. The outcome of some of the recent disruptive engineering projects at Altec has seen the company transfer production of certain CNC machined parts within its group of companies, to exactly match the component with the specialities, capabilities and capacity of the Group's site. Altec Engineering's Bowburn facility specialises in low volume, high complexity CNC machining, and the design and build of special purpose equipment. Medium volume production, product re-engineering and supply chain management has been located at Group company Sigma Technologies, whilst high volume CNC machining is carried out at Group company, Ronco Engineering. The Group also uses disruption innovation in the form of 3D printing of conceptual models to aid evaluation of product and component design in conjunction with customers and prior to CNC machining production parts.
This strategy, developed from the disruptive engineering process, has resulted in real benefits of reduced costs and shorter leadtimes for Altec's customers who operate across a diverse range of industry sectors including: oil and gas, aerospace, space science, defence, mining, construction vehicles and renewables.