With an eye towards opening up and making innovation practices more operational, Invention Machine has stocked the latest version of Goldfire with new capabilities intended to make the platform a more integral part of everyday development.
Goldfire 5.0 features a new task-based approach and new user interface capabilities designed to walk users through the steps of innovation while allowing them to tailor the business processes to suit their own innovation and development needs. Invention Machine designed the new release in collaboration with key customers, including Whirlpool, Lifetime Brands and Baxter Healthcare, in response to their request to extend innovation practices to gain a competitive edge.
Sustainable innovation is particularly critical in a down economy where companies are having to do more with less, according to Jim Todhunter, Invention Machines' chief technology officer. "Companies have to deliver competitive products and they have to get it right the first time-that's where we come in," Todhunter says. "The new release addresses a task many customers told us they're struggling with. That is how to extend innovation beyond the occasional large project of trying to build a new product or find a new market, but rather make it as part of everyday work."
One of the primary new capabilities of Goldfire setting the stage for so-called "everyday innovation" is the new task-based approach. Leveraging the software's built-in business processes and knowledge bases, Goldfire 5.0 maps out the path to innovation for specific tasks, allowing engineers or researchers to get started without the labor-intensive set up of creating an innovation workflow. The software is configured to show users visually where they are in the process and what the next steps are, accelerating their time to innovation, Todhunter says. The software comes ready to handle 14 pre-defined innovation tasks, but users can configure it to support their own innovation practices or tailor the ones provided to better fit with their organization.
"This is one of the most significant features in terms of enabling people to apply innovation methods," Todhunter says. "It used to require a certain expertise to understand how to apply the software to innovation tasks."
Dave Pierson, senior design engineer at Magnet, was recently able to leverage Goldfire 5.0's task-orientation to help remedy a product defect much more expeditiously. The firm, which collaborates with clients on development initiatives, was facing a Van de Graaff generator-type problem when working on Thred Taper, a machine used to automate fittings. After multiple uses, static electricity was building up in the plastic tape cartridge and causing feeding problems with the threading, according to Pierson. By using Goldfire 5.0, Pierson's team was able to identify the cause and solve the problem the first time around, he explains. "Goldfire's 5.0's `fix a product defect' task allowed me to come up with the least expensive solution and get it right the first time," Pierson says. "It took me through the steps, saving me time and resources. It also saved on cost by identifying the least expensive solution without having to use a trial and error method."
In addition to the new task orientation, Goldfire 5.0 features a desktop portal designed to provide instant access to what's happening in the company's innovation world. The new dynamic widget sits on the desktop and details tasks and projects, pushing information out to the community. The software's new metrics capabilities provides management with a visual picture of what innovation activities are going on within the company-from what tasks are being performed to what assets are being used.
Along with the Goldfire 5.0 announcement, Invention Machine said that existing users will get unlimited access to online computer-based training courses, including the new 5.0 courseware, at no additional cost.