Honor Your Inner Inventor

Honor Your Inner Inventor

I love engineering because it’s the merging of art and science – when you’re solving problems with creativity and ingenuity, anything is possible.

That attitude is really important for something I do every year, and that’s help create what customers see (and experience) at Automation Fair.

We call these pedestals. The pedestals:

  • Attract customers to the display
  • Highlight a product, solution or service
  • Show customers how we can solve their challenge
  • Provide a hands-on experience

These pedestals need to capture interest immediately and make connections quickly to bring customers into the space to learn more.

What We Need to Know

Nothing is an accident – everything we do is the result of months of collaboration and brainstorming with commercial engineering, sales, marketing, product managers and the business units.

Video: Michelle Holt and Amanda Eason, senior commercial engineers, Rockwell Automation, help launch the #MeantToInvent contest by demonstrating their pencil launcher, which was built with the contest's materials.

But that doesn’t always eliminate the possibility of making mistakes.

For pedestals to accomplish the goal (again, of bringing people in to learn more) we need to know our audience (what problems they are trying to solve) and the experience they want to have.

One year we considered designing an interactive display that really delivered the message we wanted to share – using a food and beverage industry application that we thought was universal (everyone understands F&B, right?)

Well that year, our primary audience was heavy industries.

These two industries could not be more different. While the result would’ve been a pedestal that was beautifully designed and perfect in its performance, the message wouldn’t have resonated, and our customers wouldn’t have had the experience we had hoped for.

Needless to say, we had to go back to the drawing board for that pedestal. Often times, the design process requires many iterations before the perfect results are achieved.

Humble Beginnings

What does it look like when we begin?

The creative process starts with, literally, a blank piece of paper (or in some cases, an empty panel.)

Then we dream – big. We brainstorm without constraints (like budget). If we could build exactly what we wanted, what would that look like? We model, change, model again until all of our key points come together.

I’d like to say these pedestals arrive in perfect form. But most of the time, team members get to the show floor and we start tweaking and enhancing and changing, right up until customers arrive (and sometimes, even after a few people have visited.)

If I could sum up the invention process, it’s this: we put a creative spin on cool applications.

It’s an automation puzzle that starts in a panel shop and ends live in front of customers. There, you get instant feedback on how you did – and you’re already excited for next year.

It’s an awesome thing that we do – and I know there are creators, inventors and innovators throughout this company and our industry. Let’s hear from you! Join the Meant To Invent competition.

The details for #MeantToInvent are here. The highlights: invent something using a list of materials. Upload a video of your creation. Check back every week to see if you won a prize.

Amanda Eason
Posted August 1, 2017 By Amanda Eason, Senior Commercial Engineer, Rockwell Automation
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