INSIDE CI: Innovative Ideas

Editor Kristi Grahl's monthly roundup.

Every smart company knows that research and development is a crucial part of business. No matter how tight profit margins become, long-term success requires a company to continuously introduce new products. But how do you focus on long-term success when your immediate resources are in short supply? It's easy to see why so many ceramic and glass manufacturers have shifted their R&D focus to projects that promise an immediate payback-time and money in today's economy can seem too precious to spend on mere possibilities, no matter how intriguing those possibilities might be.

Fortunately, as companies' internal resources for R&D have dwindled, universities and national laboratories have stepped in to fill the gap. From energy-related developments such as gasifiers, fuel cells and hydrogen storage, to biomedical and industrial advances, to stronger armor and enhanced nanomaterials, the R&D efforts being pursued by researchers at some of today's top universities and national labs hold significant promise to improve the quality of life for future generations. We've highlighted some of these advances in this issue, and more details on each project can be found on our website at

But even more important than the projects themselves is the fact that these groups have the capabilities to pursue innovative ideas-and that they seek to do so in partnership with manufacturers. Companies that find themselves with limited resources can turn to these experienced researchers to investigate new technologies that might not see immediate commercialization, but that nonetheless hold significant potential for the future. Likewise, universities and national labs can keep themselves grounded by working closely with corporations that have experience in real-world applications and understand the economic drivers that can cause a new product to succeed or fail. By relying on each other's strengths, all of the parties involved in such partnerships can ensure that today's innovative ideas become tomorrow's realities-and that manufacturing in the U.S. remains viable for years to come.

More Smart Business Strategies

Running a successful manufacturing business in today's economy isn't easy. That's why Ceramic Industry provides information on business issues as well as production technologies, both in print and online. For more tips on successful manufacturing, check out our new series of web seminars presented by John Mautner, the founder and senior partner of Advanced Profit Technologies and the Cycle of Success Institute, and a contributing editor to Ceramic Industry through the "Success Strategies" column. Mautner's first seminar, "Continuous Improvement: A Practical Approach to Success," will help you learn how to implement continuous improvement in your company, understand and use the "Management by Standards" system, apply proven quality techniques and gain an understanding of why these techniques are needed, and focus on the customer to ensure lasting success.

The seminar will be held on August 25 at 11 a.m. EDT-don't miss it! Register now at, and check this site often for information on future web seminars that can help you gain a competitive edge.

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