Where do new ideas come from? When fresh concepts seem to be dried out, a new perspective can be often found beyond your immediate group, and sometimes outside of your company's walls.
OEM Off-Highway is part of Cygnus Business Media, which publishes dozens of magazines and websites in a wide range of industries. I could throw a tractor-shaped stress ball from my cube and hit editors and publishers focused on law enforcement, vending machines, soybean processors and more.
Whether it's about the business of publishing, journalism, marketing or writing articles about the business of mobile equipment design, OEM's staff is often talking with the other magazines and gleaning ideas that, when adapted for our readers and advertisers, will work for our publication.
For the business of engineering and design, bringing in an outside firm to help get a project over a hurdle or assist with new product development can, in some cases, be the decision that carries a concept from being run-of-the-mill up to being declared an award-winner or a sales leader.
While producing a sales-leader is the ultimate goal, "award-winning" certainly doesn't hurt. Programs such as the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) AE50 awards "represent the best and the brightest developed around the globe for the agricultural, food, and biological systems industries." A panel of judges chose the winners from products first introduced to the marketplace during the previous year. Elsewhere, World Ag Expo highlights 10 new products during its annual show. For '08, AgRobotics LLC was featured with its AutoProbe soil sampling machine (see cover story, page 18).
Then there are the design awards given to new concepts, which can often help influence future projects. With more than 10,000 international entries in its disciplines "red dot award: product design", "red dot award: communication design", and "red dot award: design concept" the red dot design award (which prefers lower-case words) is one of the leading and largest design competitions worldwide. Since 1955 the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen in Essen, Germany, has annually selected and honoured design quality.
One of the winners for the 2007/2008 program is designer Haishan Deng, whose concept (shown) offers the future of dump trucks and exemplifies the value of looking at things from a different perspective. Deng took his inspiration from the "structure and movement of an animal," he says. "Over the century, though trucks have got bigger and stronger, they're largely still based on a design we all first encountered in the sand pit as children."