Ford Motor Company has opened a do-it-yourself technology and fabrication shop in Michigan. The idea behind the shop is to give employees a playground for innovation, an area where creative tendencies can find inspiration and lead to breakthroughs in the market. To get their current workforce interested in trying out the facility, they are offering a free three month membership to what is fittingly called, TechShop.
Yes, it isn't always going to be free, but at just $99/ month, it offers access to some pretty cutting-edge equipment. Many of Ford's engineers and designers have already taken advantage of the shop after its opening in late December.
Ford safety electronics manager, Steven Schondorf comments on TechShop:
“The process of experimenting at TechShop by taking an idea, visualizing what it should be and translating it to a real object helps me to be more creative in my work on a regular basis.”
Ford is hoping these off the clock experiments will help facilitate a creative spirit and lead to innovations in the workplace. It isn't just for fun, it's about supporting and nurturing creativity in the broader community.
James Marleau, expert in door technology and functionality at Ford speaks about TechShop:
“We have a very holistic approach when we look at doors, we look at everything as an entire system that has to work together to give drivers the quality they expect and the results they need.”
“TechShop is very people-friendly, and everyone wants to collaborate,”
“Everyone brings their own piece of knowledge to the table. When I’m there, I might be attacking something from one direction, but someone else will suggest another way, which can give me a new way of looking at a problem.”
John Jaranson works in the research lab at Ford looking for ideas on how to trim the bulk from existing vehicles seating designs and still retain comfort. He says the TechShop has really stimulated his creativity, and was oner of the first to sign up.
John Jaranson comments on TechShop:
“With this kind of design, I don’t know any other way I would have been able to make this without TechShop,”
“I think the creative community in the area is growing, when I come here, there are always people working. You can see small communities in TechShop growing. It’s exactly the kind of thing I want to be a part of.”
We should be seeing some great ideas coming out of this shop in the months to come. It will be exciting to see how fast technology can leave the shop and make it on to the production floor. Of course they will have to address patent rights and logistical things like that, but I think it's a great idea and a huge step for facilitating innovation.