By David Shaw, ERJ staff
Ladoux, France -- According to Didier Miraton, one of Michelin's three GÃ©rants, the company is aiming to bring its innovations to market more quickly.
Speaking at an event designed to promote Michelin's innovation culture, Miraton said the company is establishing teams of people specifically to focus on market needs. He said these teams are multi-disciplinary, bringing together people from engineering, R&D, marketing and finance to solve customer needs on a short time scale.
Miraton said the company launched a project to reduce by half the time to market at the start of 2007. He said about 20 to 30 percent of projects have come in on the reduced timescale since then. By 2010, he said, the company expects to see over 80 percent of projects finished in the new time frames.
Miraton said the impetus for this had been driven by Michelin's Japanese customers. He said they had demanded more rapid turnover of the product offering. â€œThe world was changing, so we needed to increase the rate at which we renewed our offer,â€ he said.
Within each team, any given team member is working on fewer projects and each project is driven more by deadlines than by cost. â€œI do not look at the budgets, I look at the milestones of products and projects over time,â€ said Miraton. 'For R&D the main thrust is the power of innovation and reducing the time to market. We have no consideration on cost, as suchâ€ said Miraton.
He added, â€œwhen you reduce the cycle and go faster, usually you save money that you can reinvestâ€
Miraton said it would be unfair to say Michelin had historically been slow in bringin innovations to market. He said, â€œwe are visionary, but now it is important to deliver innovations more quickly.â€
Miraton added that sometimes it can be challenging to persuade the engineers to really listen to what the customers are saying. He said this requires a close market intimacy and also a special mind-set to be very candid about changes in the market, and to respond to those changes.