A Profile in Customer-Driven Innovation: FARO’s Ticket to Success

February 14, 2013
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With its Vantage laser tracker, manufactured in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, FARO has completed a highly innovative new product development effort, affirming their commitment to continuous innovation and reinventing the field of large-volume 3D measurement along the way.

“The market tells us what they need,” says Director of Customer Experience, Brad Lloyd. “In simplest terms, that forms the basis of our development specification.”

In this case, the bar was high: with applications ranging from the dimensional measurements of aerospace tooling and wind turbine components to high-profile projects such as the Large Hadron Collider, FARO’s end users demand not only portability and durability but ever-increasing accuracy.

“The Vantage pushes the limits of what is possible with available technology,” says FARO’s Director of Product Management for the laser tracker, Ken Steffey. “With this system our engineers have reduced the overall footprint by shrinking several internal functions. In one case we cut the size of a critical subassembly by 60%.”

“This is more than incremental improvement,” adds Lloyd. “The smaller size aside, we’ve integrated stereo cameras for faster target acquisition, incorporated WiFi, and enabled industry-leading accuracy over longer distances.”

Another market-driven improvement is the system’s new levels of ingress protection—the highest in the industry for a full-performance laser tracker—making the system all but impervious to airborne moisture and dust.

Benefits to FARO’s users are numerous. “Working faster and more accurately reduces waste due to rework,” notes FARO’s Supervisor of Public Relations and Events, Greg Richards. “That cuts costs and shortens their own time to market.”

A relentless drive to develop unique offerings that improve customers’ products and processes is a key part of FARO’s value proposition.

“Vantage exemplifies our approach to innovation perfectly,” notes Richards. “We’re committed to making devices that are more powerful, more accurate, easier to use, and easier to get to the job site. Vantage is the latest in that line.”

This dedication to continuous innovation won global recognition in 2011 when Popular Science magazine recognized FARO’s Focus3D system as a “Best New Innovation.” The model has also helped the business expand to approximately 15,000 customers and 30,000 installations worldwide.

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For U.S. manufacturers to successfully compete and grow profitably, it is essential for leaders to be constantly vigilant on improving business value.

“New product, new market, new process, and new customer development efforts are especially important areas to dedicate resources toward,” says DVIRC’s Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, Mark Basla. “Manufacturers need to deploy a systematic approach to making these efforts more innovative, less costly, more productive, and resulting in higher returns.”

Getting started on this journey requires a sense of urgency to take action, the support of a culture that embraces change, and a structured system of checks and balances to advance the ideation process from concept to commercialization with minimal risk and maximum potential for success.

If you are interested in developing innovative products, markets, or customers and you would like to learn about our Innovation Cultural Assessment, contact DVIRC today. This free assessment study provides a nationwide benchmark. Your results will be anonymous, and the feedback could be invaluable.

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