2/2014

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Jot Automation puts innovation to the test: How to make the most suitable solution every time

With JOT Automation’s long history and current lead position as the global testing provider for mobile electronics, it’s easy to take their almost minuscule production line solution and start twisting the basic idea to fit other markets. Lauri Antila, Vice President of Marketing & Business Development at JOT Automation Ltd eagerly joins in the brief brainstorming. “When the ideas start coming, there’s no stopping. For instance, what if the vending machines offering earphones were to offer more customization, like engraving and miscellaneous other small details, instead of selling a stocked choice? We could probably install our micro production line in a vending machine like that, and assemble the earphones on the spot.” Although self-customizable articles for business trip souvenirs to bring back home instantly hits the spot with yours truly, Antila makes a point that they’re not planning to make the machine, but ideas like that abound freely in JOT.

Focused improvement

However, the general approach to innovation within JOT Automation is a little different from, say, a start-up application developer company’s, but the basic idea of increasing efficiency and eliminating redundancy is the same. JOT has a bi-annual innovation competition on a global basis, which sometimes yields unexpected results that aren’t always tech-savvy. “For instance, we put up a felt-pen administrative project board on a visible place in the workplace, which was a direct result from a competition – nothing electronic about it, and in sight for everyone interested. It’s simple and efficient, and it makes the point that you don’t always have to go high tech in order to improve things.”

Usually, innovation within JOT comes from the need of the customers. After all, JOT makes products to make products – their business is in efficiency and trustworthiness. In the testing phase engineers from JOT talk with the client’s engineers, especially when changes are made, but they suggest and provide, instead of just bouncing ideas. This focus makes JOT’s innovation process and its target stand out. “Our clients are the most innovative companies in the world. The constant flow of new consumer products from the tech giants around the world gives us an amazing first glimpse outside those companies to see where the world is going. In that sense, the wisdom regarding that product is not within us, it’s in the client company. Our innovation sparks from the request of the client – we don’t need to make something completely new to offer our clients, but to make something completely suitable for each client. And that’s the core for us.”

Engineering == communication

Antila gives a theoretical example: a client calls and explains that their new device, which has a dozen network features, is going into production of a million per day. All the features in every device need to be tested as part of the production process. Another normal day in the testing business, that is. Suddenly, there’s a flurry of potentials for JOT’s engineers go through: what features are there, how should they be tested, is the device itself designed so that an automated testing process of a million devices a day can be achieved? “That’s when the engineers communicate, and often our say means a lot to our client – of course, they have their own people who’ve thought about these things, but usually our suggestions make sense and are implemented.”

This means that the usual personnel diversity needed in thinking outside the box isn’t that diverse in JOT. Antila explains that the differences are in the backgrounds and origins of the engineers and the ways they work, but they’re still engineers. He laughs: “We’re an engineering company at heart. It’s been said that working at JOT is an engineer’s dream come true, since everything deals with mechanics, electronics, automation, software – what’s there not to like?”