Companies that look for solutions outside of their given field or narrow band of focus are often rewarded.
UPS has developed new shipping containers made of a composite material called MacroLite, similar to that used in body armor, as well as an active fire suppression system. Tests show that these new containers which weigh less and are more durable than legacy aluminum or polycarbonate-sided containers can confine an internal fire of 1,200 degrees for 4 hours. Bob Brown, a UPS member of the group developing the new container, stated that some of the solutions were found in unusual places, “We had to go outside of aviation into the automobile industry, Navy submarines and space programs to see how they handled fires.” (Aviation Week and Space Technology)
While the containers cost more, the company stated that the added expense will be offset by transportation savings stemming from its reduced weight and by reduced maintenance. What’s equally important is the company’s approach to the project. Members of the development team went outside the walls, or silos, of this company to explore products and practices in other companies and industries. Expanding their vision to the periphery helped this team develop a new product with benefits that should be felt for many years.