Usiminas launches Platform dedicated to Innovation
Usiminas has presented this innovation tool at an event held at its headquarters in Belo Horizonte, broadcasted to all its industrial plants. The “InovaAí” platform was launched to bring a new concept to all sectors of the company and support teams in the process of change, advancement, debate and improvements involving this subject. The idea is to bring together in a single place, under a specific management, actions to stimulate innovation in the company.
Usiminas Innovation and Information Technology director, César Bueno, points out that the company has always had innovation as one of the most recognized differentials in its products. “For almost 50 years we have had the largest research and development center in Latin America and we have a tradition of technology applied to steel. The challenge at this time is to change a still existing vision that innovation has to be linked to Product or that it is something very specific or complicated. Today, we can see many examples of how innovation may occur even in small things, without big investments, but with great results”, he explains.
At the first stage of the platform, specific projects such as the implementation of internal “Challenges” will be developed, seeking to concentrate specific efforts in the solution of practical problems brought by different areas. This work may also involve startups or other external consulting. Usiminas has also been training employees from different areas of the company as “Ambassadors”, so that they can act as promoters and consultants of the teams for this subject.
Usiminas has also restructured an initiative to stimulate ideas and suggestions from employees for another coming project. The “Ideas” program will stimulate individual or work group collaborators to make suggestions for improvements in processes, spaces and methodology that are now applied in routines. The proposal is that the idealizers can work on implementing the suggested changes and receive suggestions from other people. At the end of each year, suggestions with the most positive feedback will be rewarded at a specific event.
“In addition to these projects, we set up an extensive calendar with internal events, including integration of people from outside the team, and external so that Usiminas can interact and know what is being developed by other companies, universities and startups” , says Éricka Menegaz, Area Corporate Manager. Only in 2019 more than 20 events have already been scheduled. The company also plans to create a co-working space in its headquarters, which will allow teams to meet in a dedicated and informal environment which facilitates exchange between different areas and between external people that may contribute to the process.
After winning a series of challenges and once again presenting positive financial and operational results, Usiminas chose innovation as one of the main focuses for its management in 2019. Since 2017, when it set up the Digital Committee, the company has been concentrating efforts around this subject that is now starting to be unfolded differently by all corporate levels.
Still at the end of 2018, the company expanded the scope of operations of so called IT Board and created a department exclusively focused on the management of innovation within the structure. The main goal, according to César Bueno, is to empower Usiminas as a company that is also innovative and can anticipate new demands of society, either in products or services, increasingly digital and demanding.
PHOTO: Mark Lund, guest lecturer, Babson College professor and founder of Academic Tours Brazil (first left), Ericka Megenaz and Usiminas Innovation Management Team during “InovaAÍ” platform launch event.