Over the next few days, Vanguard will be publishing its Game Changers for the April/May issue. To start off, we’ll like to introduce you to Philippe Dupuis.
Philippe is the President of Precision 3D, a company that he co-founded “with the idea that cold spray repairs could offer tremendous cost saving opportunities to the Canadian Armed Forces.” From the company’s inception, “it has been involved in projects focused on the development of cold spray repair procedures with the Canadian Forces.”
Here is the full interview.
What is your role in your company today?
I currently serve the company as President, managing the day-to-day operations of the company, but I also act as the technical expert on our cold spray repair and additive manufacturing projects. When I have the opportunity, I like to do the repairs at the client’s location myself, to be able to get a feel of how we can fine-tune our processes to make the repair procedures as painless, reliable and efficient as possible for our clients.
What was your aha moment or epiphany that you think will resonate most with our reader, tell us that story?
Trying to sell innovation is a difficult business due to the inherent reticence of people to give up a known solution for an unknown solution, even if the known solution is terrible. I always thought, like many engineers, that the way around this problem is to have a rock-solid presentation regarding the technical aspects of the innovation. My epiphany was finally understanding that you are not selling a technical methodology or a body of knowledge. You are selling yourself, your expertise, and the idea that you can solve the problem, not that the technology will solve the problem. Technical understanding of the technology is just one of the necessary checkmarks you need to make a sale.
Step back and analyze your journey, what is the takeaway you want to give to our audience?
Innovation is hard work. Developing new technologies, or adapting existing technologies to new situations require not only to get past the technical hurdles but also requires convincing people that although you may be proposing a solution which seems too good to be true, it might really be possible to attain. Innovation drives progress, and progress is worth the sweat and tears you need to put in to make it happen.
What is the one thing that has you most fired up today?
Seeing how quickly additive manufacturing is establishing its roots in all sorts of industries, all around the globe. We are at the eve of a significant shift in the way we manage production, logistics and inventory management, all brought about by the culmination of decades of innovation in additive manufacturing, internet of things and automatization.
What is the best advice you received?
Some of the most cliché advice is sometimes the wisest: When you get knocked down, you get back up; Sometimes, the only way to rise is to fall first; and finally, a French quote from Pierre Corneille: “À vaincre sans péril, on triomphe sans gloire”, which (very) loosely translates to “No guts, no glory”!
What is a habit that contributes to your success?
Taking some time every day to refocus on what is truly important in every sphere of our lives, and to mentally discard what is not.
What people or organizations do you believe best embody the innovation mindset?
Elon Musk is a visionary and a model for innovators everywhere. He founded companies which are solving today’s and tomorrow’s problems while most of the world is still focused on how to grow a fossil fuel based economy.
How is your organization changing the game within your industry sector?
Precision 3D is the first Canadian company offering commercial cold spray services to industry directly, independently from equipment sale. We understand that adopting new technologies can be a daunting endeavour, but we partner with our clients to find the best way to introduce cold spray additive manufacturing and repairs in their industry, regardless of whether the client wishes to purchase his own equipment or whether they want Precision 3D to take charge of process development and integration as a service provider. This new business model will help increase the technology adoption rate, as many companies do not necessarily have repair needs which require the full-time use of a cold spray equipment, but could benefit from access to this type of repair process monthly or annually, for example.
What are the biggest impediments to innovation in today’s enterprise?
The biggest impediment to innovation anywhere, in my opinion, is cash flow. It is hard to justify investing in innovation when the return can be only much further down the line, or when a large sum of money is required to jump-start the process. The solution to this is to provide an innovation solution which can generate cost savings as early as possible in the cycle, to justify the investment to upper management and ensure a project will live to see the glory of its full potential.
How has innovation become engrained in your organization’s culture and how is it being optimized?
As a start-up, innovation is the only vector for success in a technology industry. Large companies deal excessively well with day-to-day management and continuing development. To eventually become a large company, start-ups must create new ways of working, selling and developing solutions to differentiate themselves from the crowd. As such innovation, especially disruptive innovation, becomes the lifeblood of successful startups.
What technologies, business models, and trends will drive the biggest changes in your industry over the next two years?
I believe the coming mass-adoption of additive manufacturing, internet of things, automation and other aspects grouped in “Industry 4.0” will shift the manufacturing world back towards local manufacturing. As such, we must understand what the implications of this shift are, and react to these implications as they are unfolding. For example, although manufacturing costs might become similar between the Eastern and Western hemispheres due to the decreasing impact of direct labour costs in a largely automated plant, the maintenance labour cost might be very different. In this case, focusing on the development of cost-effective preventative maintenance solutions will offer a large potential of growth in the near future.
What is your parting piece of advice?
Always strive to innovate. If you don’t, someone else will do it anyways!