Innovation: “Like measuring the speed of a fastball, only it’s sewage.”

By October 29, 2013Uncategorized

You’ve heard it before; too many times. “This is an old problem – we’ve seen it many times before – we know how to deal with it – there’s nothing left to innovate.”  If that attitude doesn’t make your skin crawl, it damn well should.  The primary job of all knowledge workers – ALL – is to relentlessly pursue innovation.  Doing more with less is the fundamental source, the only source, of all human progress, and…

Innovation is the one and only way to do more with less.

sewerSo you’re surrounded by smart people and smart competitors, all of whom are really, really good at solving your customers’ problems? With simpler solutions at a lower price?  Welcome to the club! You are no different than than the rest of us.

And there is simply no earthly reason to think that you can’t be innovative enough to rock your world.  Next time you think there just isn’t any way to innovate in your own business, consider FLO-DAR.

The problem addressed here is sweage treatment.  That’s right, a problem that’s been around since humans first started living together in groups.  More specifically, the problem is figuring out how much “stuff” is headed toward the modern sewage treatment plant.  Being prepared to deal with 1,000 gallons per minute when there’s only 100 gallons coming through is an extremely expensive waste of money.  Being prepared to deal with 1,000 gallons per minute when there’s 10,000 gallons coming through is another matter entirely.  (And not too pleasant to think about!)

So do you want to be the one who sticks a hand into the pipe to guess at how fast the “stuff” is all flowing?  Or how deep that river of “stuff” actually is?

Or is there another way to tackle this age-old problem? Maybe one that uses an old familiar technology that was developed to do something totally different?  Like RADAR.  Here’s how it was described to me:

“Like measuring the speed of a fastball, only it’s sewage.”

“The sensor combines advanced Digital Doppler Radar velocity sensing technology with ultrasonic pulse echo depth sensing to remotely measure open channel flow.”  In other words, using this innovation I can easily calculate exactly how much “stuff” is coming through that sewer pipe and exactly when it’ll all hit the treatment plant.  The operators can thus be well prepared in advance to deal with whatever volume is there without wasting precious resources.

So yet another old, old, nasty, expensive, potentially disastrous public health problem succumbs to innovation.  I submit to you that there is no problem – old or new, large or small – that cannot be addressed by innovation.  That, plus it’s your job to use your imagination and hard work to innovate.

Now stop whining and go innovate something.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Frank Hurtte says:

    A great human interest story. I read it then it dawned on me. Innovation speaks to everyone, only a few take the time to listen.

    Todd Youngblood listens… then insists that others listen too. Thanks.