Anyone who knows me knows I spend a great deal of time on the road working with customers or potential customers from Mexico to Canada and anyone west of Colorado. This face time with customers gives me insight as to the challenges they face on the ground and in their facilities.
Whereas most R&D programs are mostly an internal process, ours is mostly an external process. We work closely with our customers, as they have an abundance of knowledge and expertise — they are the ones handling the product and working with the machines day in and day out.
Customer feedback along with my observations are shared with the engineers at Oliver Manufacturing, and together we are building new machines with new features and functionality that solve real-world challenges. It’s this exchange of information that drives our research and development as we continually challenge our way of thinking and seek to improve what we’re delivering to customers.
R&D is a multifaceted approach. Not only does it serve as the basis to further refine existing machines and develop new equipment, it also aids the decision-making process. It’s about quality and making sure we are meeting customers’ needs. If a product doesn’t do that, it doesn’t make the cut.
Additionally, research includes sample testing for customers. This gives us the ability to determine feasibility, capacity ratings and if more than one machine type is required.
In regards to capacity, we’ve spent significant time determining the true capacity ratings of our machines for specific products. In the past, those ratings were based on a broad product listing, but we are slowly able to give customers a “truer” representation of what can be expected.
Furthermore, R&D reveals opportunities and applications beyond the seed industry. Areas such as recycling/reclamation, and mineral separations have been an ever-increasing market for us. Without R&D, we would have never have considered anything beyond seed separation.
We get some pretty crazy samples sent to us for testing. Quite a few show signs of viability, others not so much, but these samples allow us to put the thinking caps on, and ask, “what if …”