Mind power

The innovative Sandvik Ideas Hub is a success. The easy, interactive way to exchange and evolve ideas across functions, sections and countries has already, at the trial stage, proved to be a democratic and inclusive way to boost sustainable business.

The Ideas Hub was established with the goal of gathering 100,000 ideas or innovations by 2030 that will drive sustainability at Sandvik. Although the project has barely left the pilot phase, its playful way of handling serious matters has already inspired devoted teams to work on dozens of new, creative ideas for a more sustainable business.

Projects like this can easily fail if the people involved don’t get any recognition.

“The whole purpose is to find and share good ideas and democratize the responsibility to drive sustainability,” says Mats W. Lundberg, Head of Sustainability at Sandvik and initiator of the project. “This way everyone has an equal opportunity to initiate what can become the unicorns of tomorrow.”

Mats W. Lundberg, Head of Sustainability, Sandvik Group

The hub is as easy to use as any social media platform, and just as easy to access through its smartphone app or the intranet. Anyone can share an idea. Colleagues can give a thumbs up, make comments, develop an idea or even generate spin-offs to new ones. Questions can be asked and challenges set up.

“You can even keep a scoreboard to see who comes up with most creative ideas,” says Lundberg. “Most important though is to make sure good ideas are brought forward and developed. Projects like this can easily fail if the people involved don’t get any recognition.”

Exceeded expectations

Sandvik Coromant in Trondheim was one of three pilots run at the beginning of 2021.

“We used the Ideas Hub challenge to improve our green factory work and to help build a culture around sustainability, similar to the culture we have built around safety first,” says Ingrid Østbye Ramberg, HR Manager and EHS Manager at the site.

Twenty great ideas were posted on the first day.

Before the launch, the hub was given a local profile and made available in Norwegian. The goal was to get at least 80 percent of the employees to visit the hub and to generate ideas. Two challenges were set for a 14-day period: recycling waste and reducing energy usage.

“The outcome exceeded our expectations,” says Kaja M. Flottorp, Manager Machining Operations at Sandvik Coromant and part of the Ideas Hub pilot team. “Twenty great ideas were posted on the first day.”

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In addition to the ideas, both large and small, there were plenty of interactive comments and likes. “Some suggestions are already implemented, like the idea to replace individual trash cans with a centrally located recycling station for a more sustainable waste management,” says Flottorp.

Twenty-five ideas have been selected for further development, and the initiators were given the option of being part of the development team.

An e-bike was awarded for the best idea, which involved using solar collectors to reduce the use of district heating.

Ideas on a global scale

Two other pilots were run at the Mechanical Cutting Division of Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions in Russia and at the global Strategy & Product Management (S&PM) at Seco Tools.

Paulo Janeiro, Seco Tools

“At S&PM we are about 250 people working in several different countries, so this was a good way to make sure the Ideas Hub also works on all levels on a global scale and in different language contexts,” says Paulo Janeiro, Innovation Lead at Seco Tools in Fagersta.

With the pilot phase over, Janeiro has taken on the task of launching the Ideas Hub throughout the Sandvik Group, to help out with the setup for those that want to join.

Natural growth

“We want it to grow naturally and let people warm to the idea of participating,” says Janeiro. “No one will be forced to join, but we believe that every part of the organization would benefit from and enjoy taking part.”

A possible future step is to reach out outside the company group and invite customers, suppliers and educational institutions to contribute and help advance the world through engineering.

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