How Parker Hannifin Innovates at Unprecedented Speed

parker hannifin copper-tubing-factorySopheon customer Parker Hannifin® has deep roots in innovation. Back in the 1930s, Parker Appliance (now Parker Hannifin) launched copper tubing for hydraulic installation to market before anyone else, and was also the first to use tubing for the instrumentation of power plants. 1 Fast forward to October 2014 when Parker proudly opened the doors at its Donald E. Washkewicz Polymer Innovation Center, and Parker's Corporate Vice President of Technology and Innovation, Craig Maxwell, saw the realization of his dream for a dedicated space for R&D and pet projects. 2 And in 2016, the Sporlan Division of Parker Hannifin was awarded two Innovation Awards at the AHR Expo in the "Cooling" and "Tools & Instruments" categories. 3

Laying the Innovation Foundation

While the company has a history of innovation, it's not easy launching new, profitable products consistently, especially with an enterprise as large as Parker. As Maxwell pointed out to Forbes magazine, "You wonder why so many big companies just cease to exist ... It has something to do with taking the hill versus holding the hill. And when you're mature and successful, you're on top of the hill. And so now it becomes a defensive kind of posture."

To keep moving forward, seeking innovation, reinvention, collaboration, and combining technologies, Parker launched Winovation 5, the company's name for its product development process. Each division uses Winovation to develop new-to-the-world or new-to-the-market products that will help the company meet its organic growth requirements. parker-hannifin-quote

Parker chose Sopheon's Accolade as its innovation process and product portfolio management solution. Accolade is helping Parker to:

  • Better identify product winners earlier in the development cycle
  • Accelerate product development cycles by providing team members with a common platform
  • Generate greater revenues and profits from the company's investments in product innovation

According to Maxwell, "Through the Winovation initiative and our use of Accolade, we're able to measure our ability to grow – top-line growth and bottom line profitability." Within three years of implementing the solution, Parker Hannifin had achieved organic growth well beyond its projections, while the value of its product portfolio had increased by more than 500%.

Progressing Forward

With their eye on the future, Parker is continuing to promote cross-functional collaboration and leverage Winovation to test, create, modify, and launch innovative initiatives. An exoskeleton, or powered orthosis, helping people with spinal-cord injuries and other types of lower-body paralysis to walk, received FDA approval and is now available to consumers. 5 Parker Hannifin CEO Tom Williams said about the Indego robotic exoskeleton, “In a relatively short amount of time, we have taken what was a prototype device and readied it for full commercial launch.”

In the popular Forbes article, "Innovation Factory: How Parker Hannifin Pumps Out Breakthrough Products", Bill Aulet, the managing director of MIT's entrepreneurship center said, "For big companies to thrive and succeed, they need to be innovative – they all know it, but nobody has really cracked the code yet ... That's why this whole thing with Parker Hannifin is so interesting, because you never would have thought that a $13 billion conservative company, in an old-line business, would be the one to solve it."

Learn more about Parker Hannifin's innovation habits:

Watch: Walking Once More, Thanks to a Robot


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2 Innovation Factory: How Parker Hannifin Pumps Out Breakthrough Products, Forbes Magazine, May 2015 issue


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