Health Is Born From Innovation...

Fikirhane
Gül Ertuğ

Gül Ertuğ Direktör - İnovasyon ve Yeni Girişimler

The last 3 months showed us that the nightmares that we thought we would only see in movies are experienced in real life and can affect all geographies simultaneously. Everyone monitors how the world is affected by COVID-19 from the Worldometer website instantly. Financial Times' country-based “flattening the curve” graphs and Twitter updates of our Minister of Health Mr. Fahrettin Koca are on the daily radar of us all.

We are all trying to keep up with this extraordinary situation, which is socially and economically unprecedented and we have not even anticipated. A challenging process for everyone. It is a bit easier to adapt for those who have started to work out the "thinking outside the box" muscle and who have introduced innovative practices into their lives.

In my previous article, although our innovation focus areas and our Corporate Entrepreneurship efforts are completely outside the health sector, I have mentioned how we quickly mobilized as Ford Otosan and how we support our healthcare professionals by including our suppliers in our process, as we are warmed up with the innovation methodology.

In this article, I would like to talk about how creative and productive ideas turn into useful products in a short time such as 3 months in our Fikirhane Platform.

At the beginning of the pandemic period, we launched a mini-campaign called “Innovative ideas within the scope of the fight against Covid-19” in Fikirhane and asked Ford Otosan employees to share their innovative ideas that we can realize in this period. Our colleagues shared a total of 556 ideas with us in this campaign. I can express the extent and importance of this issue as follows: Our “innovative ideas within the scope of the fight against Covid-19” campaign was the most participated campaign on a voluntary basis within just a period of 2 weeks among all the campaigns we have realized since 2016.

The next step was to analyze the ideas sent to our campaign. Following our analysis, a total of 119 ideas from our employees were implemented or applied. Many of these ideas were about supportive measures to return work in Ford Otosan factories and workspace. We created work teams to develop projects based on 13 ideas. We have 15 ideas that are currently under review, if these ideas that we forwarded to the relative experts in our Product Development section pass the value proposition and applicability tests, they will also be projected. We have also recorded and archived the remaining 409 valuable ideas.

To aggregate the ideas in our campaign pool, most were about supporting the healthcare professionals. It was followed by the ideas for citizens over 65 years of age whose movement abilities were restricted to prevent mobility and who need help the most.

A volunteer group of Ford Otosan Corporate Entrepreneurship project team members created a lean product of a mobile social solidarity platform that will be the voice of our 65+ citizens by using our own internal competencies. In this mobile application, our citizens aged 65 and over who cannot leave the house and are in the risk group can leave their needs of support in shopping, pharmacy, and repairs, etc. by audio recordings. Our volunteers on the same platform support those who in need by vocally contacting them to learn how to meet their needs. The app is currently in beta testing. Maybe as the epidemic fades (I am looking forward to it!!), it may be thought that this application will not find a lot of use. But the iOS and Android infrastructure developed by our colleagues in this process will have a greater place in every aspect of our life. And the ability to adapt the Code of Protection of the Personal Data where we take much more care is invaluable to us. This information, which we will use its infrastructure in many other applications by pivoting, has already taken its place in our “Tool Bag”.

Another idea that we put into operation very quickly was the “Hands-Free Door Opening Apparatus” aimed at protecting the hand hygiene of our colleagues working in the production areas and offices by reducing the risk of contamination. While we are going through a period where we will never stop paying attention to social distance and hygiene, we have made these points such as door handles that are touched more than once within the day much safer with a simple and rational idea. Our expert engineers designed an apparatus to open the handles of non-automatic doors in the factory and office with our wrists and arms instead of using hands. Initially, we produced it with 3D printers and tested the usability of the product. Then, with the support of our suppliers, we made it ready for mass production in 5 days using 3D production and fast molding technologies. Our apparatus is now being used in 2,090 doors.

We believe that the star of this process is the GG19 respirator mask design that we revealed on the mask availability issue which occupied Turkey's agenda for a while.

We all worked together with our engineers, our supplier industry (Plascam, Mebant), and Filkim (although not a native automotive industry supplier) who supplied the hepa filter that provides strong biological retention. Our physician Gürsel Gökmen worked with his well-known devout and sincerity in every step of design and production. That is why our mask is named after the initials of his name. We plan to test and implement it on a wider audience within a ramp-up plan in June.

Behind all these projects, innovative, beneficial, and distinctive ideas, there lays the brilliant minds of our colleagues. As Ford Otosan, I am incredibly happy for working together as a big family, being sensible, reasonable, sincere, and with love, completing each other especially in a challenging time; and I am proud of all my colleagues.

I know that from now on we will overcome all kinds of difficulties together. I would like to thank all my colleagues who share their minds, hearts, and love in all circumstances. Hope to embrace together on healthier days...