These days we need to stay ahead in our market. What is new and trendy today may be old and out of vogue tomorrow. People sometimes ask: how do you keep innovating? What is the secret behind these new products…? There is no real secret. Innovation usually starts by looking around, finding smart combinations, and listening to your users.
The inflatable mountain
I was recently travelling in the Middle East with colleagues. We visited a beautiful new Family Entertainment Centre. However, what caught our attention was the enormous inflatable mountain a bit further which we happened to run into. It was meant as an art object but we immediately saw how it could be used as an object to play with. It was similar to the air trampolines that we make, but it had an organic form shaped and looking like a landscape.
When we see anything like this, we immediately start thinking … can we use it in our industry? And we wondered if we saw these organic shapes in other places, too. Could this be the start of a trend? We discussed with our R&D department as soon as we got home. And we came up with interesting ideas. I will keep the outcome a secret for now. But it is clear that we will soon have a great and innovative product.
Innovation and sports
A lot of innovations originate from cross-sector projects. We have made innovative products for gymnastics, ice-skating and shorttrack. Here we worked closely together with top athletes, coaches and associations. It is important to listen carefully to their experiences and feedback. This feedback is valuable to us because the limits of our air and foam-filled products are tested in professional sports.
Shorttrack: free-standing padding
Jeroen Otter, coach of the national shorttrack team, regularly keeps us updated with what the shorttrackers are doing. They practise a sport in which high speeds are achieved. Falling is part of the sport. We often place padding systems against the existing hockey boarding around shorttrack courses. This is a fixed boarding that does not move when a skater hits it. The padding we place is limited by the boarding behind it.
To feel one hundred percent safe
Knowing that there is a hard wall behind the padding may affect the performance of a professional athlete. We wanted to completely remove any unsafe feeling. This resulted in the free-standing padding system. Without any hard boarding at the back, the padding can move with the falling skater. The impact of the crash is optimally absorbed. A system which gives athletes the courage to get the most out of themselves.
From tumble track and tilting cube to covering systems
Innovation is sometimes a matter of clever combinations. The products we design for professional sports are often applicable in leisure and industry. We developed airtight tumble tracks for gymnastics, for example. This processing technology enabled us to realise a customer’s idea for a team building product. The ‘Flipit’ is a spectacular airtight cube that can hold several persons.
We used the same technology for waterproof production a short time later and created revolutionary cover systems for roughage for the agricultural sector. Although based on our gymnastic products, this innovation was awarded the Agribex innovation prize in 2017.
For Sidijk finding innovations is a continuous process. Well yes, we have the ambition to lead the way. But it feels good. Inspiration for innovations is often closer than we think.