Tod Bolsinger, a leadership and innovation expert, defines innovation well by saying, “When experimenting on a new idea, don’t ask ‘Did it work?’ but ‘So what did we learn?’ If you are learning, you are never failing.”
If you spent a day on-site at Oats Overnight, you’d likely hear similar questions being asked across every corner of the business. From marketing to customer service and operations, we’re fortunate that we get to face novel challenges as we grow that require constant out-of-the-box solutions.
But if there’s one person who lives for the challenges of innovation, it’s our head of maintenance and safety, Jose Aparicio. With his experience in the food industry and a background in electrical engineering, Jose is always looking for kinks in our packaging and fulfillment process that can be solved with new or improved machinery.
“My experience is in maintaining equipment and implementing upgrades to the equipment so it makes it easier for our people on the floor. I’m always thinking about making improvements and bringing in equipment that can help.”
In Jose’s line of work, you can’t always find an existing piece of machinery or equipment to solve a given problem. That’s where he steps into the role of inventor –– or innovator.
When You Can’t Find a Fix, Build It Yourself
As we grow, we constantly need to find innovative new ways to increase our production output.
One area of our packaging process that Jose thought was ripe for innovation was the way our operators add protein on the packaging line.
“Right now we’re using a pedal to fill our protein. The operator grabs the bag and brings it to the filler. They step on the pedal and it dumps the protein into the bag. Everything is done manually.”
In Jose’s experience, the less hands-on you can be with the bags, the faster they move through the packaging process. So what did he do?
“I integrated some sensors that see the bag and automatically fills it, which makes it easier on our operators.”
By removing the pedal, operators on the floor have one less step to worry about, which frees them up to help in other areas.
“I brought in a conveyor and added two tables at the end. So the operator puts the bag on the conveyor and the conveyor will carry it underneath the protein filler and there’s a sensor that fills the bag, and out it goes onto the sealer.”
This was not an obvious upgrade, by any means. Jose had to dream up this contraption and find a way to build it. And while he admitted that sometimes his inventions don’t lead to successful results, the combination of the sensor and the conveyor belt led to a marked increase in efficiency.
“The goal that they were asking for was 12,500 bags. I look at the board at 1pm and we’ve already accomplished the goal. By the end of the day, we’ll have exceeded our goal by 4,000 or 5,000 bags.”
At previous stops during his career, Jose has learned to embrace innovation as a means to solve problems that don’t have any obvious solutions.
“I had to make it work. All those machines that I worked on, they have my stamp on them.”
Join Our R&D Team
Our company’s story began around our founder’s kitchen table when he asked himself a simple question, “Can overnight oats be even more convenient than the make-it-yourself version?” What emerged after many rounds of experimentation was our mold-breaking Overnight Oats Shake. This spirit of innovation infuses everything we do, especially our collaboration with customers who help us develop flavors. We’d love to have you on our team and fuel your personal innovation with a nutrient-dense breakfast, too.
If you need to restock your supply, check out some of our new flavors.
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