Gilbarco Launched an Innovation Marathon: Innovathon 2016

In 2016, Gilbarco launched its first innovation marathon – Innovathon – across three continents: India, Italy and the United States. Inspired by the FedEx’s innovation conference known as "FedEx Day" and North America's equivalent FedEx event "Ship it," Giovanni Carapelli, VP Global Innovation, shares why they launched this global innovation program.

"Innovation is the vital energy for any organization, the blood of any business. It needs to flow across any level, any team to assure the "hunger" for change is kept alive and recognized with no 'top-down' barriers. The Innovathon events unleash this energy, foster passion and give all the participants a unique opportunity to have an impact in the future of the Company", said Carapelli.

At this year’s inaugural Innovathon event, employees across the engineering organization were given 24 hours to ideate, design and prepare their ideas for demonstration and evaluation. Senior leaders at each location judged the ideas on seven criteria: Business value to GVR, business priority, time-to-market, IP value, development cost, development effort and technical risk.  

During the first Innovathon, GVR Mumbai had 67 ideas emerge. 55 ideas made it to demonstration and at least 15 ideas were deemed as "easy to implement" with immediate impact to GVR's business (either improving the process or creating new products). Ten of those ideas made it to the final round.

Innovathon teams hard at work in Mumbai for the first Innovathon 2016 event.

Innovathon teams hard at work in Mumbai for the first Innovathon 2016 event.

Among others, judges included Giovanni Carapelli; Sanjay Chintalapalli, Director Global Engineering Shared Services; Prasad Vedantham, General Manager SW Development; and Satya Bhattacharya, General Manager Embedded Development. They selected the below five, winning ideas:

  • Software/Cloud Category: "Social CRIND" from Rajat Pandey, Sagar Wankhede and Subodh Yadav
  • Electronics Category: "Call Service Indicator" from Rav Gowda, Nadeem Mulla, Nilesh Gawali
  • Hydraulics Category: "Optical/Magnetic Pulsar + Electronic Flow Meter" from Adway Mardikar, Nataraj Deshpande, Chetan Patel and Durgesh Panchal
  • Software Category: "Quick Regression" from Kaushik Paladugu, Chetan Raskar, Ganesh Chowdary
  • "Special Award" given to Pradeep Singh Munday, Chaitrali More and Shaurav Das for their Intelligent Calibration idea

“Encourage the employees to invest the time for innovation takes the real deal, and it feels so astonishing when you are working with such a company. The 24 hours when all the associates get together and try to Innovate, makes the day surreal!” commented Preet Mehta, GVR Associate, R&D.

In September, a second Innovathon rolled out event in Florence, Italy. The second event generated high engagement across the whole plant in Florence. As in Mumbai, each team had to prepare a "demo" that was evaluated by a team of judges. In Florence, that comprised of Giovanni Carapelli; Michelangelo Chiaramida, Legal Counsel in Florence; Marco Targetti, Global Marketing; Roberta Balli, HR; Maurizio La Rocca, Regional Engineering Director; and Simone Tinacci, Finance. Seventy employees formed 22 teams.

The top-three winning ideas were:

  • 1st Place: "Gli illuminati" Fabrizio Vignolini/Luca del Bolgia for their integrated LED lighting idea for the Italian outdoor payment terminal.
  • 2nd Place: "Firefly" Claudio Tricoli/Alessandro Pocai for their idea on provider user guidance on the floor of the gas station
  • 3rd Place: "PPEU Mobile" Fabio Curtrì/Marco Squarcini/Emilio Fuoco/Giacomo Niccolini for their idea to add a mobile APP to our legacy Point-of-Sale applications for Europe.

"It was really exciting to see how every team was giving a distinguished touch to every idea, and how the ideas were different: hardware prototypes, software projects, visions of new business cases, new tools to improve processes,” said Roberta Balli, Human Resources Director for Western Europe. “And every team approached the work in a unique way!"

The third Innovathon was held in Greensboro, North Carolina, in late September. Sixteen teams ideated and presented 22 ideas. Judges included Giovanni Carapelli; Claudio Edelman, VP CPE; Jeff Bacon, Global Legal/IP Counsel; and Joanna Shepard, HR. They awarded the following ideas based on the same ranking criteria used in the first two Innovathon events:

  • 1st Place: "Integrated touch screen control for M7" Lee Carpenter, Thomas Langford
  • 2nd Place: "Video recognition for gasoline dispenser/proximity sensors" Ayman Zohbi, Nathan Daniel
  • 3rd Place: "Cloud driven power cycle for NA dispensers" Adam Oldham

"The Innovathon was an exciting and challenging experience that allowed for rapid prototyping of ideas. The event was a lot of fun and provided a nice avenue to showcase the creativity and skills of different teams," said Thomas Langford, one of the winners of the first prize in Greensboro's event.