How We Innovate

At Touchstone there has been a large investment in materials characterization equipment, machine shops, microbiological laboratory, foundry, rolling mills, a composite facility and hundreds of pieces of analytical equipment.

R&D is all about commitment

There are a group of core beliefs that have driven Touchstone to its success over the past three and one-half decades. For many years, this was kept at Touchstone – communicated only internally. Here some of the concepts are made public for the first time:

Creativity is driven by the breadth of one’s Experiences…

Touchstone starts about one new project in a wide variety of industries everyday. Much of the company is exposed to the breadth of the incoming problems and technologies involved. Therefore we develop a large toolbox for new ideas for the next new problem.

R&D is all about speed. The faster it goes the less expensive it is…

How do we accomplish high speed R&D?

Everything under one roof…

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As we’ve grown to four buildings, it’s no longer completely accurate to say “under one roof” but it still expresses our belief that the more capabilities that are immediately available, the faster R&D goes. This is not a small issue… The most expensive personnel are the ones we cause to wait for relatively inexpensive activities. This not only prolongs the development cycle but leads to a great deal of inefficiency. A critical path delay in product development testing can result in delay to market – the cost being lost market share and sales. At Touchstone there has been a large investment in materials characterization equipment, machine shops, microbiological laboratory, foundry, rolling mills, a composite facility and hundreds of pieces of analytical equipment. All of this is operated at a low percent utilization, ensuring that our researchers and their customers can get quick access to virtually any facility they need quickly.

Creating a Culture for Speed…

Personnel: Touchstone creates a culture by mixing a diverse team of people from manufacturing with some of the top scientists and engineers in the world in their specific areas. The details of the management of this blend of unique capabilities is a good subject for another web page sometime.In addition, Touchstone makes sure it has people and facilities which can build virtually anything and do it quickly. Touchstone has added metal fabrication, composite fabrication, developed rapid prototype tooling and has a prototype machine shop and prototype electronics shop.

Failure is not an Option…

Sometimes the difference between success and failure is not accepting failure…

Ken Warby, a friend of Touchstone, sat in the water in front of a 3500 horsepower jet engine in a wooden boat he built with his own hands and with his own design getting ready to make an attempt at the world water speed record. He realized he had a 50% probability of living to the other end of the lake – so he asked himself, “How bad do you want it?” Then he set the world record (average speed for one mile each way) at 317.16 mph.

We like to believe we are like this at Touchstone. R&D is all about commitment.

Well, there’s far more to Touchstone’s unique approach to innovation. To learn more call or email us… or, if you would like to dialogue with me on R&D leadership and management, email me directly at innovate@trl.com


Brian E. Joseph
Founder, President, CEO

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