|In one of the first applications of 3D printing technology in the electronic media production industry, Mills James has used 3D printing to create game pieces for the Ohio Lottery. The pieces are used in Cash Explosion games when the show goes on location or the Lottery has a promotional event.
Scott Lanum, Vice President of Teleproduction Services, said that over the years Mills James has created several stand-alone electronic games that the Ohio Lottery takes on the road to entertain players at events.
This 10-sided game piece for Ohio Lottery Cash Explosion road show games and promotions was fabricated with 3D printing technology.
Lanum said most of these games are variations of the Cash Explosion TV game show and work with computers and displays. He said Barry Riley, the Ohio Lottery’s Executive Producer of Cash Explosion, wanted a new game that was just as engaging as the electronic models with one condition: it could not rely on electricity.
“We needed to create a physical game with a mechanism to randomly make selections,” Lanum said. “It was determined that we’d need to fabricate a ten-sided baseball-sized die with letters that could spell the word “EXPLOSION,” with one letter on each side of the die. We had a few options to consider as we approached our deadline—we could either build this game piece with traditional wood or foam construction, which would take several days, or take advantage of new 3D printing technologies, which would take hours. As we developed our concepts, 3D printing seemed to be the best and most cost effective way to create this 10-sided piece.”
Mindy Good, a designer with the Visual Effects Group at Mills James, has experience with 3D printing at home, working with an UP! Mini 3D printer with her husband, David. She was quickly drafted into the development team and tasked to create this one-of-a-kind piece.
|How 3D printing works
3D printing goes by several names: additive manufacturing, digital reality and rapid prototyping. And applications for this technology have been making news—ranging from automotive R&D and printing replacement parts for bikes to building entire moon bases.
The object to be printed is first created as a 3D model using computer software similar to Mills James’ motion graphics animation tools. The file is then digitally sliced into thin layers that the printer will “draw” in sequence.
This UP! Mini 3D printer builds dimensional objects by depositing thin plastic filaments in layers.
The 3D printing concept is similar to printing a document on an inkjet printer, but instead of spraying ink to create an image on a flat surface, a 3D printer uses a spool of ABS or PLA plastic filament and builds up the object in layers, one at a time. The printer head moves in two-dimensional space—left, right, forward and backward—while the plate that holds the object moves up and down in the third dimension. ABS and PLA filaments are available in a rainbow of colors. Once created, these pieces can be painted and glued to assemble larger objects.
“We’re only beginning to scratch the surface of indentifying applications for 3D printing as it relates to our production business,” said Lanum. “From printing plastic replacement parts and designing custom camera mounts to transforming a company logo into a physical form which the client can hold in their hand, these are exciting applications, to say the least. 3D printing has become a useful tool at Mills James and a unique approach to solving an increasing number of challenges.”
|In 2013, it’s been exactly 30 years since famed business management author W. Edwards Deming first published Out of the Crisis, one of the most influential business books of all time, credited with launching the entire Continual Process Improvement (CPI) movement that has transformed global business and industry for the last three decades. CPI and its Japanese counterpart, Kaizen (kai meaning “change” and zen meaning “good”) are strategic approaches for developing a culture of continuous improvement in the areas of reliability, processes, costs, resource consumption, quality and productivity.||
For most of our 28-year business history here at Mills James, we’ve watched and learned as many of our largest corporate clients have undertaken strategic process improvement initiatives within their own businesses – using tools including Lean, Six Sigma and the Theory of Constraints. However, we hadn’t applied any of those principles to our own operation at Mills James, thinking most of them simply couldn’t apply to a fast-moving creative services business like ours. We couldn’t have been more wrong.
This is a story about our venture into Continuous Process Improvement, what we’ve learned about ourselves along the way, and why this matters for anybody that works with Mills James – or is about to.
|Interesting journeys often start with interesting relationships – and one of our key account managers, Nancy Barcalow, had some good ties with The OSU Center for Operational Excellence at the Fisher College of Business. The OSU Center for Operational Excellence connects business leaders and educators pursuing competitive advantage through excellent processes across their enterprises.||
The Center for Operational Excellence at the OSU Fisher College of Business
The Center provides its services to member companies – 37 currently – including Cardinal Health, Giant Eagle, Goodyear Tire and Rubber, Huntington National Bank, Nationwide Insurance, Nestle, Owens Corning and Target, among others.
But Barcalow also had another important connection – a client who was actively using the OSU COE’s services to aggressively transform the operational processes in its own IT department. With these connections and preliminary interest within Mills James’ Creative Meetings and Events group, a field trip was arranged to the client’s IT department to see how process improvement principles could be applied within a busy, fast-moving enterprise. “Right away, we saw some simple but powerful principles we could easily apply to our own operation,” said Rodrick Pauley, VP of Brand Experience at Mills James. “That was the ‘proof of concept’ we needed to realize that OSU’s Center for Operational Excellence could help us significantly improve our business operation.”
|“Ultimately, Mills James partnered with the Center for Operational Excellence as a member,” said Barcalow, “which gave us the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with large corporations from a broad range of industries which meet on a quarterly basis to share best practices. Through the Center, we’ve got access to the subject matter experts not from our own industry but experts in efficiency and client service. We’re somewhat unique because Mills James is the only member company that’s in any form of creative services business.”||
Facilitators from The COE spent three days with the Creative Meetings and Events group at Mills James.
Pauley said the journey began with an intensive week of process-oriented discovery. “We wanted to look at our entire creative process through the lens of our clients’ experiences, and we went through some serious introspection to understand our current state, our pain points, and what areas of our process could benefit from improvement.” Pauley said facilitators from the Center for Operational Excellence spent three days at Mills James with the Creative Meetings and Events staff. Peg Pennington, the COE’s Executive Director, led the Value Stream Mapping process, which charted out the entire method for the way meetings and events are produced, including process steps, re-work loops and problem areas. “After three days,” Pauley said, “we came away with a long list of improved outcomes and deliverables that will improve our entire meetings and events operation.”
Pauley emphasized that the operational improvements at Mills James have greater implications than just tweaking some internal company processes. “Everything we did is about a smoother journey for the client,” he said. “We wanted to identify every opportunity to concentrate not only on producing a more consistent, better product for the client, but enhancing the client’s entire experience along the way. We’re grateful to OSU’s Center for Operational Excellence for the opportunity to work with the experts to improve our processes and our workflow in the spirit of continuous improvement.”
For more information on the OSU Center for Operational Excellence at the Fisher College of Business, visit http://fisher.osu.edu/centers/coe.