Dispensing Mechanism for a Powdered Material in a High Humid Environment

Published Feb-10-10

A method to prevent powdered dishwasher detergent from clumping together in a new a kind of dishwasher.

A Major Appliance Manufacturer

The Story:

Dispensing Mechanism for a Powdered Material in a High Humid Environment The traditional corporate model of only innovating from within is starting to look a bit dated. An ever increasing number of companies including major global players such as Kraft, Hewlett Packard and Procter and Gamble are adopting the open innovation model to solve their problems and develop new products.

Confronted with competition at every turn, and an insatiable consumer appetite for new products companies are increasingly going outside of their own R&D departments to innovate – and with great success. It’s a complete contrast to the “not invented here” ethos that has pervaded much of the corporate world.

The Value of Open Innovation Knowledge Brokers

Many are finding that open innovation knowledge brokers such as IdeaConnection with its global networks of inventors, PhDs and geniuses can solve their problems and find solutions quickly. Open innovation does not have to be a replacement for internal R&D rather it can be used to reinforce a company’s research strengths. Or it can provide a global R&D source for enterprises that do not have their own research capabilities.

Sometimes the solution a company requires is already out there, but the seeker does not know where to look, and this is where an open innovation broker is ideally placed to help.

Dishwasher Detergent Challenge

A major appliance manufacturer was looking for a dry dishwashing detergent that didn’t clump together. It was designing and developing a dishwasher that would be able to hold a week’s worth of dry powder. It didn’t want to use liquid detergents believing them to be inferior.

The company approached an online knowledge broker and posted a challenge which simply read: “dispensing mechanism for a powdered material in a high humid environment.” No more details were provided. After a short while the ideas came flooding in; an array of well thought out potential solutions. Interestingly none were from the appliance industry.

The solution seeker studied the submissions and the winning proposal came from a company that makes powdered candy dispensers – the kind that can be found in shopping malls and other public places.

The major appliance manufacturer hadn’t considered looking at this industry but there were parallels between what it wanted and what was already being applied to candy machines.

The confectionary company’s products function in high humid environments and have to maintain hygienic conditions for long periods of time. The seeker would not have known about this had it not turned to a knowledge broker.


Confidentially is a big issue of course and many corporations do not want the world or indeed their competitors to know that they have a problem that requires a solution. That is why the problems are posted anonymously and the broker works with the seeker to keep details secret.

None of the solvers of the powdered detergent problem knew who they were working for or indeed the industry that the challenge came from.

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