Good Lord!! 50 messages since the last mention of Dow economics, good or bad.
Today Chem Sciences heard from the BIG CHEESE as to his vision of the future and R&D... not a pretty sight. Global Analytical Sciences was told about "Lab of the Future"... even grimmer. If Dow profits are up, if they feel new products, specialties, new Platforms are the future income... why all the doom, gloom, and CONTINUED axe swinging. Now that the future directions are getting clearer, the voluntary quits are really picking up - yes - even at Midland and Freeport.
And no 'ker-pow ker-pow, another deadhead dies' crap. The people voting with their feet and finding good jobs in this market are exactly the ones Dow needs on board. If the secret plan is to dump R&D and do it all out in the Businesses, they better make it public pretty quickly, before the balance tips too far.
In year 2003, 10% of Dow's sales were from products less than 5 years old. In 2004, we are on track for 10% of sales from products less than 5 years old. Are these extensions of existing products or truly new products?
Outside of Dow, I can still only visualize a few R&D programs that resulted in new commidity business lines in the last 15 years. Commidity defined for this note as stuff sold in tank truck quantities or larger.
Monsanto's Roundup product lead to significant business involved with enhancing the AG application.
Sasol's coal to gas/chemicals program was significant, but getting closer to 20 years ago.
Coatings and laminates as an industry has shown growth in volumn and quality as a result of good R&D.
These are not the business that Dow is in. Most of Dow's competitors purchases it's technology in process design with resulting lower need for R&D also.
R&D also had a large mission in the 70's 80's developing the data for MSDS information on the large numbers of existing materials. That did support BoundBrook and business assigned R&D technologists. The back log disappered and new materials aren't frequent.
If someone does have some growth areas for R&D please highlite them. Perhaps some college chemistry students would have the opportunity to adjust in a favorable direction. Alpha Chi Sigma would be proud of the input.
Anyway, maybe someone else can respond as R&D is not my field. And better to include all chemical companies, not just Dow.
If your "probably did say" comment reflects how Dow's R&D management thinks, then why look further for the problem?
Make that Chemistry Break-throughs ... sigh ...
I need a new key board, some lessons in typing, some new bi-focals, a new young body, some R&R, some cold brew ... last things first ... sigh ...
You make some good points on the subject thread. I must confess, most of my engineering work for 33 years at Dow (60 to 93) involved process innovation of existing processes. This work was primarily driven by environmental, energy and safety demands. Our work was enhanced by the addition of computers which, for the large part, allowed us the time to study alternatives. Or, as Parkinson said, our work expanded to fill the capacity of the computer. Some great things came out of these studies. However, there were a lot of studies that ended up in the circular file ... just like in research ... as you suggest.
Quite thought provoking, when it comes down to the short strokes, eh?
I probably did say that.
In the golden age of chemistry/products 40's/50's Butadiene for rubber, polystyrene for rubber, glycol for fibre and many other applications were being invented each year. In the early 60's, the Graduate, a popular movie made reference to plastics being the industry of the future. In the last ten years I can only remember one break through in basic chem that UCC was involved in. 20 years ago was the development of low pressure poly.
R&D does have a roll in customer service, and will continue to provide assistance in incremental improvement, but there is just not enough unexplored branches on carbon based molecules and other families to provide the opportunity for discovery.
Instead of quotes from other industries how about your listing the breakthroughs in basic chemistry the last 20 years that are in the area of Dow"s business. Compare to the 40's and 50's.
traveylin, did you really mean to say this, "I do not see many opportunities for large discoveries in the basic science that yeilds new classes of product application."?
If so, then how about:
'Radio has no future.' - Lord Kelvin, 1897
'Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.' - Lord Kelvin
'Everything that can be invented has been invented.- - 1899, Charles Duell, U.S. Office of Patents.
'There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.' - Ken Olson, 1977, Digital Equipment Corporation
Now, I wonder what's wrong with R&D?
Despite what the big cheese said, there is no vision other than optics. Dow management wants it all to look the way they want on the surface. Then they are free to backstab and court-politic behind the scenes. Real results from technology would be too risky----if things go wrong your career can go off track. Besides, noone in Chemical Sciences or analytical has a clue about customers or markets.
This company has a strong fixation on plants and facilities looking pretty, but really doesn't GAS if the productivity is there. You can always cut more folks to fix that. After almost 10 years of this slash and burn stuff, they have created an atmosphere of fear, but instead of it being focused on deliver or else, it is focused on "do what it takes to survive"
Folks within R/D have been selected for docility, unwillingness to challenge the status quo, and ability to work on meaningless, go nowhere projects that take little risk, but maintain the veneer of innovation.
Dow's momentum will continue to come from big moves on the business side. R/D is irrelevant at Dow, and has been since '95.
Just check the patent activity of the former Carbide scientists since the merger. Almost non-existent. Over a billion spent per year, and there is nothing in the pipeline.
R&D died somewhere back in the 1980's, when projects had to align with business units in slow-growth market sectors.
R&D is risky, so the projects have to have big rewards. Standard chemical markets do not have big rewards.
The business guys really weren't "business" guys, in that they really only knew power politics, not markets.