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Research & Development
R & D in MAPNA
Iran’s power plant industry witnessed a period of rapid development from 2002 to 2006. Technological advances in power plant manufacture sector ensured self-sufficiency in the electric power, a key achievement in a strategic industry.
Drawing on this accomplishment, MAPNA set a new vision, i.e. to move beyond its status as an original equipment manufacturer and become a designer of power plant products. The R&D Unit was the brainchild of this decision. The unit was assigned with a task to develop scientific and technological capabilities to push ahead with new products and improve the existing ones.
For MAPNA, it was important to not only be able to offer its own brand products to the market, but also construct power plants and by gaining access to power plant equipment integration capability, position itself among the operators of Large Complex System Integration (LCSI) projects. The first edition of MAPNA Product Roadmap which was drafted in early 2010 aimed to realize the very same strategic goal.
By 2010, MAPNA had developed a potential to process, sum up and solve problems based on customer feedback analysis. Reduction of operation, maintenance, and manufacturing costs and reduction of emissions were on the top of agenda for the R&D unit. With an eye on market demands, MAPNA and its R&D unit carried out projects to increase efficiency and production capacity, design and manufacture water and electricity cogeneration systems, and develop new products.
The second edition of MAPNA Product Roadmap became effective in 2011 with diversification of products as its centerpiece. Rail industry projects received special attention in the new roadmap document.
Portfolio diversification could not take place before certain designing and manufacturing knowhow however. Increasing the efficiency of gas turbines, for example, depended on increasing turbine inlet temperature, which in turn required improvements in cooling, casting, and coatings technologies as well as the technical knowledge on three-dimensional design of blades and the combustion chamber.
Acquisition of necessary technological equipment revealed itself as a critical requirement at this point. Thus, major technological development plans were put on the agenda including: directional solidification, single crystal growth through freezing, as well as manufacturing aging laboratories, fuel and combustion laboratories, and CFD laboratories. MAPNA entered the technological improvement and monitoring phase with implementation of product development and technology improvement projects. Through indigenous R&D and interaction with other enterprises, the group aimed to increase productivity and competitiveness.
From 2014, MAPNA shifted focus towards direction and coordination of long-term projects, consigning short- and middle-term projects to its business units. New missions were defined for the R&D unit to: focus on next-generation technology and products, acquire emerging technological innovations, venture into new scientific and technological discoveries and forecast future possibilities.
The Main Procedures in MAPNA Group's Technology Management System
The existing processes in MAPNA Group’s Technology Management System enable the enterprise to manage research and development projects in consistency with its business strategies and with the objective of optimizing added value. The starting point in development of technology strategy processes is identification of technological needs in order to improve the status quo in line with business strategies. Technological capability assessment requires a complete mapping of technological innovations related to the MAPNA Group’s business activities to identify the impact of technology on competitiveness and to identify MAPNA Group’s level of competitiveness.
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Strategic technological objectives are defined after extracting the results of the analyses described above. The goal is to determine what technology leads to what level of capability and during what time. Decisions concerning MAPNA’s investment in certain technological fields, the desired level of accomplishment and the timing trigger another important strategic decision, i.e., how to achieve a desired level of capability in a certain technological field.
Knowledge Management in MAPNA Group
Major restructurings in 2007 coincided with the establishment of the Research and Development Department and the Mapna Group began to set up R&D units in its subsidiary companies. With the development and approval of the processes and regulations relating to the definition and implementation of research projects, the Mapna Group launched activities related to the dissemination of knowledge such as holding seminars, supporting the publication of books and the presentation of scientific papers at international conferences. In 2009, the Senior Manager agreed with the formation of a knowledge management team and supported the adoption of a technology-based approach to the implementation and creation of a knowledge management cycle based on updated knowledge. The primary purpose of adopting this approach was to collect and share the knowledge and experience derived from the two areas of “finished projects” and “foreign partners”.
Supporting research activities, such as MSc and PhD theses, was placed on the Group’s agenda to motivate the development of a knowledge network both at the Group level and in cooperation with universities. By founding and assuming the responsibility of organizing the annual “Conference on the Thermal Power Industry” in cooperation with various universities, the Mapna Group launched serious efforts at collecting, reviewing and improving research studies in the power generation industry.
Fundamental restructuring of the group in 2007 coincided with establishment of the Research and Development Deputy and setting up R&D units in subsidiary companies. Through the newly-established unit, processes and regulations were developed and finalized for definition and implementation of research projects. MAPNA launched its knowledge-based activities afterwards; holding seminars, supporting publication of books and presenting scientific papers at international conferences. In 2009, the senior managers approved formation of a knowledge management team and supported implementation and creation of a knowledge management cycle based on up-to-date knowledge. The primary goal was to collect and share knowledge and experience derived from two main procedures: completed projects and foreign partners.
Supporting research activities, such as MSc and PhD theses, was part of the Group’s agenda to motivate the development of a knowledge network both at the Group level and in cooperation with universities. In cooperation with various universities, MAPNA organizes the annual “Conference on the Thermal Power Industry”, aimed to collect, review and improve research projects in the power generation industry.
A new approach was introduced in 2010. Following suggestions by the MAPNA Group’s knowledge management team, introduction of novel knowledge management methodologies, analysis of the status of the MAPNA Group’s knowledge management system and consultation with international experts, the technology-based approach gave its position to a strategy-based approach. This basic turn came along with a focus on research and innovation as MAPNA’s new strategic plan, and a renewed emphasis on synergic knowledge-sharing at the group level. The Group developed its “Knowledge Management Strategy Document” in September 2012.
Following ratification of this document and implementation of the knowledge assets mapping methodology, MAPNA Group oriented towards becoming a knowledge-based company. Market and industry, production, and employee knowledge were determined as the three key areas of the Group’s concern. The “Knowledge Management Strategy Document” was drafted based on a detailed study of MAPNA Group’s status quo. Based on this sound perception, the various stages outlined in the document are to be implemented at the group level for the sake of optimal monitoring of the progress and development of knowledge management.
Considering the ultimate goal group-level knowledge-sharing, three subsidiaries of the Group were selected, in addition to the Parent Company itself, as cases for a pilot study aimed to ultimately extend knowledge management to all subsidiaries. In order to share and protect key knowledge assets, a “Knowledge Sharing and Protection Policy” is also being compiled. Meanwhile, special committees have been established to protect intellectual property rights and provide access to knowledge for external users and employees In the first phase of the deployment of the “Knowledge Management Strategy Document”, the MAPNA Group has given priority to implementation of four of the twelve strategic requirements according to the five-year plan. To this end, data on the knowledge of employees, partners, customers and other stakeholders have been collected, developed and shared to be used for fostering innovative ideas.
Since 2008, MAPNA has been able to collect data on employee knowledge by providing the required infrastructure –including adoption of policies aimed to support authoring and translating specialized books relevant to MAPNA activities by employees; publishing articles at top tier academic journals; presenting in-group research in high-status conferences; developing software applications for receiving feedback, experience and knowledge from personnel, as well as hosting expert meetings with clients, revision sessions, and communities of practice.
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