Chilean Miners Saved by Collaboration

We’ve all been watching as the most impressive mine rescue in history took place.  We saw pictures of the narrow capsule that barely fit into a tiny tunnel that carried out the miners, one by one. What made this amazing feat possible? Collaboration. And a particular type of collaboration: a collaborative web of technological innovation, coming from the four corners of the earth. This was not a story of creative genius; it was a story of small ideas, each from a different team, coming together in Chile.

  1. The drill bit that allowed the just-wide-enough tunnel to be dug. It was created by the company Center Rock, Inc., in Berlin, Pennsylvania.
  2. The high-strength cable that held the capsule was from Germany.
  3. The fiber optic communications cable was from Japan.
  4. The camera that sent photos of the miners to the surface was in a Samsung cell phone that had its own projector.
  5. The miners wore special socks, made with a copper fiber, that prevented bacteria from infecting the miners’ feet. Those came from Cupron, Inc., in Richmond, Virginia.

This is the nature of innovation today: it brings together many distinct creative ideas. The biggest problems facing the world today are going to take the same kind of collaborative approach. They’re complex problems and they require many distinct creative moments. More likely than not, some of the critical ideas are already out there somewhere. They key to successfully solving the most challenging problems facing the world today: bring people and ideas together into collaborative webs.

Want to learn more about collaborative webs? Reach my book Group Genius, Chapters 8, 9, and 10.

* Thanks to the WSJ article by Daniel Henninger, October 14, 2010, p. A19, and another article by Matt Moffett on September 30.

9 thoughts on “Chilean Miners Saved by Collaboration

  1. Far be it for an American President to publicly congratulate (let alone even mention) AMERICAN ingenuity and AMERICAN PRIVATE ENTERPRISE for the miracle rescue of the Chilean Miners.

    Here are a few more facts about the rescue of the Chilean miners:

    Schramm Inc. of West Chester, Pennsylvania built the drills and equipment used to reach the trapped miners.

    Center Rock Company, also from Pennsylvania, built the drill bits used to reach the miners.

    UPS, the US shipping company, delivered the 13-ton drilling equipment from Pennsylvania to Chile in less than 48 hours.

    Crews from Layne Christensen Company of Wichita Kansas and its subsidiary Geotec Boyles Bros. worked the drills and machinery to locate and reach the miners and then enlarge the holes to ultimately rescue them.

    Jeff Hart of Denver Colorado was called off his job drilling water wells for the U.S. Army’s forward operating bases in Afghanistan to lead the drilling crew that reached the miners.

    Atlas Copco Construction Mining Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin provided consulting on how to make drilling equipment from different sources work together under differing pressure specifications.

    Aries Central California Video of Fresno California designed the special cameras that were lowered nearly a mile into the ground sending back video of the miners.

    Zephyr Technologies of Annapolis Maryland, made the remote monitors of vital signs that miners wore during their ascent.

    NASA Engineers designed the “Phoenix” capsule that miners would be brought to the surface in, and provided medical consulting, special diets and spandex suits to maintain miners’ blood pressure as they’re brought back to the surface.

    Oh, and Canadian-based Precision Drilling Corp. and South-African company Murray & Roberts, drilled backup rescue shafts in case the American rig failed. Which it didn’t.

    1. Thank you, these are excellent additions.

      A Wall Street Journal op-ed by Daniel Henninger (October 14, 2010, p. A19) argued that the successful rescue was evidence of the power of markets and competition in the U.S. to generate innovation.

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