Product and Process Innovation

The management approach and its components

Evaluation of the management approach


Product and process technology plays a key role in making Covia a partner of choice for our customers. Our R&D, Operations Optimization, and Sustainable Development Teams, in partnership with our employees, create innovative, industry-leading solutions. We focus our innovation efforts on developing differentiated products and technologies that offer a strong value proposition. Aligned with our commitment to Sustainable Development, we aim to Do Good. Do Well. Act Responsibly. by reducing dust, emissions, water, energy, fuel, and waste from our operations. We aim to Deliver on Promise to ensure safer product handling, conserve resources, and improve operating efficiency.


Product and process innovation is critical to meeting ever-evolving market needs as well as retaining market leadership. Our R&D team investigates value-added products that improve dust control, decrease chemical and water use, and increase up-time and productivity. We serve a wide variety of end markets for our Industrial customers and translate customer insights into solutions, helping make us a preferred supplier. 

Covia’s operations distribute a quarterly Continuous Improvement Process (CIP) project update report. We define continuous improvement and innovation broadly as a novel match between a need and a solution that creates value. The novelty may be in the need or the solution. During the brainstorming or ideation process each contributor must define how value creation relates to their workplace, team, or individual application. This value proposition may be focused on safer operating conditions, cost reduction, more efficient production processes, new product development, existing product improvement, environmental impact mitigation, improved stakeholder engagement, etc. By crowdsourcing and distributing ideas in this manner, we have successfully created an idea generation and cross pollination process that supplies a robust innovation pipeline and builds bridges across silos. Further, this process provides new and different value-added solutions to many of Covia’s operational needs across the entire enterprise.

In addition to our R&D team and CIP project update reports, we collect ideas from a variety of internal and external stakeholders in IdeaScale®—an Open Innovation Management platform available to employees to submit and collaborate on new ideas. Business leaders meet regularly to evaluate ideas for potential return on investment for our customers, stakeholders, and business. If selected, ideas move through a five-step Stage Gate process, which determines feasibility, investigates patent and trade secret protections, validates the desired impact, and leads to commercialization of value-added products or process innovations.

Our Bright Site Program follows an accelerated Stage Gate process to identify and design solutions that improve our existing operations. These solutions range from small projects executed quickly by the facility, to large capital investments that must go through our formal Stage Gate process. As part of our Bright Site Program, we regularly deploy our Operations Optimization team to conduct onsite, 12-week innovation boot camps, which cover the following work streams:

  • Productivity
  • Lean Operations
  • Maintenance
  • Energy


In 2018, Covia once again demonstrated our Sustainable Development mindset—Do Good. Do Well. Act Responsibly.— by innovating in ways that improve the value and environmental impacts of our products and processes to better serve our customers.

Our 2018 product and process innovations include:

  • Investing in lower-cost, resin-coated proppants that maintain robust performance for proppant flowback resistance
  • Commercializing our DSTTM dust suppression technology. DST™ treated frac and industrial sands are developed to help customers comply with the new OSHA respirable silica standard. This innovative sand product has a transparent coating that can reduce worker exposure to respirable crystalline silica when used properly.
  • Reducing free phenol in our resole and novolac resins
  • Installing dust suppression hoppers as part of ongoing collaborative research projects with National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
  • Replacing diesel engines with electric motors where feasible, which reduces Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and maintenance, rental, and energy costs
  • Optimizing dryers and pumps to reduce natural gas and electricity use
  • Installing a wet screening process that significantly reduces dust emissions and energy consumption

We collected over 190 ideas through IdeaScale® in 2018. Of these ideas, 23 progressed from the ideation to the feasibility-testing phase, 15 made it to the development stage, and 11 made it through to the success stage.



Patent Applications Filed


Patents Issued





Bright Site Programs Completed


Covia Recognized as a Leading Innovator

IdeaScale®, the leading crowdsourcing and innovation software provider, announced the final winners of its Innovation Management Awards Competition and recognized Covia as the winner in the category of Best Innovation Process. This competition category recognizes the IdeaScale® community that detailed the most creative and impressive workflow for progressing ideas from the point of inspiration to execution. In this case, Covia was able to demonstrate the effective elevation of ideas by applying their own proprietary algorithm to the process.

“What I find most impressive about Covia,” said Rob Hoehn, CEO and Co-Founder of IdeaScale® “was how organized their program is. It’s companies like Covia that will repeatedly be able to deliver results, because they bring the experts in when necessary and just ensure that ideas aren’t left behind in the meantime.” Since program launch, Covia has gathered ideas that generate value in both top-line revenue growth and savings from operational efficiency.

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In 2019, our largest sand mine, located in Wedron, IL, will host our Operations Optimization team for the Bright Site Program. We will also roll out IdeaScale® and the Stage Gate process enterprise-wide.