SMART AIRCRAFT SURVEILLANCE SOLUTIONS
As a provider of high-tech solutions in the field of aircraft surveillance systems FTI invests continuously in the further improvement of our product range. Our mission statement is to be different from our competitors by keeping the technical leadership and providing most benefits to our customers. That’s why we are continuously looking for new technologies and solutions. Doing this we do not only focus on technology – we also have innovative business models in mind, which could help our customers to sustainably improve their processes and efficiency. In this context we identified the combination of products and services as an interesting approach to enrich our existing portfolio which is currently more focussed on products. Although FTI already offers consulting services (e.g. for the design of video systems in aircrafts) the idea of having bundles of tangible products and intangible software-based services appears to be promising for achieving our business goals.
Being a partner of the PSYMBIOSYS project (funded by the European Commission) gives us the opportunity to become familiar with the concept of Product-System bundles as well as the impacts on the methods and tools which we are currently applying for product development. Even though we are used to work in a rather regulated environment which comes along with the need to define and establish stable processes and documentation standards, the design and development of Product-Services requires a significant revision of the existing design and implementation environment. Doing this the cooperation with academic partners, solution providers and experts in the field of Product-Services dramatically decreases risks and costs which we have to face while going our way towards servitisation of our products range. Major contributions we received in our use case came from BIBA, FINCONS Group, Fraunhofer IAO and InterOP-VLab.
To enrich our products by services new and innovative tools and methods are required all of which have to be closely integrated to work smoothly together to support the development of Product-Service combinations in a most efficient way. Being efficient is one of the most important requirements to minimise costs, risk and time to market. Without any doubt these key performance indicators are of main importance for any company to keep their market position. For design and development of Product-Services another variety of methods and tools is analysed concerning their use for ideation, for decision support and evaluation of Product-Services during the first part of their lifecycle. Although this requires significant efforts FTI believes in the concept of Product-Services and consider them to become an important portion in our customer offer.
The 5 PSYMBIOSYS tussles
On the way from traditional products towards Product-Service combinations various obstacles have to be overcome. Each of them goes along with significant risks and requires therefore thorough investigations which have to be done individually for each application context. Within PSYMBIOSYS 5 categories of such problem areas have been identified. They are called tussles (reflecting a kind of conflict situation) and will be briefly addressed in the following tussles.
Product-Service: Traditional products as well as services requires different competencies, methods and tools to design, implement and control all processes efficiently during the lifecycle of products and/or services. It is important to have them all closely integrated to avoid stand-alone solutions which do not address both perspectives (products and services) equally. For FTI this means, that existing product design and implementation methods and toolchains have to be enriched by new aspects reflecting the service arena.
Design-Manufacturing: Again and again issues related to products are detected during manufacturing or within the operation phase. If not detected early enough (during design or manufacturing) these findings often result in recalls which are costly and compromising. Due to the strong regulations of the aviation sector all airborne components of the surveillance system are proofed to be robust and safe and won’t be touched. The non-flying parts are also designed and manufactured along those standards. To ensure same level of reliability and robustness for services FTI is very interested in approaches to establish feedback loops from development/manufacturing or operation back to the early design phases.
Real-Digital: Today waterfall-driven models are still very common during the lifecycle of products or product services. This often results in various views on a system all of which are usually very different. As a consequence, inconsistencies can occur between real products or product services and their digital representation. This kind of inconsistency could have lots of negative impacts - most of them related to services which are used by our customers. Thus FTI requires new approaches and tools that ensure consistency between real and digital aspects of products as well as services throughout their lifecycle.
Knowledge-Sentiment: The design and development of a successful system which is accepted by the market requires deep knowledge within the technical domain. In addition, all the customer needs have to be addressed properly during the design and implementation of product-services. Thus it is crucial to have methods and tools that help us to bring both kinds of knowledge together while enabling our designers and developers to exploit this knowledge for their work.
Business-Innovation: Last but not least the business perspective needs to be addressed. An immanent risk in the context of the introduction of Product-Services results from a cannibalism effect which could occur so that revenues given by an established product decreases when a new product-service combination becomes available as a competitor. In this context FTI is looking for suitable approaches that help us bringing together our existing product-driven business models with the service-driven counterparts. Our goal as a service/solution provider is to be as efficient and profitable as possible while achieving most benefit for our customers.
As depicted for the 5 tussles, conversion from a mainly product-driven solution provider towards a provider of Product-Services will cause considerable efforts – mainly for refurbishment of existing methods and tools. For the FTI case these efforts are expected to be even higher than for most other companies due to the fact that any development activities underlie strict process regulations and very specific duties concerning documentation. Thus one of the most challenging tasks will be the integration of new methods and tools with their already existing counterparts towards an integrated environment which enables us to develop reliable Product-Services for our customers in the aviation market.
Another challenging aspect of the FTI case results from the involvement of a large number of heterogeneous stakeholders all of which accompanies the evolvement from an idea to the Product-Service as it is finally offered at the market. As any kind of design and development activity is done based on requirements such requirements have to be specified for services as well. Due to the fact that a service-lifecycle tends to be much shorter than a product lifecycle, innovative approaches (methods and tools) are required here to keep “both worlds” in line with each other: On the one hand the physical part must provide relevant data and information to enable services to be intelligent and valuable. On the other hand, the service requirements concerning data and information must be considered during the design, development and maintenance of the physical Product-Service part.
Although not fully technical, another aspect has to be mentioned in this context: to come up with innovative business models which provides most benefits to our customers while ensuring economical sustainability for FTI, new tools are required all of which can be used for decision support to anticipate the impacts and effect of a new Product-Service from the business perspective. Ideally, these tools are able to provide a first high level estimation about relevant parameters – such as Return on Investments, revenues to be expected, etc. - based on very simple performance indicators. Last but not least another set of indicators should be available to measure the transformation towards a Product-Service provider from the very beginning (pure product development), the “warm-up”-phase where some first tools and methods have been established until all of the tools and methods provided by PSYMBIOSYS are fully integrated and in use at FTI.