Safran Fab Lab steps up innovation
It is perhaps difficult to imagine that the Fab Lab, which is home to high-tech equipment, creative materials and day-to-day objects, including a 3D printer, electronic prototype equipment, a 360° immersive space, Lego bricks and foamcore, does in fact spawn some of the Safran services of the future. Be that as it may, it is in the 240 m2 space, located at the Snecma (Safran) site in Montereau-sur-le-Jard, that Group employees are free to dream up and design fresh innovative services intended to make using and maintaining aircraft engines easier.
The Fab Lab (Fabrication Laboratory) – a concept established by MIT1 in the late 1990s – uses digital manufacturing machines, such as vinyl printers and modular electronic platforms, to develop new objects and services in as little time as possible. The Fab Lab is connected to Snecma's Service Innovation Workshop, which was set up in 2012."The Fab Lab has two objectives," states Fabrice Poussière, Fab Lab Director. "Firstly, it enables engineers, or 'makers', who have ideas and are keen to implement them, to come together. Secondly, it provides them with the resources required to bring their ideas to life." The Fab Lab provides a multidisciplinary team, comprising two designers, a developer, a data engineer and a cognitive engineer (ergonomist), to assist the 'makers' with their projects.
From prototyping to marketing
The Fab Lab boasts several rapid prototyping tools, making it possible to invent, for instance, new data acquisition tools and new related services. "We practice a highly pragmatic approach," says Fabrice Poussière. "Any employee can come and see us with an idea for a service and present it to us using a storyboard or Lego. We then give them access to resources so that they can make and test their idea immediately. We also have the means to test the service at each stage of its design, with the inventor. This is a completely new approach within the Group."
However, this only encompasses part of the role played by the Fab Lab. "After the testing has taken place, we help the project leader to develop the marketing side of their service. Lastly, we test the service prototypes with customers," adds Fabrice Poussière.
Big Data-based services
The Fab Lab also makes use of a data sandbox2. This platform is used to retrieve data supplied by Snecma and create applications for future maintenance services, such as real-time aircraft engine wear monitoring. The SFCO2®3 service was the first success for the Service Innovation Workshop which houses the Fab Lab. This service, which was co-designed by Sagem (Safran) and Snecma, and combined their respective expertise in data analysis and engines, is used by airlines to significantly reduce fuel consumption as well as operating and maintenance costs. Since 2012, the Service Innovation Workshop has studied over 80 proposals and led 15 exploration campaigns.
1 MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is considered to be one of the world's best centers for science and technology.
2 Data sandbox: a platform used to manipulate large amounts of data.
3 The SFCO2® service is marketed by Sagem within its Cassiopée / Flight Ops Efficiency range of services and by Snecma as part of its EngineLife® range of services.