Safran Electrical & Power Takes a Step towards Open Innovation
Augmented reality, 3D printing, the Internet of Things and big data are being integrated into industrial sites. This is the beginning of an age of increasingly connected plants. Safran Electrical and Power got involved in this movement by engaging in collaborative innovation with startups. Let's hear from Christophe De March, the Technical and Innovation Director of the EWIS Eurasia Division.
> For several months, Safran Electrical and Power has been getting involved in open innovation. What does that entail?
The challenge is looking for technological components developed by start-ups to introduce innovation into our products and services. We have recently been involved with two startups on patented technologies—DIOTA for augmented reality, and WiN MS for reflectometry—to update the maintenance and monitoring of the state of our wiring. The goal is to be able to offer our customers innovative monitoring and repair solutions. We are currently looking into other potential partnerships. The scope of the collaboration could entail simple agreements to develop technologies, selling shared products and services, or acquisitions.
> What does this type of technical and commercial partnership bring to each party?
Open innovation is a "win-win" strategy. For us, it is a wonderful accelerator with limited risks. And for start-ups, it is a lever for development, allowing them to access new markets and new requirements while having the support of large industrial companies. We help guide the startup's product development to meet our needs and those of our customers.
Today, open innovation ensures that we can rapidly integrate these new digital technologies into our commercial offers and plants. Reflectometry and augmented reality will help us preventively detect any potential flaws in the wiring, enabling us to be proactive on potential breakdowns by precisely locating where they could originate. These technologies will also allow us to improve our delivered products and increase competitiveness and reactivity in our plants.
> How far have you come in launching digital technology in your plants?
Currently, we are deploying operators to help with plugging in the connectors based on these new technologies in order to evaluate their performance and integration into the new production cycle. The ergonomics of these systems and their ability to adapt to workstations are crucial factors that are of utmost concern. Tomorrow, we could be using augmented reality to inspect harness quality. We also envision using a digital ID card that is directly integrated into the harness to track how it ages.Safran is a sponsor of "Hello Tomorrow", a challenge for innovative startups from around the world, held on October 13 & 14, 2016, in Paris.