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The challenge consists of three core tasks that require a single integrated solution: (1) the efficient and safe removal of dismantled aircraft seats from the aircraft, (2) the storage of the seats in or near the hangar without them being in the way, and (3) the efficient and safe return of the seats to the aircraft. These tasks are not part of our core business and are a very costly affair. Moreover, this is a problem that affects the whole sector, all over the world.
(1) The efficient and safe removal of aircraft seats from the aircraft
Aircraft seats are manually dismantled per set, with each set consisting of two (30kg) or three (50kg) interconnected seats. Dismantling the seats is not part of the challenge, as there is already a safe and efficient process in place.
The aircraft seats must then be removed from the aircraft, which is currently done in three ways, depending on the situation:
On the ground floor, an employee manually logs each seat.
Moving the seats within the aircraft and transferring them from the aircraft to the hangar floor via the aircraft steps is very labour-intensive. An aircraft contains an average of 270 seats and the entire seat removal process takes about 1,000 man hours per aircraft.
Carrying the chairs down the steps by hand and manoeuvring them through the hangar with a large forklift truck can create dangerous situations.
Due to the height differences between the aircraft doors, we only use one door when emptying the aircraft, which significantly slows down the process.
After the seats are removed from the aircraft, they are initially deposited next to the aircraft on the hangar floor. However, there is little space around the aircraft, which significantly limits freedom of movement for other activities.
(2) Storing the chairs in or near the hangar without them being in the way
Because the seats must stay as close to the aircraft as possible to save time, the seats are currently moved to the side of the hangar one by one, where they are set side by side. The sets of seats cannot be stacked due to their size, although the hangar is high enough to allow for this (approx. 20 metres). Currently, seat storage takes up a lot of scarce space that could be better used for other activities.
There are two possible situations:
In both situations, nothing happens to the seats during storage (e.g. no repairs).
(3) Efficiently and safely returning the seats to the aircraft
The process of reinstalling the seats is very similar to the removal process. Each set of seats is manually carried into the aircraft using a forklift truck, aircraft steps or scaffolding, after which they are put in place and assembled. This is also a very labour-intensive process that can lead to the same potentially dangerous situations as the removal process.
In summary, dealing with aircraft seats is an inefficient, labour-intensive, time-consuming, potentially unsafe and costly process. It is not part of our core business, but it has to be done for every aircraft we work with.
Although the challenge consists of several distinct core tasks, these tasks are interlinked. The proposed solution should therefore make removing the aircraft seats from the aircraft, storing the seats in the hangar and returning the seats to the aircraft more efficient, faster and safer.
Although we are looking for a single integrated solution, we invite any party that can offer a partial solution to apply. We believe that multiple parties from different disciplines can collaborate to achieve an integrated solution.
The solution must meet the following criteria (must haves):
(1) The efficient and safe removal of aircraft seats from the aircraft and (3) The efficient and safe return of the seats to the aircraft
(2) Storing the chairs in or near the hangar without them being in the way
The following criteria would improve the value of the solution, but are not priorities (nice to haves):
The solution will be used for Economy Class seats, not for First Class seats. The solution does not need to take into account any aviation-specific laws and regulations, other than the normally applicable (safety) regulations.
The challenge involves handling of large bulk goods. Companies in the logistics sector (e.g. furniture manufacturers) face similar problems and may have already found a solution.
What are we NOT looking for?
We are looking for an integrated solution that solves the three constituent components of the challenge. We are not looking for parties who can only offer a partial solution and are unable or unwilling to cooperate.
We have previously tried other solutions, such as the aforementioned platform on a large forklift truck. Employees would stand on the platform, causing life-threatening situations. We also experimented with a flatbed that can raise cargo up to the aircraft (similar to loading an aircraft), but this took up too much space around the aircraft.
We are not looking for solutions that require modifying the aircraft, as this would drastically limit their compatibility with existing aircraft and therefore diminish the usefulness of the solution.
We do not believe that a robotic solution will prove suitable. The process of removing aircraft seats from the aircraft, storing them and returning them has not yet been sufficiently crystallised, which can make it overly complicated and probably too costly. We expect a mechanised solution to be a better fit, but would love to be surprised!
What’s in it for you?
A pilot budget of at least €10,000 will be made available for developing and testing the solution, supplemented by a voucher of up to €10,000. After a successful pilot, an appropriate budget for the further development of the solution will be determined in consultation. We estimate that a well-functioning integrated solution can deliver cost savings of €25,000 – €50,000 per aircraft. On average, we service around 100-150 aircraft per year, so there is plenty of room for investing in a sound solution.
The solution provider will be able to test the solution in a one-hangar pilot. We are happy to work with the solution provider or providers by sharing information, location, facilities and manpower. After successful testing, we plan to implement the solution in the other two hangars on our premises. The next step is to also implement the solution in other Fokker Services Group locations (e.g. in Singapore), presenting tremendous opportunities for upscaling.
Moreover, these opportunities are not limited to our company alone. This is a sector-wide problem that exists all over the world. If we have a solution that works, there is a clear path to other companies. With every aircraft we service, new customers come to visit us. If they encounter a good solution, they will likely recommend it to others. We can also help parties approach industry contacts.
How can the SynchUp! challenge program benefit you?
The challenge program
SynchUp! is an initiative of REWIN West-Brabant. Aviolanda, BOM, Port of Moerdijk, municipality Breda and the Provence Noord-Brabant are involved as partners for the challenge program. Together we aim to provide innovative entrepreneurs and startups the possibility to create and develop their idea/product and to put this on the market. This supports the common goal: to accelerate innovations and transitions and strengthening the ecosystem.
Your pitch (max 6 pages / 18 slides)
Describe your concept in as much detail as possible.
Please provide a brief description of what it will take to prototype and/or pilot and what you will need from us to do so.
Provide a brief description of the company and team that plans to work on the pilot.
There are no formal requirements for the pitch (presentations, slide decks & letters are all allowed), apart from the fact that it must be uploaded as a PDF file (A4, landscape or portrait) with a max. size of 30MB. Videos, example websites and so on can be included as links.
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