Periodic Reporting for period 2 - COLOMBUS-2 (COmposite repair solutions for aeronautical BUSiness development – Phase 2)
Reporting period: 2017-08-01 to 2018-07-31
Composites are extensively used in many industrial applications, primarily in Transport. A technological sector dealing with composite repair solutions has emerged, now expanding proportionally to the extension of composites applications. GMI is a leading SME in this sector since 25 years, developing equipment for composite manufacturing, maintenance and repair. To ensure excellence, during the last 15 years GMI has invested in several EU co-funded R&D Projects, focusing on the development of innovative composite repair solutions. Today GMI possesses in its portfolio innovations deriving from >15 R&D projects focusing in composite repair: Advanced heating solutions for curing of complicated a/c composite repairs, Repair application equipment, for high performance adhesive bonding and Smart patches enabling SHM of critical a/c components. As there is a rising demand for this type of tools, both from the aeronautical and from other related industries (aolien, petroleum platforms, civil engineering), GMI objective is to improve its commercial position to those markets exploiting its technological excellence. Apart from direct equipment sales, a variety of related services will be additionally developed (training, studies for demanding repairs, consulting, certification support, logistics, application of advanced repairs, participation to R&D projects, etc). To this end 2 phases were specified: Phase 1- Development of a feasibility study, to examine technological, practical and economic viability issues, resulting in a realistic business plan for growth through “COmposite repair solutions for aeronautical BUSiness development COLOMBUS-1”; This phase has already been completed, following a grant won by EU. Phase 2: COLOMBUS-2 is now submitted, including required innovation and support activities for the materialization of prepared GMI plan. A sustainable yearly increase of turnover by 20% is expected for the next years, following implementation of COLOMBUS projects.
Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far
As detailed in COLOMBUS-2 Description of Work (DoW), COLOMBUS-2 presents a balanced structure between “technological” and “market oriented” activities. To this end, there will be five (5) technical WPs in order to perform the development and testing activities of this project, together with four (4) supporting WPs dealing with market augmentation and innovation management, dissemination / communication / exploitation of results and project management. WP1 contains the final definition of equipment, according to the main requirements of aeronautical stakeholders, dealing with the determination of design parameters and constraints. It will be complemented by analysis and design of the equipment and associated components. The repair cases for the demonstration & validation at the end of the development phase will be selected, to prove compliance to industrial objectives. WP2 (ADVANCED), WP3 (CONDUCTOR) and WP4 (OLGA) contain the actual equipment development and subsequent testing activities, together with equipment production preparation and authoring of their operational, technical and technical manuals. WP5 includes the validation of innovative equipment against aeronautical standards, together with preparation / adaptation of procedures to permit their inclusion within aircraft SRMs. Moreover, “peripheral” engineering and logistics services, associated to the three innovative products, will be developed within this Task, through strong interaction with end-users. WP6 contains IPR issues related to patent application and potential production / selling licensing of COLOMBUS innovations, including communication with major aeronautical stakeholders, to ensure that developments fully match their needs. WP7 includes market augmentation and commercial exploitation activities. Moreover, an updated Commercial Exploitation Plan will be developed, separately addressing each COLOMBUS-2 innovation, according to current market conditions, ensuring that developments fully match market needs, while looking for new target-markets, by bridging of technological innovations among different sectors. WP8 deals with dissemination and communication of results, attempting to maximize the interaction with and knowledge transmitted to the scientific and the industrial world, as well as to the general public. Finally, WP9 contains the project management and coordination activities (including selection and supervision of subcontractors), as well as the periodical reporting towards EU.
Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)
According to the results of COLOMBUS-1 and as a high potential in terms of GMI competitiveness and growth has been demonstrated and documented there-in, underpinned by a strategic business plan, COLOMBUS-2 is now prepared and submitted to EU. COLOMBUS-2 takes into consideration all the remarks and guidelines of the feasibility study including business plan of COLOMBUS-1 and contains all the required innovation, demonstration and support activities that need to be performed for the materialization of GMI plan, clearly achievable within the duration of the project: design, demonstration, testing, prototyping, piloting, scaling-up, miniaturization, validation and market replication. According to COLOMBUS-1 results, these activities will foster the development of only three (3) out of the initially four (4) proposed products (namely ADVANCED, CONDUCTOR and OLGA), while enabling increase of their Technology Readiness Level (TRL) and industrial readiness for market introduction. The three (3) new developed composite repair equipment and associated methodologies will further enhance GMI range of products and services offered to the worldwide composite manufacturing and repair industries and will consolidate its position in the global market, which is targeting productivity and equipment for efficient repair, that simultaneously guarantee appropriate repair quality standards (an absolutely critical factor in the aeronautical industry). This range of solutions will focus towards actual composite repair users’ needs, as derived from corresponding stakeholders from all involved areas. The main economic benefit for future GMI product users compared to SoA solutions that will attract them to invest in GMI innovative solutions, will come from their expectations to perform more efficient repairs in a faster manner, while extending the life of their applications, as repairs which would previously be impossible, will now be technically safe (i.e. certifiable) and economically feasible to perform. GMI plans to commercialize the project results addressing both EU and global market through its existing worldwide network of representatives, as it will be restructured and further reinforced by strategic alliances with companies active in sectors identified within COLOMBUS-1. Other options for certain developments (e.g. licensing) will be examined in detail. More specifically, within the frame of WP6, GMI created a “multi-functional development team”, containing both engineers and marketers, in order to ensure full understanding of the aeronautical composite repair market requirements and the related technical problems that need to be solved, thus facilitating tailoring of ADVANCED, CONDUCTOR and OLGA to the end-user’s needs.