Product and process innovation is a strategic target for the group, as it is a key factor in its development and essential to building competitive edge and maintaining it over time.
Analyses conducted on current industrial trends in advanced countries reveal structural changes that increasingly entail the outsourcing of lower valued added components in industrial production.
Highly effective institutional surveys, such as the EU survey, identify precise technological gaps as the reason for delays in certain areas like Europe and associate high economic development potential with strategic technological lines, as a necessary aspect for sustainability and improved quality of life.
The annual IUS for 2014 and the European Commission have once again highlighted how national systems that are balanced with respect to their various aspects – research and development inputs, business innovation activities and innovation outputs – not only remain top innovation leaders but are closely correlated with the performance of the economy.
This leads to certain guidelines for the revision of the industrial system in which, beginning with the restrictions created by the high cost of energy and aging infrastructures, growth engines are identified in the technologies that encourage the sustainable development of economies, such as the achievement of renewable energy targets in 2020, energy resource storage and redistribution systems, smart grids, new materials and hybrid and electric means of transport.
Therefore, the definition of the priority technologies on which to base Europe’s industrial redevelopment has led the European Commission to prepare a Framework for the Horizon 2020 project. The result of a development in the FP7, it identifies Key Enabling Technologies (KET), which correspond with the technological domains that represent key elements in promoting innovation and growth and that, accordingly, are placed at the centre of initiatives aimed at boosting the competitiveness of European industry.
KETs make it possible to innovate processes, goods and services in all economic sectors and, accordingly, are systemic as they tend to converge and integrate.
The MAG group’s focus on the potential associated with KETs has motivated it to identify innovative solutions that have been either developed or researched in the scope of what are essentially new product development projects (see Development of new products).
The group’s recent advancements in the H20 Framework are summarised below.
|Nanotechnology||Summary and effective manufacturing of nanomaterials, their components and systems||Development of structurally advanced “3D printing” materials (carbon microtubules)|
|Advanced materials||Technology relating to functional, multifunctional and structural materials||Development of DAMP (Diffused Anti Vibration Multilayer Panels)|
|Technology relating to sustainable industry materials||Development of surface treatment technology to replace chrome and cadmium (Nitrex)|
|“Challenge” technology||Transition to a reliable, sustainable, competitive energy system||Development of technology to implement and control primary and secondary flight controls and landing gear based on the use of electromechanical components (see National and international platforms)|
|To create an intelligent, environmentally-friendly||integrated transport system|
Applications are developed through a network of partnerships with aerospace engineering departments at universities (the Polytechnic University of Turin, the Polytechnic University of Milan, the Pisa University and the Rome 3 University) and research bodies (Centre Recherche Industriel du Quebec).
Research and development applied to products fall under a few main lines divided into the helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft segments.
Landing gear and the related hydraulic, electromechanical and electrohydraulic retraction and actuator systems, hydraulic and electromechanical flight controls (primary and secondary commands) and, eventually, wire flight control.
Control and energy damping systems (advanced sound and vibration reduction solutions), infotainment and cabin comfort control.
With respect to the qualification of innovation for transport and logistic development, now that one of the five pillars of the third industrial revolution has been defined, the introduction of very light jets marked a groundbreaking change, winning Eclipse Aerospace Inc. the Collier Trophy of the US National Aeronautic Association (NAA).
In the wake of the creation of the E500 with the previous Eclipse Aviation Corp., the E550 dual reactor is the most sophisticated version of the innovative personal jet concept, combining energy efficiency, avionics and extremely advanced technology with a low purchase cost.
These elements, which gave rise to the category of very light jets in 2006/2007, gave a new group of users access to this type of private air transport and reinvented the concept of general aviation.
More in general, all the solutions aimed at improving energy efficiency and attaining sustainable mobility models directly or indirectly combine technological excellence with environmental sustainability in which the concept of sustainable innovation lies.
National and international platforms
The main projects in which the group is actively involved include those developed through technological clusters, like the aerospace districts in the Piedmont and Lombardy regions organised by the EU.
The Lombardy Aerospace District. Fondo Europeo di Sviluppo Regionale (FESR) Lombardia (European fund for Lombardy regional development). Industrial research and experimental development project for a multi-stage electromechanical actuator.
Piedmont Aerospace District. Fondo Europeo di Sviluppo Regionale (FESR) Piemonte (European fund for Piedmont regional development). Research project for innovative solutions to be applied to flight controls and actuators for “All Electric Aircraft” (AEA) with the aim of improving the performance of aircraft and reducing fuel consumption – hybrid flight control systems (HFCS). Partner – the Polytechnic University of Turin.
MESAP (Mechatronic and advanced production systems) District.
Research project for innovative solutions for electro-hydrostatic circuits with applications in aerospace, avionics and robotics – Electro Hydrostatic Actuation for Industrial Automation and Vibration Control (EHA InAViCo).
Partner – the Polytechnic University of Turin.
Industria 2015. Development project for advanced electromechanical retraction actuator systems for helicopter landing gear.Partner – University of Pisa – Department of Aerospace Engineering.
Using, managing and protecting intellectual property
Very recently, new product development, which the group primarily conducts under contractual arrangements with public or private customers, underwent a structural change both in the sense that now increasingly requires significant investments from the group and that is now allows for greater autonomy, rewarding originality and innovation in the proposal of solutions and applications.
This development was concurrent with growth in in-house engineering expertise and the gaining of experience in certain types of products and technologies.
Similarly, initiatives have been launched with a focus on subsequent steps in the vetting of grants for innovation that the group contributes, which can constitute intellectual property at various levels, from ordinary know-how to stronger copyrights that are legally protected.
The aim is to institutionalise intellectual property (IP) management activities (i.e., patent portfolio management, control of patent filing procedures, maintaining approved patents, protecting group know-how and monitoring technological competitors’ patent activities) and the related processes and consolidate them over time.
To this end, during the past two years, the group has conducted, with increasing frequency, precedent research and the parent has set up an R&D COMMITTEE FOR PRODUCTS AND TECHNOLOGIES to:
periodically monitor the road map of technological development and provide updates on road map progress;
create a shared database of group companies’ know-how, including financial know-how;
lay the foundation for the optimisation of IP resources, including financial resources.
The table below provides data summarising initiatives performed in the past three years.
|Feasibility analysis and precedent research||3||2||–|
|International patent applications||1||–||–|
|Supplementary type certificates (major changes)||3||3||4|