Fri, 25/01/2019 - 07:25
Current Issue 34
Aviation’s Innovation Engine
Remaining dedicated to its overriding customer-first mentality, BSB Aviation has continued to optimise the aerospace industry in the seven years since its inception
Writer: Jonathan Dyble
Project Manager: Thomas Arnold
More than a century on since the world’s first commercial flight took off in 1914, it is safe to say that almost every aspect of air travel has advanced substantially.
In 1935, for example, the first Qantas flight along the Kangaroo Route (from the UK to Australia) was a 12 day-journey that entailed many multiple stops along the way. Today, however, the same airline runs a non-stop flight between the two countries, taking just 17 hours to complete.
Technology has evolved exponentially, driven by visionaries in the manufacturing sector and wider aerospace industry that continue to seek optimal success in both efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Take aircraft cabins themselves. Customers are now able to access a range of services, from in-flight entertainment to on-board internet connectivity solutions, while other progressive changes have been made, such as the banning of inflight smoking.
Equally, while these changes may spring to mind for the average consumer, they constitute just one small aspect of the wider global effort to optimise air travel – efforts that have come along way, but are still providing manufacturers, MROs (maintenance, repair and operations firms) and airlines with new headaches each and every day.
One thing for certain is that remaining cost efficient is more difficult today than ever before in face of not only competitive pressures, but also the rising complexity of both demands and expectations.
“One quote springs to mind when we talk about cost efficiency,” explains Romain Rubi, the Founder of BSB Aviation, “and it comes from John Glenn. He said, ‘as I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind – every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder’.”
Renowned as being the first American to orbit Earth, the former US Senator’s words may come across as a chilling thought, as if he were risking his life being thrust through space in a cheap tin can.
However, his statement merely highlights the ability of both original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to increasingly provide world-leading solutions at lower costs.
Neither an MRO or airliner itself, BSB Aviation plays a crucial role in enabling the cost-efficiency ambitions of such organisations.
Working with an extensive network of esteemed OEMs and maintenance shops, the company is able to provide a range of cabin, avionics, and airframe standard and customised spares and consumables to its customers across the Middle Eastern and Asian MRO industries.
“Airlines and MROs today have the power to affect the quality of the products and BSB Aviation empowers them by offering value,” Rubi states. “Benefiting from a great market position, vendors like us have the power to open new sourcing channels. We are doing so by standardising products to complement the current supply and lower market pricing.”
Working in this way, BSB has quickly established itself as a key supply and distribution firm amongst regional aerospace players, a feat that has seen the it grow exponentially in the seven years since its inception.
“Our head office is located in Singapore, however, we recently incorporated a company in Sharjah UAE in order to better cater to our Middle Eastern customers,” Rubi explains. “Further, this year a key goal of ours is to set up a Spanish base that will act as a facilitator in the convergence of our European teams.”
Alongside this already expansive footprint, the company has a strong local presence in India for both MRO support and more specific Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) and Electrical Wiring Interconnection Systems (EWIS) support.
“2019 will also see our attention turning to a number of projects in Shanghai as we witness massive growth within China’s airlines market,” Rubi continues. “These things, combined with a well-established supply chain in Europe, the USA and India, really provide us with a global reach, working with renowned businesses such as Saudia Aerospace Engineering Industries.”
Perpetual philosophy, adaptable approach
Owed to this rapid expansion has been the company’s overriding ethos, tailoring its approach to each individual client by working with a range of OEMs and remaining adaptable in order to allow its customers to see the best results at minimum cost.
Monitoring current trends closely, BSB has recognised that smart cost management has been placed high on the agenda of many firms, more so than traditional cost cutting initiatives. However, the different elements of smart cost management often vary from one company to the next, something that has led BSB to its case-by-case approach.
“In simple terms, BSB Aviation’s key purpose is to serve its customers by catering to their bespoke needs,” states Rubi. “In many ways we make things difficult for ourselves. Our business is not carved in stone, and a large part of our model calls for flexibility on a daily basis.”
For Rubi, working in such a way is very much a delicate balancing act, ensuring that the company’s image and services remain relatively stable, whilst also adhering to the unique and ever-changing requests of its clientele.
“I must admit, it’s a tricky exercise,” he reveals. “In order to proactively avoid major issues, we encourage open space environments, cross-team brainstorming, problem solving and most importantly lateral thinking to avoid falling into traditional decision making.
“Ultimately, we’re working in a very innovative and evolutionary industry, so to keep pace it is crucial we work in equally innovative and evolutionary ways. In my view, in a rapidly developing industry, rapid process changes ensure competitiveness.”
Emphasising quality over quantity and focusing on achieving maximised customer satisfaction above all else, the company’s growth has remained an organic process, securing both new and repeat work off the back of its consistent results.
Evidence of this approach can be found in one of BSB’s diversified business units, named BSB-TRONIX – a division that is tasked specifically with supplying aerospace OEM subcontractors with electronic and interconnection components.
Backed up by the firm’s ability to support a vast range of aircraft, including seven Airbus models, two ATR models, four Boeing models, seven Bombardier CRJ and Embraer models respectively, and four Airbus Helicopter models, BSB-TRONIX has equally excelled alongside the wider BSB Group on the global stage.
Whether it be wires, connectors, passive components or alike, BSB-TRONIX allows the company to operate both in the aftermarket and MRO phase, and directly within the manufacturing sphere.
“We supply the equipment manufacturers in one phase, and the end users in another,” adds Rubi. “Working at both ends of the spectrum, we frequently supply the manufacturers before the aircraft maiden flight, long before it enters our customers’ hangars, offering us a head start on aftermarket supply and product technical knowledge.”
Equally, following the introduction of Saudi Arabia’s new low-cost airline, Flyadeal, BSB Aviation has sought to offer an even wider range of low-cost aftermarket solutions, particularly emphasising cost efficiency and safety as a driving force behind this initiative.
Rubi continues: “Our experience in selling standard items and proprietary parts gives us a clear objective view of the market. Many leading stockists offer basic customer needs with undeniable quality, but lack strong technical knowledge and flexibility to offer solutions in conflict with their current product offering.
“This is where we come in.
“Proposing buyer furnished equipment (BFE) with carefully selected manufacturers to maximise future returns on investment after aircraft delivery is one example of this, while our in-flight entertainment solution can save airlines up to 40 percent when compared to traditional offers.”
Remaining adaptable, BSB is able to access a multitude of benefits, positioning itself at the core of elevating markets and gaining a competitive advantage.
Coupled with its accentuation on flexibility, key to BSB Aviation’s success is the internal platform that it provides to its staff, allowing them to thrive for both personal benefit and in the company’s interest.
Providing opportunities to people from a variety of different backgrounds has remained a key philosophy of BSB from the outset, opting to offer its staff in-house training and day to day educational opportunities that have since seen the company team excel.
“We believe in people’s skills and creativity,” explains Rubi. “We often see a lack of industry experience as a good thing when looking at the bigger picture.
“Hiring in such a way allows us to ensure that our mindset and strategy is well applied for our customers without the interference of certain bias or past experience that may, out of habit, be detrimental to our unique ways of working. Our staff are free to explore any opportunities or initiatives so long as it serves our customers in a positive way.”
This is not to say that BSB’s employees aren’t adept in dealing with complex problems, however, with the firm recently focusing its training centre topics on subjects as intricate as engine wiring systems.
Again, opting to take a differentiated approach towards a core aspect of the business, BSB Aviation is able to further gain competitive advantages, benefitting from significant employee retention and a highly skilled workforce that readily gain insights into new experiences and techniques during each and every working day.
Setting an example
Currently expanding on all fronts, Rubi is quick to iterate that new opportunities are constantly being provided to ambitious people, particularly in the face of BSB’s current investment plan – a plan that aims to grow the firm’s physical presence and footprint across the globe.
“Any job applications are welcomed from the USA, South America, and China territories, regions that we are looking to take on new staff in support of our current development plans,” affirms the company Founder.
Expanded employment, however, makes up just one aspect of BSB Aviation’s exciting prospects for the year ahead, a year that will also see the company striving to achieve AS9120 certification – renowned as the ISO 9001 for aerospace companies.
Having already achieved ASA-100 and FAA AC00-56B certification, BSB Aviation is readily distinguished amongst both OEM supplier and major airlines and MROs worldwide.
Recognising its position as a major market influencer, BSB is keen to act responsibly on all fronts, not only when it comes to its own operations, but equally throughout its wider corporate activities.
To this end, alongside its efforts to achieve AS9120, the business is currently implementing a document management solution that will soon allow it to become 100 percent paperless.
“We care deeply about the environment, and in the knowledge that we have to emphasise sustainability, we are actively looking to ensure that we prevent the unnecessary use of resources,” adds Rubi.
All things combined, it is evident that there is a lot for Rubi and his team to be excited about as BSB moves through 2019. However, despite reaching lofty heights, the firm remains grounded and ever-adherent to its key ambitions of reducing costs for its customers and maximising satisfaction and results.
Evidence of this comes from Rubi himself, with the Founder having observed that manufacturers often have diverse business models for the aftermarket, something that has seen BSB Aviation juggling with OEMs that equally have different beliefs in regards to the airlines.
“Some manufacturers believe airlines have to pay full price, whilst others feel they should get the cheapest price,” explains Rubi. “From distribution to resell to random discounts, manufacturers have many varying pricing strategies – something that causes us challenges as we attempt to strengthen relationships and offer end-user market stability.
“At BSB Aviation, this is the challenge that we work to overcome by limiting and planning shipments, and transparently communicating between the OEMs and end users, all the while ensuring that transactions are the cheapest to standard.”
BSB ensures buyers are assured accordingly in multiple ways, provided with access to innovative key performance indicator platforms that allow the company’s customers to monitor its own performance.
“We also believe in customer freedom to experiment on their own, and this is why a non-binding gentlemen’s agreement on pricing, offering flexibility to both sides, is to be renewed regularly, exclusively perpetuated by trust,” Rubi continues.
Driven by an idea that the spares market should be dictated by the end users themselves, BSB’s approach has seen it establish a world-renowned brand that continues to take plaudits from satisfied customers.
Soaring into a new aviation era
The firm also aims to use innovation and technologies to achieve its goals and remain ahead of the curve.
According to a report last year from global management consulting and professional services firm Accenture, the aerospace and defence industry is grappling with the disruptive forces of technology more now than ever before.
Statistics taken from Accenture’s survey reveal that 97 percent of aerospace executives are willing to digitally reinvent their business and industry – statistics that undoubtedly encompass BSB, a firm that has been openly looking to improve its operational portfolio with technology from the outset.
“Innovation is key,” states Rubi. “We have entered a new digital era, where AI will be decisive in any industry. Considering aviation more specifically, in my view AI will assist industry players in making the industry both safer and more productive.”
Abiding by this opinion, BSB-TRONIX has been experimenting with AI, looking at its potential application within the aerospace aftermarket.
“Product development is of the utmost importance, and new technologies, combined with collaborative opportunities between MROs and vendors, can play a key role in improving this,” Rubi continues.
“On technologically-enabled platforms, we can team up and sell commonly developed products to increase revenue.
“This is something that is still in development, but I guarantee it will benefit our customers with new filtering solutions.”
Working with the latest technologies in the aim of achieving improved output and efficiency, coupled with the firm’s overriding customer satisfaction-centric ethos, it is undeniable that BSB will continue to be an engine for aviation innovation around the world for years to come.