IAI Bedek is on the hunt for new industry 4.0 technologies to help transform MRO through its HANGAR innovation lab. The innovation accelerator, which opened late 2017, just completed its first startup competition outside Israel to find new companies and technologies to focus on for 2019.
HANGAR, which currently employs four people, acts as a virtual hub to host startup companies for a period of three to six months as they complete pilot projects and proofs of concept (POC). According to Zviya Baron, head of HANGAR, the goal behind the innovation lab is to introduce new technologies that make MRO work more efficient while reducing turnaround times and creating new value for customers.
“We act as a gateway for startups into the aerospace business, providing mentoring, access to our infrastructure—including a fully certified experimental Boeing 737—exposure to our network, certification consultation and much more,” says Baron.
“We understand data is king, and so are looking for technologies which will supply us with data for older models of aircraft while adding value to our customers at the same time,” explains Baron. “We are looking for projects in the space of industry 4.0, such as machine learning, IoT, energy resources, additive manufacturing, digitization of works processes, blockchain and supply chain.”
The innovation lab is focused on technologies within the space of MRO, passenger-to-freighter and cargo handling and Baron says it has developed a scouting mechanism to identify the right technologies—demonstrated in part through the company’s startup competitions. Last year’s three month-long competition, the Cargo Experience Challenge, identified three winners to join HANGAR’s 2018 program.
These included Kärsa—an “artificial nose” to detect explosives and narcotics during air cargo checks, HC Vision—a solution for non-destructive tests that uses cameras see corrosion through paint, and 3GSolar—a technology using dye-based printed photovoltaic cells as a renewable energy source that eliminates the need for charging or changing of batteries.
This year, the competition took place at the Cargo Facts EMEA event in Frankfurt, Germany February 4-6. Four companies made it to the final round of competition, including 8tree, The Lexx Group, SynapseMX and cellumation—which won for its Celluveyor smart loading floor. Celluveyor is based on cellular conveying technology and is composed of small hexagonal modules with specially arranged omnidirectional wheels that are individually and selectively controlled. The system allows logistics operators to move and position several objects simultaneously and independently on any track, which provides benefits for sorting objects of any shape and size.
According to Baron, Celluveyor is a perfect fit for IAI’s connected, cargo and conversions “C3 revolution.” Watch the technology in action here.
HANGAR’s current portfolio includes startup companies 3GSolar, Pzartech, Bio Nexus, Largix and Loginno. Pzartech, which is the first company to finish HANGAR’s program, has developed a digital tool for part recognition based on machine-learning. Through HANGAR, Pzartech worked with IAI teams, infrastructure and data within the company’s engine workshop to develop an app called Snapr, which retrieves part numbers through image recognition and enables semi-automatic entry of part serial numbers at MRO shops using smartphones and tablets. The goal is to reduce lead time optimize logistics processes.
Bio Nexus, which has developed a mobile workflow solution for secure transfer of data in a mobile environment, is implementing a new paperless pilot in Bedek’s line maintenance unit at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. Largix, which has developed cold fusion additive manufacturing technology, is beginning its POC at HANGAR to focus on aerospace-compatible composites for 3D printing processes. Meanwhile, Loginno is working with IAI Bedek to develop what it says will be the world’s first connected cargo solution or air transit to track and monitor cargo in-air.
Baron says HANGAR’s expanded search for technologies outside Israel will see it serving “more people with new exciting challenges this year.”