Augmented collaboration behind the scenes in the space industry is improving customer experience through increased customer involvement. Use-It-Wisely space partners set out almost three years ago to develop innovative software that will allow adaptable and customisable systems for spacecraft manufacturing and upgrades. This involves direct involvement of the customer, so that the overall system is adaptable to different types of space missions.
Since 2013, the three partners; Thales Alenia Space Italia (TAS-I), Altec and Vastalla, have also discovered many other benefits of their collaboration. Carlo Vizzi from Altec says that not only has
“sharing tools with other partners improved collaboration and facilitated the development of new features [it will also] enhance the methods and processes used in the company for managing collaboration with customers”.
The new technology developed allows space stakeholders to view virtual models of spacecraft based on technical data, related simulations and 3D visualisations. This will allow engineers designers and customers, to communicate more effectively during spacecraft developments and upgrades. The tool may be used across the European space sector once it is fully developed and validated.
The software will have multiple functions for space stakeholders including capturing and anticipating customer feedback and requirements; assisting in the redesign of operations and providing a technically knowledgeable customers with easily interpreted simulations and 3D visualisations of space crafts.
Since Use-It-Wisely began, the software has undergone three rigorous trial studies. The first trial focussed on establishing the data requirements of engineers; the second trial assessed how customers could access the system and how internal staff from designers to engineers, connected with the interface. The third trial, which was run in Turin, Italy in July 2015, combined all of the tools and IT developments from previous trials.
The final study to demonstrate and validate the functioning software is now underway. It is being tested on an existing TAS-I project, Space Tug. Following the completion of this trial, the refined software will be available to the Italian Space Agency, the European Space Agency as well as other international customers.
According to Mauro Pasquinelli of Thales Alenia Space Italia:
“The prototype will allow us to show space agencies and other customers that the proposed system and approach can be very effective in the configuration and management of a mission”.
This solution will improve communications externally between the organisation and its customers; it will also improve communications between designers, operators, manufacturers and other internal stakeholders. And while Use-It-Wisely partners are testing the system in the space environment, it may be customised to many different industries requirements where highly technical products are designed and manufactured.
Indeed, Stefano Chiado from Vastalla believes that these innovations will be relevant to collaborative engineering, big data, cloud architectures and ultimately could be applied to web configurators in any industrial domain.