STAYS AHEAD OF THE GAME
- "Product Solutions to Meet the Customer's Needs"
In a recent interview with FMC, General Manager Chuck Durst, Product Development Manager Nick Heemskerk and Business Development and Marketing Manager Gene Johnson shared with Ground Support Magazine some of the company's history as well as FMC's vision for the future including some new products due to launch in the coming year.
FMC History & Business Structure
So many times, equipment from one industry gets modified to fit into another. Such is the case with FMC's citrus sprayer technology that ultimately morphed into deicing equipment applications.
"In the 1880's, there was an invention called the "Continuous Spray Pump" that was developed by John Bean," explains Gene Johnson. "That became the basis for FMC Corporation, which was formed in 1920 in San Jose, CA. That citrus pump and subsequent improvements to it became the technology basis for the first FMC deicer. Next year, we will be celebrating our 40th year in the GSE business."
Chuck Durst interjects, "Actually, there are still a number of those in service today. They're in Japan, the US, -- they're everywhere."
Johnson adds, "Similarly, some of the other GSE businesses were outgrowths of experience we've had and acquisitions. Our defense business became the basis for our wide-body loader, the predecessor to the Commander, which was also in the 1960's. Our conventional tractor line and our towbarless tractor line were the result of acquisitions of Krauss Mafei and Jetway."
Durst outlines the three areas that are the focus for
1. To provide delivered quality - the way we define that is not just products, but the experience of buying and the service that we provide as well.
2. After sales support - In this business, it's not just providing a product but that product needs to perform and be reliable and it has to have high utilization on the ramp. So how well we support it and how well we keep our product in good condition and provide the knowledge for maintenance and so forth to our customer is a function of how well of a supplier we are to those customers.
3. Value added technology - We don't just want to provide technology for the sake of technology, we want to make sure that we are innovating from the perspective of what the customer values and try to understand their business and their application and develop products and features that actually provide solutions.
"There's a variety of customers out there," says Durst, "and one of the key things that we've done to our designs and that we're focusing on is to make sure that we provide a modularity to our product so that without a lot of engineering, we can cover a spectrum of technical requirements."
"We see a growth in narrow-body aircraft because of the low cost airlines and the products to service that industry is obviously an area of growth and one that we're focusing on," offers Durst. "We also have projects for all of our products to satisfy the A380. One other trend that we think will happen is that the towbarless tractor will grow and expand into the U.S. It's pretty much widely accepted in Europe, but it's just starting to be accepted in the U.S. and we think that that trend will continue because of the economics of the towbarless tractor. It depends on your operating procedures, but basically, you can reduce personnel and they are also more time-efficient. You can operate more gates with one tractor because of its efficiencies."
Durst continues, "Another trend we see is the need for development of products that utilize alternative fuels. We're doing a lot of work with electrics right now. Down the road, we expect that GSE may convert to fuel cell technology once it's developed and the infrastructure is in place at the airports. The electrics are the first step to that ultimate fuel. Beyond that, it's what the engine manufacturers are doing to improve emissions."
FMC Airport Systems' global ground support team offers a look ahead to trends and events that could affect our industry, reports Michelle Garetson January 2004 While no one in aviation...