Automation in Refuelling Goes East
Careful consideration of customers needs as well as culture is important when entering new markets, writes Dr. Christine Grötzbach
By Dr. Christine Grötzbach
To quote a popular Chinese proverb, When drinking water, never forget its source, meaning, the roots of a business arrangement begin with the customer. This might seem like an international truism, but with specific restrictions and requirements for different market environments, solutions must be tailored with regard to particular features of the product and the target group.
The distinction of national characteristics should be considered within a global concept and any interested provider within the relevant aviation industry should be no exception. The foreign businessperson is well advised to take into account the overall political and economical situation when interacting with local companies as information technology solutions find their way more and more into the ground handling industry. The Chinese market can be regarded as a big challenge with a huge potential for an IT-service provider offering their products and services to the ground handling industry.
Reaching the Chinese Market
In China, the refuelling services at the airports are controlled by the national aircraft fuel company China Aviation Oil Supply Corporation (CAOSC). CAOSC handles the services either directly or as major shareholder in a consortium. Thus, currently an interested overseas businessman is faced with a limited number of customers.
The Chinese company, Mansrich Ltd. acts as a bridge between China and other overseas countries. Mansrich was founded in 1999 and is developing fast, introducing advanced products and IT solutions from abroad into the Chinese aviation fuel market. A German consortium has recently started to cooperate with Mansrich. The partners within the German consortium are the Hamburg-based global IT-solution supplier DCO DV-Convent-Informationsmanagement GmbH, the Germany-wide operating refuelling service company, AFS Aviation Fuel Services & Management GmbH and the BARTEC GmbH, which offers the system PETRODAT 3002 (integrated flow computer, data transfer, ATEX approved). Their object was to provide a complete computer controlled fuel transfer system.
DCO, having celebrated its 10th anniversary in September 2002, has developed on behalf of AFS an IT-solution for automating the administration in refuelling for Germany. FHS Fuel Handling System integrates the administrative procedures of the involved logistic partners from the refinery into the aircraft: the airline, the oil company, the transport agency, the fuel tank farm/hydrant operator and the into-plane operator. Due to the effectiveness of the system it has been installed all over the world.
"Mansrich decided to combine with the German consortium because of its well developed products and its successful performance worldwide," explains Mr.Qin Wensheng, Managing Director of Mansrich. "Mansrich is familiar with both international projects and the Chinese market. We are experienced in international trade and international bidding. Besides, we know well how to deal with our own Chinese customers. We act as independent local agents also providing the local technical support." Mr.Qin Wensheng adds, "Basic requirement in China is an improvement of the operator's efficiency to reduce ground time of the aircraft along with reducing service costs. The advantages of information technology are being realized by an ambitious Chinese management. Some of the systems in ground handling application have been developed by CAOSC, which strives for world-class IT-solutions."
Entering the Chinese market and the development of a Chinese product is a challenge for the German consortium. The structure and the workflows have to be tailored to the Chinese customers after a thorough evaluation of the basic needs. Mr. Qin is convinced of the Mansrich ability to close the deal. "We organize technical seminars to show functions and advantages of the system. We survey the feedback and provide the necessary support. Only when the customers realises the advantages, will he accept the system."
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