Global Business Awards 2020

Issue 4 2020 5 world was an amazing experience and precisely what we set out to achieve .” commented Laurence. The company enlisted the support of expert Rodney Hanson of Dark Matter Composites, from whom they learned hi-tech composite techniques, developing and honing the Barrett Aerospace team’s composite technology skills, and becoming experts themselves. It took the firm two months to arrive at the first working prototype of the empennage. Following this, it only took three months to offer the customer a further 11 potential designs. Barrett Aerospace adopts a ‘design for manufacture’ approach. This is a practice whereby the manufacturing and design processes take place simultaneously, while each of the designs was in development. This gave the team insight into the practicality of each design and, more importantly, whether the cost could be optimised quickly, allowing them to evaluate and decide upon the most critical design aspects. Being in control of leading the design, determining its functionality, evaluating its pragmatism and defining its cost, Barrett Aerospace added another constraint: to design their solution with a discerning level of aesthetic beauty, in line with the whole Alice aircraft. As composites experts, the team was able to work with the continuous nature of the load-carrying fibres within the composite material. Working alongside the Alice main aircraft assembly team in Vannes, France, Barrett Aerospace knuckled down to meet the extremely tight timescales. Manufacturing was pushed right up to the last possible moment. However, in spite of the many problems that crept into the build, the delivery was on time and on budget. “I am so proud of the entire Barrett Aerospace team, who pulled out all the stops to meet some of the most challenging timescales we have ever been given. Seeing the completed Alice demonstrator at the Paris Air Show was a uniquely fulfilling moment in the company’s history.” Whatever the problem, tea is the answer Currently, Barrett Aerospace is involved with an AgriTech project in India to deliver an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for tea- harvesting on a 2000 acre plantation in The Nilgiris, South India, where there is currently a growing shortage of manual labour to undertake the time-consuming, tedious and potentially risky task of physically plucking the tea crop by hand and then manually carrying it to the processing centre. Using UAVs to pluck and transport tea saves a considerable amount of time when compared to manual tea plucking. UAVs can pick and transfer tea in minutes, rather than hours and, with India being the world’s second largest tea producer and tea pickers in short supply, the market opportunity for UAVs in a tea harvesting role is considerable. “ We are already doing quite a lot of work in India, including Tamil Nadu ,” said Laurence “so when we were asked to help find a UAV solution to the tea harvest in Ooty we leapt into action. UAVs are emerging technology and we are developing the technology that enables the drones to identify and pluck only the leaves that are perfectly ready for processing and to leave the rest to mature on the plant.” As well as tea plucking, UAVs can offer other cost-effective solutions to tea farmers, including hyperspectral cameras to take visual images to measure of the amount, type and health of vegetation in a scan; and sophisticated sensors to detect temperature, nitrogen levels, moisture, soil nutrient levels, plant height, soil problems, pest swarming and disease spreading. “The UAV tea harvest project chimes well with Barrett Aerospace’s ambition to look at AgriTech solutions that might one day help to solve current and future food shortage problems in underdeveloped countries.” Laurence added. “ This curiosity and lead-based culture at Barrett Aerospace has led to the firm deciding that its focus will now be more altruistic, for the benefit of mankind, rather than specifically on commercial viability. For the team, it’s about working for a cause rather than a dollar. ” “ With regard to the emergence of unmanned and autonomous systems in aerospace ,” commented Laurence, “ Barrett Aerospace strongly believes that the consumer is beginning to indicate what will become the norm for future flight. The technology is now advancing to meet this demand, with the growth of UAVs and the development of the new airspace environments within which these will fly and deliver products. Singapore is fast becoming a great test bed for these technologies, which is one of the reasons that Barrett Aerospace has such a strong presence there. As already earmarked in Singapore, a 5G network will be essential to provide the digital tracking and controllability of future UAVs and air taxis .” Global Business Awards 0