The automated portal has allowed BAE Systems customers faster access to information that can help them repair critical machinery.
The defense manufacturer created a new selling opportunity by giving customers better data access in the field.
In 2009, the Global Combat Systems (GCS) Vehicles unit of global aerospace and defense manufacturer BAE Systems decided to upgrade its communications capabilities for products in the field. Its products include military machines, such as tanks and combat vehicles, that patrol the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere.
It’s somewhat jarring to hear a maker of combat machinery talk about extending revenue opportunities through aftermarket services, but the same logic that has inspired makers of dishwashers and medical devices applies here as well.
To expand beyond the traditional service model of “products and spare parts,” BAE Systems GCS needed to think more progressively about how it connected with its customers in the defense world. Information management was identified as a key capability early on, says Peter Nygren, BAE Systems GCS Vehicles director of sales, R&S international. “A service provider needs access to product data as well as in-service data, keeping control of configuration of the supported systems,” he says.
To create that access, BAE Systems set about integrating a bevy of in-house product management systems to create the TLC Portal, which stands for Through Life Capability. Via the portal, users and engineers in the field can report issues and receive rapid response on maintenance issues, including the repair methods to employ and the tools and skills required. The TLC Portal system works with the help of the Share-A-space software, which allows for secure governance of the data BAE shares with customers.
The automated portal has allowed BAE Systems customers faster access to information that can help them repair critical machinery. And the benefits flow both ways: BAE Systems learns about the performance of its vehicles in the field, an invaluable feedback loop for future designs.
A relatively small investment in the technology that underlies the TLC Portal has led to a number of significant long-term contracts for BAE Systems GCS, particularly for aftermarket services such as fleet management. At a time when deficit hawks the world over are placing defense budgets under the microscope, BAE Systems GCS has positioned itself to find new revenue opportunities in the field.