"We are currently recruiting to grow our engineering department in order to increase our capacity to develop customized system solutions for the aerospace industry. There is an increasing demand for our services, and we want to be ready to meet it."
Can we begin with an overview of MDP – Maxon Motor France’s recent history and performance in 2017?
In 2016, our global turnover was around US $450 million, and we are aiming to increase this to around US$530 million in the coming years. Around 10% of our global turnover comes from the aerospace industry, and this is increasing every year. We serve the aerospace industry not only by building individual motors, but also by developing complete solutions for our customers, and we are certified EN9100 by the European Association of Aerospace Industries for our project development and production.
We are also known in France as a multi-technology distributor for the medical devices and industrial markets. Our engineering office is well qualified to adapt our standardized solutions to the specific needs of our customers, which vary in terms of interface and environment. MDP - Maxon Motor France has around 50 high-skilled employees and had a turnover of around US$20 million in 2017.
How are industry-wide trends driving sales of your products?
The objective for aerospace companies is always to consume less fuel, which typically is achieved by making the aircraft lighter. We are the motor company of choice in this regard as the industry leader in creating motors that are both highly powerful and very small. Developing lighter motors is imperative in reducing the weight of aircraft; for example, a commercial aircraft could have two or three motors per business/1st class seat. With around 100 business seats per aircraft, a reduction of even 100 grams per motor accumulates to a large weight saving over the whole aircraft.
How have recent innovations in the aerospace industry impacted MDP - Maxon Motor France’s R&D activities?
Most significantly, the shift towards electric aircraft has necessitated the replacement of hydraulic equipment with a mixture of hydraulic and electric, or fully electric actuators. As a general rule, it is more cost effective to switch from hydraulic to electric motors as there is far less maintenance of the motor required. MDP - Maxon Motor France is the ideal partner to work with aerospace companies to help them make this change, as we work specifically for the industrial market and are producing about 4 million motors per year. As we are producing such a huge quantity of parts, the cost of production per unit is very low. This means that even our custom developed and produced parts are more cost effective, because even if many of them integrate specific adaptations of parts, an important amount of the motor can still be built from a standard part that we already mass-produce. We have taken advantage of this trend; specifically, it has been a great opportunity for us to develop and implement brushless motor solutions, such as EC flat or frameless motors.
There has also been an increase in the number of motors needed in the cockpit of aircraft as a result of the integration of Fly-by-Wire technology and haptic needs in the cockpit space. Developing motors to meet these needs required a focus on marrying high-power density with a very small volume.
Finally, the new regulations within the growing UAV market will lead to the development of more specific products, such as propulsion systems that are suitable for safe usage within cities, and specific motorizations for industrial UAV applications. With our experience and expertise, we will develop these products with a high level of efficiency and reliability, and flourish in this market.
What is MDP - Maxon Motor France’s growth strategy for the coming years?
We are currently recruiting to grow our engineering department in order to increase our capacity to develop customized system solutions for the aerospace industry. There is an increasing demand for our services, and we want to be ready to meet it. Managing an aerospace project is typically a four to six year commitment, so we are now in the process of preparing to be able to take on more of those projects in the near future.
We also anticipate higher rates of production. We are increasing the production of some of our product lines, while also remaining committed to meeting a very high-quality standard.
Finally, we are looking to form collaborations with different research institutes to develop more competitive mechatronic actuators for aviation, helicopter and space application. We need to pay attention to emerging technologies such as 3D printing and plastic injection to remain at the cutting-edge; these technologies have huge potential in terms of creating lighter, more fuel-efficient systems.
We anticipate that in the coming years more than 30% of MDP - Maxon Motor France’s revenue will be generated by the aerospace market.