Challenging times for the aviation industry means that now is the time to create true partnerships with partners that can deliver.
We recently spoke to Mr. Rizzoli, MD of OCEM Airfield Technology, to understand the turmoil in the aviation industry and how it’s time for airports to work with partners that deliver upon their promises.
As the MD for OCEM Airfield Technology, what can you say about the impact of COVID on your business this year?
I believe the current situation is twofold, on one hand, we see airports that have turned a negative into a positive when the COVID crisis brought aviation to an almost standstill. They kept their investments in the refurbishment of their run- and taxiways on the same level, on the other hand, we saw some airports that delayed their planned investments. While I can understand this, it’s also a shame as traffic will only but increase going forward. The past period was a blessing for many contractors and installers that got to work in almost ideal circumstances, of course not forgetting the necessary COVID precautions they needed to take. Going forward I believe traffic will pick up again, by mid-2021 and some airports should be at pre-COVID levels even though not all would tend to agree with me. For OCEM the impact of COVID has been limited, we have been able to continue to work, produce, and deliver our solutions and service to our customers. The strong growth figures we have seen in the past will continue and we are happy to still see till today a solid order intake and revenues but of course the year is not yet over with.
Will we see substantial changes in the Airfield Ground Lighting industry?
I do believe that when it comes to the airside some important evolutions will take place, on one hand, you have a series of smaller players. They will be able to survive if they focus on niche markets or on specific solution areas. On the other hand, you have a handful of bigger players that will have to make important decisions as to where their future lies. To continue playing you either need a solid innovative and complete portfolio of products, a good flexible set-up, and certainty about your supply chain and … being serious about your role in this market. The other option is that you continue trying to be everything for everyone often with an incomplete portfolio and leave it to other companies to clean up the mess as we have done on numerous occasions in the last couple of years. We are very serious about where our focus lies. Great airfield lighting products, high quality, and a customer support that makes a difference. We don’t see the need to move away from airfield lighting, it’s a big market and we can do so much more still.
How do you see OCEM re-affirming its number 2 position on the market?
Our strong growth doesn’t come from nowhere, we have not been giving away our products or simply buying references. We have focused on creating a solid portfolio of LED solutions from approach to apron that stands out. One solid product range, well designed, developed, and produced according to our high quality and sustainability standards and above all tested and tried before implementation. We have a complete portfolio of lights, power solutions, and control systems that meet all criteria from a range of certification bodies and very importantly, easy to maintain throughout the product’s lifecycle. We are currently introducing a series of services on the market that can help our customers better understand their airfield set up, making sure it’s set up according to the regulatory requirements and maintain it as cost-efficient as possible. We see a clear need for special services and this is one of our focus domains to further extend our lead.
The OCEM we know today is no longer the OCEM we knew a few years back?
That is correct, we have ramped up our R&D efforts, firmly focused on innovation, quality, and supply chain and this is now paying off. We are not a huge company but we have been – what I think – focusing on the right things that also matter most to our customers. We have expanded our research teams, we have put a solid Quality Management System in place and have a great team to manage it from the development phase to the incoming goods inspection to outgoing product quality control. And let’s not forget our teams. Every company states that their people make the difference but in OCEM that is absolutely true. A great variety of people coming from all over the globe, passionate about aviation, young and older, and clear about how they can contribute to the safety and sustainability of our airport customers. It’s hard work to serve our customers day in, day out but it should also be fun and that is what we strive for.
Qatar, Egypt, Uzbekistan, OCEM manages ever more turnkey projects. A new direction?
We have been delivering projects in a turnkey approach before but never as outspoken as we have seen it over the past few years. Many more customers are turning to us as they see us capable of handling their projects in a turnkey mode. We have set up an organization to deal with big complex projects and we have been very successful at it. Our most recent project in Tashkent – where we work with a team of colleagues we brought together from all corners of the world – is going very well. Airports and contractors trust us, as we not only have the capabilities but we also deliver what we promise. Airfield Ground Lighting and everything that surrounds it, is getting much more complex so you need the expertise to deal with that complexity and this is where we have been strongly focusing on in the past years.
And last but not least, what are the trends you see in aviation?
Sustainability, consolidation, and reliability. Airports focus ever more on assuring that the solutions they implement are fully compliant with the latest sustainability requirements from low energy consumption to recycling of hardware components. This is where we see a clear role for companies like us. Consolidation, where more and more airlines consolidate their operations or end up in bigger groups and COVID, has created a much bigger need to consolidate or go bankrupt. Also within the airport industry, we see an ever-stronger trend to consolidate airport operations under one umbrella. Finally reliability. In the aviation industry, no one can afford to make mistakes, this means being very selective with whom you work with. Airports get very selective about who they work with based on the suppliers’ ability to deliver upon their commitments. More than ever trust, quality, and reliability on every level play a key element in the relationship between vendors and customers.
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