"Level the playing field", Didrik Bech Elmatica
FFD2019 – two days packed with inspiration, forward thinking and interesting case presentations!
It might sound like Michael J. Fox is returning in a new version of the legendary movie from the 80ties. His not. However, the title sets the scene when the Swedish Defence Industry meets up for a two-day conference, the FFD2019, packed with great and inspiring content.
The defence Minister, Peter Hultgren had the pleasure to start the conference, talking about how the defence industry is developing, defence politics – where we are heading, what challenges we will meet and how Sweden wish to increase their defence sector. Going back to the future. A new strategy is on the agenda, going back to the basics, gearing up the defence sector with tighter cooperation and earlier involvement between the involved parties.
Lately, we have attended several defence related trainings in Washington, both regarding compliance and cybersecurity, being told that the focus is directed towards quality is music in our ears. One of the key factors in the defence industry is reliability, products might be on stock for months, or years before usage – a focus on quality – down to the basics, as the PCB, ensures that the products will not fail even if storage is necessary.
Points mentioned at FFD2019 were increase of the defence sector, on-time delivery of products, still with the right quality and within the given budget.
Globalization in the defence industry
The FFD2019 provided a unique setting and the ability to listen to some of the key influencers in the Swedish defence sector. Listening to General Major at Must, Lena Hallin talking about the threats in the defence industry, the CEO of SAAB Micael Johansson talking about globalisation and how it will affect the market, how we need to look outside of EU and secure the competence, was very engaging.
What will affect the Defense industry in the years to come?
Cecilia Warrol from Production 2030 talked about the development of technology – what trends are influencing the defence industry in the years to come? Industrial production 4.0 where IoT and AI technology will increase for each year, she also mentioned the innovative test environment developed at Chalmers University of Technology, where humans and robots work side by side developing technical solutions for the future.
In the PCB industry, capabilities are key. Who can produce your printed circuits, according to the right technology and materials? Capabilities were also the topic when Lt Col Matt Sargent, Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC) held his speech. We have recently seen that in the defence industry as in other industries, capabilities will change. Production might go faster, demanding more advanced production machinery for volume production, individual adaptation might be needed and the desire to make changes on the go and have multiple variations of the same design will affect production.
At FFD2019 the focus was 100% spot on defence both days, even during lunchtime. The regular starter were traded for the simple #outmeal, dried food with warm water, just like in the field. A wonderful idea and gimmick – and it tasted quite good. It’s always a pleasure attending these events, meeting up with customers and industry partners.
In-house and over sea development
The presentation from Saab was in particular interesting, talking about how they want to expand and establish growth in the US, UK and Australia – developing “mini-Saab” with production and development over there. Having local competence will improve and ease the ability to tailor the in-house product development for specific markets.
Better understanding, security and trust
The key words in many presentations were the same, many focused on better understanding, security and trust, all with the intention to bind the industrial partners, The Swedish Defence Authorities and Government tighter together.
Cybersecurity was often mentioned – for our sake, recently returning from Cybersecurity training in the US, it was uplifting to hear that the industry has understood that the premiss of cybersecurity needs to be implemented at an early stage. Late implementation can be costly and demand lots of resources.
The same goes for the product development process. At Elmatica we have even made our own movie talking about all the advantages with an early involvement in the product development process. The same was mentioned at the conference, early involvement will improve the development, representatives from the industry even mentioned involvement during the military rehearsal, an excellent opportunity to test and further develop the products.
As said: “ What’s not rehearsed and tested in peace will not happen during wartime”.
“Defence Product Pitch Day” – with funding after 5 – 15 minutes!
FMW presented a showcase from the US Air Force and a “Pitch Day” they have arranged. Over 400 startups were invited to pitch their products/services, close to 60 of these were granted permission to start development of the innovative idea. The efficiency was at such a level that the funding was transferred to the innovators just after 5 – 15 minutes. It’s a great and effective way to allow smaller startups to enter such big players often difficult to access in the market.
It would not surprise us if such a pitching arena would appear in Sweden as well, since it was well received amongst the entire industry.
SOFF2025 – reaching the young ones!
Another creative stunt presented was SOFF2025 a YouTube channel with a young approach, where influencers and decision makers in the industry are interview by young people. Key words are innovation, defence and technology and the purpose is to build awareness and interest about the defence sector.
A returning focus the two days, were the desire and need to bind the different parties in the defence industry working closer together, the Swedish Government, the Defence Industry, FMW (Forsvarets Materialverk, equivalent to US DoD), and The Swedish Defence Authorities.
Trust and cooperation is key!