The circular economy system focuses on more efficient use of our scarce raw materials, but also on the application of new supporting business models that will be vital for a successful, sustainable future. In other words, our existing models, often centralised around the product, will have to be fundamentally reinvented.
With this in mind, Econocom and AeroCat already worked together some time ago to improve the airlinecatering model. We came up with a light, innovative trolley and an accompanying economic model that focuses on the use and less on the possession of the trolley. The (ecological) advantages of the trolley are great: up to 30% less fuel costs, lower CO2 emissions, use of recyclable materials, etc.
Through increased digital possibilities and with the support of Flanders Circular, we want to strengthen these ideas and introduce a whole system innovation, and thus facilitate the transition to a circular economy. The physical trolley can evolve into an intelligent Airline Tech Trolley as- a-Service (ATAAS), which means a fundamental transformation in what is known now, as a conservative market.
To meet this challenge, we worked together with De Ster, the Flemish division of Gategroup, which, with 750,000 trolleys under management, is the world market leader in airline catering.
The ecological advantages of the new trolley are great: up to 30% less fuel, lower CO2 emissions, use of recyclable materials, less maintenance, longer service life, smarter use of capital and reuse of second-hand trolleys.
The ATAAS helps airlines innovate their customer relationship: from a mere ticket transaction to a long-term relationship centred on service, support and experience. Marketing strategies that revolve solely around the lowest price are becoming a thing of the past.
The ATAAS is made of plastic (instead of conductive aluminium) which offers many more possibilities to equip the trolley with all kinds of digital, innovative gadgets (WiFi, Bluetooth, track & trace system ...). This means benefits for both the airline and its passengers.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
Many companies always see risks in such innovations that they would rather avoid. Although we know that our product-as-a-service model can be of great value, it will be important to first prove the positive results in terms of efficiency and cost savings. This will motivate and reassure companies to take the step towards this new model.
Despite the good results of this project, we realise that we still have a long way to go to fully implement this circular business model. Such evolutions take time and influencing market behaviour is a complex process.
This project was a real eye-opener for all participants. Everyone was already naturally motivated to contribute to a better, more sustainable world, but this project made it clear that it is primarily our good cooperation that can make the difference, much more than the mere sum of the individual efforts of the various partners.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
The innovative product-as-a-service model has a number of attractive advantages, but this does not mean that there is a magic formula that will lead to success every time. Both demand and supply must be synchronously interested and motivated to switch to the model.
What is clear is that the product-as-a-service model is a real opportunity to build stronger customer relationships, generate morerevenue and create a more competitive market position. We expect that within this year and five years, the model will become increasingly popular and customers will also demand more of it.