The journey to designing a world-first servitization technology

The Design Innovation Network team met with Ian Machan, Managing Director of the Advanced Services Group, and Iain McKechnie, Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Advanced Services Group, Aston Business School to discuss the importance of design for servitization. This conversation opportunities and technological innovations that design for servitization unlocks.

We began by discussing what their design servitization roles involve. Ian Machan said that he leads the commercial application of the research carried out within the centre for excellence on advanced services at the business school. Essentially, he finds brilliant people that have experience and capabilities to support our customers, who then apply the research and tools developed. Iain McKechnie added that he engages with the manufacturing sector to transfer the latest research on advanced services, and explores partnerships where we bid for Innovate UK R&D funding as well as UK Research Council funding and, finally, disseminating the impact stories that come about through our research.

What’s your biggest priority at the moment?

Ian Machan described in detail that the current supply chain, energy, and political challenges are creating an uncertain marketplace for many manufacturers. Therefore, we are helping them to progress with new business models while also achieving more recent sustainability objectives. Following on from this, Iain McKechnie talked about their project involving exploiting a new facility in Warwick with their partner Baxi. In mid-2020, Baxi led an Innovate UK Manufacturing Made Smarter project focusing on ‘Heating-as-a-Service’ and he represented Aston University as one of the project partners. This also meant collaborating with Ian and his colleagues at The Advanced Services Group, as one of the four SMEs on the project, along with Siemens, Digital Catapult, Oxford Brookes Business School, and Exeter Business School. The £1.7m project concluded in June 2020 and they now have a world first – a Digital Servitization Demonstrator, in Baxi, where firms interested in testing alternative ways of delivering services to support customers or where they are investigating the changes required to deliver a different type of business model…Read more