We at Insta make research and product development in close cooperation with our customers. Long customer relationships, trust and deep understanding of the customer’s operations enable coming up with innovations to even the most demanding challenges of our customers.
Aviation technology solutions are part of Insta’s unique expertise. Close cooperation with the Finnish Defence Forces has made it possible to develop new products for improving aviation safety.
The Insta ANR active noise reduction solution is a good example of a product developed at Insta to improve an important customer goal, aviation safety. In addition to protecting aircrew from hearing damage, the ANR improves radio communications intelligibility.
All you need to get started is an idea
The ANR development project started from identifying an important end user challenge. Measurements showed that the cabin noise levels exceeded safe limits during flights with the existing hearing protectors. The attenuation of the passive hearing protection was not sufficient at low frequencies and a noise-cancelling solution was needed to effectively protect hearing inside a helmet.
Once the problem was identified, it was time to define clear expectations for the product development project. The requirement specification was done together with the customer to match their exact needs and applicable aviation standards. For example, the size and shape of the system would need to enable mounting inside a helmet.
After understanding overall requirements it is time to test the feasibility of the product concept and shape the ideas into a working prototype. This is how we proceeded also with Insta ANR.
A virtual or physical sample of a product helps in answering product concepting questions such as: What are the most viable technologies to use? What might the product look like when it is ready? How would the customers actually use it? Also in this phase, an open customer dialogue is crucial for successful product development project.
After modeling the physical shape of the product, we moved into designing the features required in the intended operating environment. In the design of the noise-cancellation subsystem, the location and orientation of the microphones had to be considered very carefully to accurately measure noise inside the helmet and to keep the usability of the helmet unchanged. Together with the customer, it was also decided to include a dedicated speaker element for the noise cancellation and another one for the intercom. The design of the headphones also had to take into account the aircraft operating environment with cabin pressure changes.
Testing and continuous work
Before a new product can be used, it undergoes various tests to ensure that the product works correctly, is safe to use and fulfills required quality standards. The testing is a continuous effort throughout the development lifecycle from prototypes to final product.
For example the Insta ANR was tested in accordance with AQAP-2110 quality system in laboratories, field conditions and test flights. The completed Insta ANR provides up to 30 dB more attenuation in low frequencies compared to existing passive solutions.
However, the product development does not usually end with first completed product, documentations and user manuals. Continued customer cooperation makes it possible to recognize potential changing needs, deliver supplementary solutions or further improve the product based on usage experiences.
Benefits for both parties
The result of this aviation-focused and customer-oriented development project is a product with excellent end-user feedback. The users are very impressed with the powerful attenuation and do not want to use the former solution anymore.
While Insta ANR was originally developed for the Finnish Air Force, many other countries are also interested in the solution and integration projects to different helmet types are in progress. So with the launch of a successful new product line, the close co-operation ultimately benefits both parties.
How to succeed in customer-orientated product development:
- Listen to your customers and build cooperation
- Identify problems that need solutions and recognize product opportunities
- Engage your customers in a product concepting dialogue
- Execute product development projects with continuous testing and customer feedback
- Continue listening the customers to address changing needs, new challenges or product improvement opportunities.