Project Imagine

Project Imagine

13 June 2018
contest creativity innovation
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Enabling energy transition and the digital revolution is Assystem’s mission statement, and the Imagine programme is playing a central role in helping us turn this statement into action. The engineering sector is currently undergoing a sea-change, with the emergence of increasingly complex projects whose manufacturing and operating costs have to be tightly controlled. This means that engineers need to develop highly innovative methods and processes in order to be able to manage projects effectively and reliably, use all available know-how and technologies, and offer new services such as decision support, predictive maintenance, risk analysis and solutions for optimising the operating performance of infrastructure in order to meet clients’ ever-more stringent requirements regarding quality and lead times.

As everyone knows, in engineering we need to innovate throughout a project’s entire life cycle. The challenges in our industry today lie in (i) fully digitalising infrastructure using the latest advances in BIM (Building Information Modelling), (ii) creating digital continuity, mainly by introducing PLM/APM (Product Life Cycle Management/Asset Performance Management) approaches, which have long been used in the automotive and aeronautics industries and are starting to be applied to the design and operation of infrastructure, and (iii) our ability to develop new skills and know-how and capture state-of-the-art technologies so we can propose them to our clients.
Innovation and digital transformation are changing the dynamics of our partnerships and are reshaping our clients’ business models with the emergence of new very high value-added functions and uses.

Rising to all of these challenges obviously requires individual talents, but it also requires the ability to mobilise multi-disciplinary and international teams in order to meet our clients’ expectations.
Spearheading a collaborative, continuous and open innovation drive means creating ways in which our 5,000 people can perfect their technical expertise and interpersonal skills and sharpen their ability to anticipate clients’ future needs. And this is where Imagine comes in.

An innovation contest to spark new ideas and encourage cross-business collaboration

Launched on 5 March 2018 in partnership with the start-up Agorize, Assystem has created an in-house innovation contest to stimulate the imagination of all our people, leverage the extensive know-how that we have within the Group, encourage teamwork and recognise and reward outstanding ideas.
Everyone can take part in the contest via a collaboration platform. And it’s not just about technology – it can also be about improving internal processes or developing new services.
This collaborative approach is pursued during the contest’s assessment phases, with employees given the opportunity to support certain projects. And lastly, there will be a selection process based on the “pitch” model used by start-ups, organised by the Group’s top management. The overall objective is to select the most promising projects that can lead to new business services.

A laboratory for testing and jointly developing the solutions of the future

Another initiative aimed at embedding innovation at the heart of the Group’s culture is the creation of Imagine Lab. This structure will not only act as a support for in-house innovation projects but will also be a place for Assystem’s engineers to work in partnership with schools, universities, start-ups and clients to reflect on new issues and jointly invent new offers and solutions.
If we want to enhance our skills and expertise we can’t work behind closed doors or in silos. Imagine Lab is part of the Group’s efforts to create an open eco-system and it has already forged partnerships with a dozen other organisations in France including Les Arts et Métiers, INSA Lyon and Rouen, the ESIEA, the DataScience Institute and UTC.
In line with this same pragmatic and outward-looking approach, Imagine Lab is also participating in joint development projects with Assystem’s clients. One such example is ConneXiTy – an EDF R&D project aimed at measuring how digital transformation is impacting nuclear infrastructure. In tandem, it is involved in the SystemX Research and Technology Institute in Saclay, France through several innovation programmes concerning cybersecurity for Industry 4.0 in partnership with Engie, new transport on demand services in partnership with RATP and Alstom, and predictive maintenance in partnership with EDF.

A mindset that attracts

To sum up, Imagine is all about enabling us to fully understand what our clients need and, most importantly, to provide them with enlightened solutions. Our added value resides in developing methods and processes and orchestrating technologies to create value and new services for our clients.

The Imagine programme also has the twin objective of helping Assystem attract and retain the best talent and accelerating the Group’s business development. This means that it is essential to have inspiring projects that will spur young people to pave the way for our future. To this end, Imagine offers our future recruits exciting career paths and the opportunity to work on large-scale, international and multi-disciplinary projects to build on their experience, shape their future careers and become leaders in the engineering industry of the future.

Our current flagship innovation projects concern the development of new modular solutions to support our clients in their future projects for nuclear reactors, controlled radioactive environments and reconfigurable bio-production units. We are using these projects to stimulate cross-fertilisation between our experts and new arrivals and to explore the possibilities of interaction between BIM, PLM, robotics technology and artificial intelligence so we can offer new solutions to our clients and enable our people to be at the leading-edge of know-how and technology.

Another key focus for our development is predictive maintenance and we are working on researching and devising new diagnostics, analysis and fault detection methods as well as original approaches to optimising infrastructure maintenance phases, which combine the concepts of digital twins and artificial intelligence developed based on heterogeneous “big data” architectures.
In parallel, we are also of course working on R&D projects for systems resilience and artificial intelligence. We are highly aware that the nuclear, transport and life sciences sectors have a huge amount of documentary resources and that these resources are extremely under-used. Going forward, the challenges for our clients to be cost effective and gain a competitive edge will be to digitise these resources and to develop algorithms that can identify critical areas and carry out the qualification, testing and commissioning phases of projects or shape renewal policies.
And last, but by no means least, Imagine is a state of mind that we need to nurture in order to drive curiosity, inventiveness and motivation in everyone and to build up a dynamic approach to our business, with the underlying purpose of proving that innovation always creates value.

By Robert Plana, Assystem’s Chief Technology Officer

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Robert Plana

Chief Technical Officer Assystem

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