In addition to our analytical marketing skills, clients also value the ability to see and interpret for themselves the unfiltered comments discovered during research efforts with both existing and potential customers. Product developers and engineering managers often find new insights – little nuggets of qualitative gold – in our reports.
Here's one example from the more than 250 projects we’ve done in technical B2B markets.
Overhaul Specialist for an aircraft maintenance firm on the subject of detecting fatigue & tiny cracks in metals. (Context: phone interview.) The magneto optical imaging technology discussed here was identified as an emerging threat in 2005 to eddy current testers made by our client, Zetec Inc.
“A company here in Torrance, California has developed a system called Magneto Optical Imaging. What it does is uses the principle that when you put light rays through a magnetic field, they turn at 90 degree angles to the lines of flux. So you can actually get a realtime visual picture of the interior of a wheel. They use it on aircraft skins. They started out using eddy current to verify the rivet holes, the area around rivet holes. You could see where fatigue would build up and crack and the skin would start to break away from the rivet hole. Eddy current was a perfect method of checking for that. But the tedium after you do 300 rivets, your eyeballs ache, your back hurts, you can't hardly hold the probe. The human factor was so debilitating that it really wasn't reliable.”
“The MOI technology came out and you just take this thing that looks like a high beam light and it has a white disk on it and you just touch it to the skin of the aircraft and just slowly go over the surface and there's a big scope there and you can see, in real time, you can see the cracks in it. When you see a crack, you stop, you mark it. American Airlines uses it when they do C and D checks on fuselages. It really speeds it up (maintenance checks) and makes it reliable. You can see different layers, you can see corrosion through if you sandwich -- a lot of aircrafts' parts are sandwiched where you have two/three layers with mastic -- and you'll have other types of preservative in the joint and you can see everything with that stuff.”
“I even sent a wheel one time to a company called PRI (which has MOI technology)…. I sent them a wheel that had a crack we found with eddy current. They sent me back a videotape and it showed me the actual indication of the crack. I was able to gauge the size of it, the location, the depth ... everything. It was very cool. It's only limitation, just like eddy current, the probe has to be in contact with the surface. And if it has any convolutions or any radiuses it doesn't work very well.”
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