Boosting innovation

‘Technology has always had my interest. It’s in my genes. For years I have been driving rallies with my father in our 1935 Singer Le Mans. The old technology is fa-sci-na-ting. The Singer has a double clutch. When you want to change gears, you need to press the clutch, put it in neutral, accelerate slightly and then move the gear up or down. And that whilst the roundabout is getting nearer and nearer. Are you following me? That I would study at the TU Delft was logical. And way before I had passed my final exams, I already knew that I wanted to work for KLM.’

Arlette did her graduation project at KLM. Her research question was: how can airlines innovate by working together with start-ups. She has been with KLM for 4 years now, at the Transformation Office, specifically at the Radical-Innovation-team. ‘We try to promote innovation at the divisions of KLM that are struggling with innovation. I was involved with Cargo colleagues and a start-up to introduce a volume scanner. That is a machine that measures the dimensions of a pallet that enters the warehouse. A computer can then calculate where the pallet can best be positioned in the aircraft, as efficiently possibly, a sort of Tetris, but then larger.’

Boosting innovation

‘Technology has always had my interest. It’s in my genes. For years I have been driving rallies with my father in our 1935 Singer Le Mans. The old technology is fa-sci-na-ting. The Singer has a double clutch. When you want to change gears, you need to press the clutch, put it in neutral, accelerate slightly and then move the gear up or down. And that whilst the roundabout is getting nearer and nearer. Are you following me? That I would study at the TU Delft was logical. And way before I had passed my final exams, I already knew that I wanted to work for KLM.’

Arlette did her graduation project at KLM. Her research question was: how can airlines innovate by working together with start-ups. She has been with KLM for 4 years now, at the Transformation Office, specifically at the Radical-Innovation-team. ‘We try to promote innovation at the divisions of KLM that are struggling with innovation. I was involved with Cargo colleagues and a start-up to introduce a volume scanner. That is a machine that measures the dimensions of a pallet that enters the warehouse. A computer can then calculate where the pallet can best be positioned in the aircraft, as efficiently possibly, a sort of Tetris, but then larger.’

Blue Virus

Arlette’s choice to work for KLM was specifically driven by her study choice. ‘KLM is one of a few players that has such a big impact on aviation. Adding its historical value, the brand, the huge diversity in colleagues.... The combination of a lot of these factors makes working for “the blues” attractive. ‘Yes, I have also been infected with the “blue virus” that is called KLM.’

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Social innovation

For decades the daily routine of KLM revolves around an efficient operation. Arlette: ‘Innovation is then sometimes forgotten. Yet innovation is necessary. The market continuously changes at a rapid pace and as company we really must look towards the future’. At the moment Arlette is working on the innovation strategy for Air France-KLM Cargo: what are the current trends and what are the future technologies, also concerning social innovation? ‘You can implement high tech equipment such as advanced robotics, but if now one knows how to use them, you have a gap in knowledge and skills’, Arlette explains.

Social innovation

For decades the daily routine of KLM revolves around an efficient operation. Arlette: ‘Innovation is then sometimes forgotten. Yet innovation is necessary. The market continuously changes at a rapid pace and as company we really must look towards the future’. At the moment Arlette is working on the innovation strategy for Air France-KLM Cargo: what are the current trends and what are the future technologies, also concerning social innovation? ‘You can implement high tech equipment such as advanced robotics, but if now one knows how to use them, you have a gap in knowledge and skills’, Arlette explains.

Old and new world unite

Innovation is always paired with friction. The average age of a KLM employee is quite high. During innovation projects the new world enters the old world and according to Arlette, that does sometimes create some resistance. ‘But I enjoy to see what happens when the colleagues who eventually work with the new innovation see what the possibilities are with new technology. We cannot innovate without them. We need to make sure that we carry over the knowledge of the current employees to the 21st century. It’s already there. Let’s make use of it. I find it an extremely honourable job.’

Old and new world unite

Innovation is always paired with friction. The average age of a KLM employee is quite high. During innovation projects the new world enters the old world and according to Arlette, that does sometimes create some resistance. ‘But I enjoy to see what happens when the colleagues who eventually work with the new innovation see what the possibilities are with new technology. We cannot innovate without them. We need to make sure that we carry over the knowledge of the current employees to the 21st century. It’s already there. Let’s make use of it. I find it an extremely honourable job.’