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Marvin moves towards a military model

For the last 25 years, Geotest has been a familiar name, but the company has relaunched itself recently and adopted a name based on its parent company - Marvin Group – which has particular strengths in the military and aerospace sectors.

"We are focusing on systems – not individual instruments," Steve Sargeant, ceo of Marvin Test Solutions, told New Electronics. "We need to supply turnkey systems – not just the cards, not just the software. We needed to take all of that away from the customer, from thermal management up, so they just need to plug it in and get going."

The market, particularly the defence market, has changed according to Sargeant: "The economic situation has taken its toll. A missile company with a test department is really just a missile company. It will still keep the test department, but has started to realise that it would be a lot more efficient if it could apply systems that would jump-start their work. After all, why should they do be doing the mechanics – assembling the racks of instruments – when they should be concentrating on the test programme software (TPS)? That is their forte and we can help them move faster and at less cost."

PXI still underpins everything the customer does. Sargeant asserted: "Our new [military] test sets are all ruggedised mil-spec PXI chassis underneath, so we are not walking away from PXI. In the design environment, it enables you to expand, to upgrade, to modify and to reuse."

Moreover, Sargeant believes that it is the flexibility of the platform that makes it perfect for the systems solutions that the new company is looking to offer. "When it comes to the willingness and the ability to customise, we outstrip all of our major competitors," he claimed "They have things like Boards and CFOs who count the investment, count the number of units sold – and they might not want to go down this path. But we do."

Although aerospace and military form the heritage of the Marvin Group, Sargeant believes the experience from this can be exported into other sectors. "We have done manufacturing in the past, primarily instruments, but what we are trying to do is raise our profile in those markets with systems solutions, much like we did with individual card solutions."

The systems approach lends itself to early involvement with design teams, particularly on the long lifecycle projects typical in the military sector.

Sargeant said: "We haven't just made an overnight change and, all of a sudden, everything is different. We have some customers that use our software through different parts of their test organisation, some have test instruments and systems that are used to design what is their forte, like missiles.

"Those companies might then ask us to design a system for test in maintenance and sustainment equipment to go with those systems. We are trying to compete at an earlier stage in large programmes so that we can be the test solutions company of choice from the very beginning. That will give us more opportunities to get involved at the start of the design phase.

"All the stuff in the test system we build, and that has not changed. We are not throwing out the baby with the bathwater – we are just changing the water."

Tim Fryer

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