Frequentis AG: Global market leader through standards

Building global market leadership on standards

Frequentis, Vienna
Credit: Frequentis

Implementation of NASA's Mission Operations Voice Enhancement (MOVE) programme. Set-up of the first IP network for air traffic control in France. Establishment of an integrated control centre for London's Metropolitan Police. Supply of air traffic control communication systems for aircraft carriers of the US Navy. Design and installation of an integrated voice and data communication system for the die Canadian Coast Guard.

The order books of Austrian Frequentis AG read like a "best of" list of global communications projects.

Given a market share of 30 percent, the Viennese high-tech company is the global market leader for voice communication systems for air traffic control and in the field of aeronautical information management. Achieving such a great success as a supplier of communication and information solutions in safety-critical areas requires not only extensive technological know-how, innovativeness and entrepreneurial initiative but also reliable standards.

"For a globally active company like Frequentis AG, it would be difficult to develop products that have to be integrated with other systems and into the customers' technical infrastructure if there were no standards," says Stefan Arrocker who is in charge of quality management at Frequentis. "This already applies to the mechanical installation of components and even more to the communication protocols that are extremely important in our industry and further extends to the quality of the management processes used."

Safety-relevant control centre solutions

Control centre solutions
Credit: Frequentis

For more than 65 years, Frequentis has designed, installed and maintained safety-critical applications, mainly in the field of control centre solutions. These include air traffic control centres and towers, control rooms for rail traffic, control centres for shipping or dispatch centres for police, fire and ambulance services but also military command centres.

To ensure the required information security both in the organization as well as in products and projects, the enterprise has an information security management system certified according to ISO/IEC 27001. Key elements include the complete analysis, assessment and management of risks.

Safety management as corporate culture

Safety modelling
Credit: Frequentis

"At Frequentis, safety management is an elementary component of processes – this requires a high level of safety awareness of each and every employee involved in creating products. The impact of a failure of our products in productive operation may be critical in some cases. To predict potential failures of complex systems, appropriate safety modelling is performed. As a result, we can identify, check and evaluate all options for improving safety in all phases of product and project planning, in design, development and maintenance," explains quality manager Arrocker.

Thus, it is virtually a matter of course that Frequentis also works and is certified in accordance with the standards ÖNORM EN ISO 9001 (quality management) and ÖNORM EN ISO 14001 (environmental management). In addition, the enterprise applies a high number of industry-specific standards, such as EUROCAE documents standardizing aviation systems in whose development Frequentis also was and is significantly involved.

Standards drive development and secure future

Stefan Arrocker of Frequentis
Stefan Arrocker, Credit: Frequentis

Frequentis builds on normative documents for several reasons. "With its capacity for innovation and technical expertise, Frequentis seeks to actively ensure that approaches to potential solutions are in full compliance with standards and regulatory measures. However, 'setting standards' is not just a powerful driver of development, but it gives Frequentis’s customers the security of knowing that they are investing in a future-oriented system," states the most recent annual report of the company.

"Of course, many customers already demand compliance with specific standards in their requests for proposal. Exact specifications are extremely important for successful co-operation," says Stefan Arrocker.

"Processes and products conforming to selected standards also constitute a USP in many markets and thus, give us a competitive edge. Therefore, our proposals usually point out the standard systems used and the related certificates we hold."

New ISO standard on collaborative relationships

Recently Frequentis also became involved in the international standardization of management processes. In ISO's Technical Committee 286, representatives of the company contribute to the definition of a standard on the management of collaborative business relationships. This work item was initiated by the British Standards Institution (BSI) where this subject is already covered in the British standard BS 11000.

"Because Frequentis AG already manages selected customer relationships according to BS 11000 and indeed meets its requirements in practice, it was a logical step to make available our know-how – both in Austria and at the international level – for the development of a corresponding international standard," Arrocker describes the underlying motivation.

Austrian mirror committee

Representatives of Frequentis at AS
Stefan Arrocker and Christian Dorner of Frequentis with Austrian Standards' Karl Grün

The new standard, for which Committee 129 "Quality management systems" of Austrian Standards serves as the Austrian mirror committee, is to provide specifications for the relevant aspects of collaborative business relationships – from the selection of the right partner and the definition and documentation of objectives to a potential exit strategy.

In addition to terminology, it addresses the processes and symbols used in such quality management systems as well as working procedures. This gives Frequentis once again the opportunity to input its own expertise in standardization.

As Stefan Arrocker explains, "our customers increasingly demand systematized evidence of the professional management of relationships with partners. We already apply this in practice according to BS 11000, but a corresponding ISO standard allows us to credibly document world-wide that we expertly manage these aspects in line with the state of the art, too."

About Frequentis

Frequentis AG develops and distributes information and communication systems for safety-critical solutions for air traffic management (civil and military air traffic control, air defence) and public safety & transport (police, fire and emergency medical services, shipping, railways).

The Austrian high-tech company is the global market leader for voice communication systems for air traffic control and in the field of aeronautical information management. With its more than 1,200 employees world-wide, the group achieved an operating performance of € 195 million in 2013.

The systematic use of international standards also contributes to the success of the enterprise. Frequentis AG holds numerous patents and actively participates in the development of standards.

Author: Herbert Hirner