Monday, 4 December 2017

Parallel Learning – UK Emergency Service Vehicles – Investment in Scaled Efficiencies for an Ever Broadening Multi-Task Spectrum

Part 5 : Metamorphic Modularisation
“Sketching-Out a Three Phase Future”

The six previous case studies of the modular ideology were obviously only a relative few instances, that have underpinned the modern world. Other examples abound.

Given the UK government's newly announced £44bn focus on the housing sector, a prosaic example of yesteryear was of course the “Pre-Fab” house in the post WW2 era, the quick solution to the need to house hundreds of thousands of people away from the devastation.

The speedy and cost-efficient basis of the “Pre-Fab” (ie pre-fabricated) building – whilst heavily influencing and favoured by much of Europe in very advanced structure – failed to make in-roads in the UK. This precisely because of the structure and interests of the domestic housing sector, from the deep intersection with Finance and Banking, the entrenched '30%-30%-30%' (10% contingency) business model of house-builders, reliance on heavy commodities (bricks, aggregates etc) much low-cost labour, and the sector's contribution to the FTSE 250. In effect a highly fragmented, and so incrementally value-adding process in which much value (ie profit) can be extracted.

Nonetheless, whilst this reality is entrenched in the deep foundations of the UK economy, new policy and CSR thinking for those people most marginalised (the homeless) should take place.

To this end, investment-auto-motives suggests that a policy be created which utilises old, disregarded yet sound shipping containers and detatchable 'Luton' box-van bodies be appropriated, modified and used as micro-homes to end dire suffering.

[NB It seems that BT Openreach (the wholesale comms division of the Group) have been discontinuing their now aged fleet of box-body vans, because of apparent events of fire caused by portions of the wooden internal structure of the box, leading to the humorous term 'the WickerVan' amongst fleet engineers. Unless BT seeks to recycle the sheet plastic, aluminium and extrusions, these bodies could be stripped of flammable internal materials and given to a dedicated charity for adaptation and in which to house the homeless far from the troublesome inner-city streets].

As corporations take on greater social inclination and responsibility, such initiatives for social improvement within western nations should become commonplace. The UK, Europe and North America suffers from often invisible heavy social deprivation which requires proper solutions, not just more formal charities; which appear to better serve their 'private-sector level' paid Directors, Managers and Staff – which is itself is highly alienating given the 'lifestyle chasm' to those in desperate need.

Importantly, ever since the advent of the 2008 Financial Crisis and its devastating effect upon the UK economy and society at large, the product philosophy of necessary re-use, new-use and long life-cycles for old and new products and their sub-components has become increasingly melded into the social and industrial consciousness.

To this end there needs to be a more holistic and long-termist perspective about the fundamental infrastructures of western society, this the prime argument posited herein regards a new modular age for the Emergency Service Vehicles. So as to underpin both the reduced costs of long-term government spending in this arena, and operate as a catalyst for broader change and advancement in public and private transport.

In order to appreciate the possibility for such a rational re-design of society we return to the most prolific military-industrial case study.

The Transfer of Military Learning -

The point to be made here is that the most efficient and effective combined military force in the world, the US Armed Forces is seen as a powerful template for the conceptualised idea of a highly technically capable national emergency services model – one that could be eventually rolled out world-wide.

And so it is only logical that in turn the philosophical template of the armed forces, along with that of the UN, and the 'imagineering' creativity shown by the creators of 'Thunderbirds' should be revisited to construct an enhanced future version of the UK's Emergency Services.

Although at first possibly viewed as seemingly overtly childish, simplistic and ridiculous the fact remains that the central element of the 'imagineering' that went into 'International Rescue' means that the TV show should indeed be used as a highly useful cultural reference when considering the expanded 'real-world' capabilities and increasingly advanced technical development of the Emergency Services.

Presciently then, whilst often intentionally sensationalist and far fetched, the story-lines of Thunderbirds - often requiring the application of hi-tech solutions - introduces the idea of a more systematic process approach toward the marriage of vehicle fleets and specific equipment needs.

The Dire Need For Long Term Planning -

The UK's national budget has been under immense pressure since 2008, the need for Qualitative Easing as a palliative measure (but adding massively to the debt over-hang and its deffered 're-balancing' date of now 2030) plus the reality of relatively slow economic growth within the global downturn from a low baseline, has meant that both the OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility), the Treasury / Chancellor of the Exchequer have all had to undertake a highly challenging financial balancing act between the 'fire-fighting' social needs of today and the mid to long-term economic health of the country.

Today we live in a world of what could be called 'Rationalised Keynsianism' whereby the high Keynesian costs of new and retro-fitted infrastructure planning/development, so as to drive up aggregate B2B and B2C demand, must - unlike the past when central government had the strength and ability to spend and spend - now be much 'Rationalised' by the involvement of far more “measured inputs and outputs” from private capital and commerce.

This process alone then extends and complicates the infrastructure planning time-frame.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the comparative industrial and economic might of the UK and West meant that high-ideal social projects could be conceptualised and delivered, from the railways of the 1850s to the NHS of the 1950s. Little matter that such grand schemes may have led to cost over-runs and delayed financial break-even, the ROI in respective financial and social terms was assured, whereby strong capital could rely upon a structured society and increasingly healthy and educated workforce.

Things are very different today, increasingly aged society, increasingly sick populace (medication rife across the age range from ADHD medicated children to socially disconnected, long seperated, alienated and rightly distrustful adults) and vitally an equally sick national 'structural debt' burden. A burden which (now as seen) extends the budget re-balancing by 15 years, from the initial 2015 to 2030.

It must only be hoped that the enormous levels of government debt raised will be used beyond the cash injection into the banks and also be effectively used to pump-prime and kick-start a new era in UK commerce.

One which re-invents British commerce and industry far beyond the trite examples of the internet of things seen so far and the extreme over-hype of truly autonomous cars. A model which vitally is directly connected to the rest of the world and indeed leads the world in proper PESTEL advancement.

Rarely has a society faced such endemic challenges yet all the while much of its youth and middle-aged been absorbed into the 'group narcissism' of identity politics fuelled by the media and social-media so as to feel “empowered”, the result has become social division, leading to a permanently “passive-aggressive” society, which has become increasingly dysfunctional.

That dream-scape ideal of Victorian sociologists which came into being with the advent of the largely unified mass middle-class has become but a distant memory for many, and the over-arching social ideology requires a fundamental 're-boot'.

Presently one (potentially dystopian) 'reboot' is being orientated by the increasingly omnipotent Big Tech companies, led by Alphabet-Google and its plans for the Toronto 'Keyside' area cyber-immersed redevelopment.”To rejuvinate the area” is the apparent mission-statement, without recognistion that the humans within it are essentially 'digitally-dependent' and themselves not autonomous beings, but effectively part of the machine, “ghosts in the machine”.

It also seems, that in a new era of slowly reduced Statism, that many central humanistic and sociological 'stakeholder' considerations will be the remit and remote responsibility of those powerful financial institutions (the biggest pension funds, insurance funds, investment funds etc) that operate as primary shareholders in new socio-technological ventures that shape the everyday. These with little or no political leanings; many of which are influenced by the non-partisan, socially lead Norwegian SWF – the biggest singular fund owner in the world.

Thus whilst infrastructure costs and 'pay back' periods will be scrutinised for each project, so increasingly is the real-world 'CSR' impact, from 'Emissions to Education' to ensure as broad an advantageous outcome as feasible.

Thus whilst there is much talk of “HS2” (itself paradoxical in the digital age but obviously serving construction sector – see previous comment) and ideology of the “Northern Powerhouse” as big tractive economic projects, the UK's corporate and political leadership must also look at the basics of society's everyday functional activities for substantive social improvement and financial re-balancing.

To this end, in an age of social fragmentation, much increased individual worry and stress and subsequent highly damaging behavioural outcomes, and wherein the social institutions of the past that promoted respect, discipline and meaningful learning (ie schools and universities) have become little more than containment and profit centres, perhaps the only remaining examples of the combined positive self and society is held within the social ideology of the combined Emergency Services and their innate moral precedence.

It is a moral lead which western societies desperately need to re-awaken, invoke and spread amongst its citizens so as to create social stability and overall advancement.

And it is only via compelling vison, new thinking, approaches, methods and technologies that this could and should be achieved.

The R+D Challenge -

Details behind the recent UK Budget highlighted the truth about Britain's position in the world of today and tomorrow, and given the seemingly never-ending televisual historical documentary boast about the country's past achievements as leaders of the Industrial Revolution, today compariative efforts appear pitiful.

As a comparison: even before advent of the autonomous vehicle, a typical auto-manufacturer needed to spend between 4-6% of its turnover on research and development, this the industrial norm.

Nations arguably have more need and inducement to operate at that level to create society's future, yet the UK ranked 13th out of 15 (largely western) countries in terms of Public R+D at 1.7%, marginally beating Italy and Spain, but far behind its best positioned counterparts which spend approximately 4.5% and 3.0%.

[NB combine the typically business connected efforts of the USA and Israel and the combined spending is near 7.0%; little wonder that Jewish-Americans seized the opportunities of the British invented internet for enormous financial gain whilst the rest of the world fell well behind in industrial terms].

Time indeed for Britain to recapture its industrial heritage and actually live-up to the eternal boast of past achievement.

The £2.5bn now made available for Innovation appears overtly small when compared to Housing's £44bn, so it will have to be directed very, very wisely.

Metamorphic Modularisation -

One such avenue is via an expansive re-design of the Emergency Service's mobile units infrastructure.

It seems that over the decades more than enough has been spent upon an ever bigger, sprawling and complex - and so operationally problematic - IT systems, which have absorbed enormous public funding and indeed rightly added to available information for those Responders on the street; whether Police Officers doing background checks, or Ambulance Para-Medics able to see the patient details of a 999 call from members of the public.

Yet in reality there comes a certain point of information overload or little added value to those on the ground, and thus greater expediency can be gained from a fundamental redesign of the major physical parts of the system itself.

A more rationalised and systemic approach which demands that strategic attention be turned toward the physically mobile entities themselves, not simply the digital communications system.

As illustrated previously, past evolution of the Police, Ambulance and Fire-Rescue depended upon the re-shaping reaction of watershed events (eg the Blitz) to create adequate entities, but this is reactionary and slow when foresight and proactivity is obviously required.

Thus a 'Big Picture' plan is required to serve the remainder of the 21st century.

A fundamental aspect of this being a new totem or system pillar of Service Re-configurable and Mixed Use Core Fleet “Van and Pod” Vehicle Infrastructure(s).

The attached graphic by investment-auto-motives simplistically depicts such a future regards basic 'Van and Pod' architectures, named 'Metamorphic Modularisation' or indeed 'Metamorphic Metropolitan Modularisation' ('3M')

[NB this done to deliberately invoke the innovative icon that is the moveable 3M Post-It-Note, itself oblong and florescent, and so akin to an EMS vehicle, aswell as a major producer of chemical-bonding solutions for many variants of vehicle bodies, from coach-built van-bodies to helicopter airframes].

The key aspect is to view the Module Box as of prime importance, given the role the space muct play to maximise cost and efficiency and the unrecognised enormous potential for the continued evolution of duty-assist equipment, propelled by much from the IoT (Internet of Things) to proper ergonomics to make the Responder or Respond Group more able.

Those groups spanning: Police, Ambulance, Fire-Rescue and the possibility of an additional (light Para-Military like) Civilian Assist which can be deployed for unusual and extreme major events, beyond the everyday and specialised remit of the standard three Services.

The basis then is of a Standardised Module System which can be Task Re-Configured and is Future-Proofed in its construction to befit the conventional industry evolution and deliberately UK EMS designed evolution of the Prime-Mover vehicles, their changing drive-train types (ICE to Hybrid to all Electric) and on-board power supply distribution (from 12V to 48V).

The basic graphic spans a time-line that starts after initial research studies and prototyping, and is set in 3 Phases.

Phase 1 :
Spans from 2025 to 2035

A basic redesign of standard van chassis-cabs from Ford, Renault (also badged Vauxhall, FIAT and of course Nissan), VW, Mercedes-Benzand Peugeot-Citroen, that deploys repositioned  lower mounted rear chassis rails onto which the Module is positioned. This provides for greater standard headroom and so usability, and echoes the changes made to passenger cars in the 1920s and 1930s and to buses in the 1970s and 2000s, and the be. larger class of European campervan conversion companies.

This a relatively low-cost alteration by the manufacturer, requiring a frame-rail stagger and so localised strengthening.

Additionally the design by manufacturer and client would focus upon the mating system for Module Placement and Removal between Box and Van. With also the potential Addition of a separate Trailer Module attached via standard tow-bar, NATO-hitch or A-frame , so providing for the ability to simultaneously deploy 2 complementary Modules.

NB. The fundamental design of the Module 'future-proofed' so as to be the vital and foremost item to which  future power-units are attached.

Otherwise the vehicle appears as normal, with the expected introduction of Hybrid drive by manufacturers for Diesel and Petrol engines, and the possibility of 4WD with inclusion of a electrically-driven rear axle (PSA having led this trend with its 3008 model)

Phase 2 :
Spans from 2035 to 2050

A radical redesign of vehicle architecture, with the van now operating as a smaller scale Tractor-Trailer unit. The van becomes a highly manouvreable short wheel-base 'Traction Head' consisting of of motor and short 3-abreast cabin, pulling the Module Box.

At this stage the inclusion of additional 'Extendor' units attached either front, rear, or both; so expanding the available capacity of the single Module.

The option is to put the Module Box on its own unpowered wheels front and rear to create a 'rolling chassis' or to use a smaller-scale conventional tractor-trailer hitch system.

This mimics the carrying methods seen between the 1920s and 1960s by ports and industry in Germany and the UK, and at airports today, wherein the 'traction-head' (then the likes of a Scammell Scarab) would act as a 'tug' to the separate wagon.

Phase 3 :
Spans from 2050 onward

A radical redesign from today, but natural evolution from the Phase 2 model. Herein the Module again takes even greater precedence, itself the core body to which a medium-sized powered 'Head' and /or 'Tail' is attached to provide propulsion in either 2WD or 4WD forms.

These units being the standard dimensions of the previous 'Extendor' unit, with Both 'Head' and 'Tail' providing all-electric drive (hence pure EV) and providing steering to either front, rear or both.

The latter especially useful for cornering when the Module Box is lengthened (ie configured with 'Extendors' front and rear).

Funding :
An 'off-the-cuff' structure:
Phase 1 : 40% Central Government, 40% Municipal Gov't, 20% Private Capital
Phase 2 : 40% Central Gov't, 20% Municiple Gov't (gradual decline), 40% Private Capital.
Phase 3 : gradual decline of Gov't sources to 100% PFI by 2050.

The Past Informs the Future -

Historically, many if not most new technological eras begin with the dedication of government to both affect change and to later via PFI (Private Finance Initiatives) to attract capital from the financial markets. This achieved through direct seed and incubation funding or via any necessary parliamentary clearance; and indeed both undertaken simultaneously.

In recent decades both the information revolution that is the internet and eco-technology advancements have been often essentially created and initially supported by the state; from academic labs to directly injected exploratory innovation grants.

This seen yet again today with the grant selection and approval process behind the former automotive element of the Technical Strategy Board, leading to 'Catapult' activities. The analytical outcomes of which have led to the nurturing of Driverless/Autonomous Vehicles in two development hub locations: Milton Keynes (private 2 persons transit) and Greenwich (public 10 persons transit).

The point to be made here is that unlike the US (with its far better connected banking-business-industrial leadership) the UK continues to be largely reactive in its innovation stance (very much led by the USA), not proactive, as it must.

And so inevitably lags behind.

This situation, oft told wherein the best of British innovation either stagnates or is 'stolen by' (ie the opportunity taken by) America, has to be reversed; especially now that the UK looks to the rest of the world for its future for new 'special relationships'.

Conclusion -

Given the complexity of tasks dealt with by Police, Ambulance and Fire-Rescue services, those in Whitehall with ultimate long-term policy creation, implementation and budget responsibility for the Emergency Services should recognise that it is high time for a well considered “back to the drawing board” approach.

So as to provide substantive long-term performance and costs improvement and to draw upon the planning, design, engineering and delivery expertise of UK plc to do so.

As seen previously, there are many influences that can and should be drawn upon, not least:

- Military
- Commerce
- Yesteryear Public Projects
- Popular Culture

Yes, the vital aspect of 'Modularisation' of the Emergency Services may at first appear overtly clinical or indeed militaristic, but the devout rationality of a military mindset behind the scenes does not need equate to a seemingly paramilitary presence in urban, suburban, provincial and rural areas.

[NB though the addition of a 'civil defence force' (possibly beginning as an expanded Territorial Army staffed by volounteer civilian “brigades” would strengthen disaster relief reaction and capability]

Of course the gains to be had from ever enhanced IT systems and better systems integration will continue to appear attractive and so gain budgetary backing, but the Emergency Services are a front-line operation, dependent upon people and their machinery. And just as information processes can be streamlined, so should much that is understood as the overtly practical.

All that is sits within the digital realm may be viewed as the glamourous arena for productivity improvement, but it has finite limits, and as such inevitably much reduced “units of marginal return” from ever additional expenditure.

In the end, it is the intersection between the people and their hardware that actually gets things done.

Now is the time that organisational leaderships of the Constabularies, Ambulance Services and Fire-Rescue – both separately as distinctly nationally combined singular forces and indeed combined mixed-forces – make a concerted effort to investigate various scenarios regards the physical 'shape of things to come' from the mid-term horizon onward.

Just how much a 'Metamorphic Modularised' system could vastly revolutionise and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of what is presently a very fragmented legacy-bound system must be explored in detail and with true independence.

Over the next 5 years we will continue to see the monies borne from Quantitative Easing trickle-down into UK commerce. The ongoing low interest rate environment providing a low-cost backdrop to what should be a new-era, next-step change that should see PFI projects expand beyond the standard strictures of rail, road, housing, education etc.

Privately invested British industry reacted to the 1956 Suez Crisis with the emergence of the 'modularised' 1959 Mini (with its radically re-invented packaging, external body seams and rotisserie production). And simultaneously saw the launch of a radically innovative public investment with the advent of the 'modularised' Routemaster Bus. Both of which thanks to wise mixed planning of private and public transport transformed the everyday life of the masses.

The McMillan led Conservative government won the 1959 general election for its third term in office, in no small part thanks to the vitality and ingenuity of a much revived British industry able to react to big-picture issues with the knowledge of political and expected economic stability.

The general base rate during the 1950s was between 2 – 4% and see what was achieved.

Today we sit at an historically unprecedented base rate low – which theoretically should induce a massive impetus for low cost borrowing toward investment in major public and private 'social transformation' projects.

More necessary today than since the end of WW2 given the enormous eco-socio-economic challenges in our midst : climate change, ongoing social deprivation, the wealth chasm between the 'haves' and 'have nots', and the still very anaemic general economy.

Timely then that the ”IR” public-good edict of 'International Rescue' was morphed with the “IR” acronym of 'Investor Relations'.

The UK's Industrial Strategy requires not simply growth-sector identification and backing ranging across the bio-sciences and artificial intelligence, but the re-application of critical human intelligence regards the updating of the man-made systemic world we live within.

As ever, investment-auto-motives continues to provide the thought leadership to do so.