RiCK™ is used by Ricardo experts in the Technology Strategy team when they conduct research, to locate knowledge and information they need to solve problems for clients in the automotive and transport sectors. We interviewed Marvin Tchamillar so that he could provide an overview of his knowledge gathering process and how he approaches research at the beginning of a project. Here’s an overview of the Q&A with Marvin.
What kind of projects do you work on with your clients?
Our clients are usually automotive companies, suppliers of automotive manufacturers and energy companies that develop chemicals or lubricants for the automotive and transport sector. Companies approach the Ricardo Technology Strategy team when they want to plan what they might do in the next 5, 10 or 15 years. For example, we may work together with a client to figure out how their next-generation technology and products will comply with oncoming legislation. Our clients may come to us and ask questions like, ‘Should we do it?’ or ‘How can it be done?’ If one scenario is not possible, what is the alternative?
The team is made up of experts with different disciplines, I’m a mechanical engineer, but the team has multiple experts including material engineers, software engineers and experts in embedded electronics. The team have experience of executing engineering research in labs, but in our current roles, we couple that knowledge and experience with commercial acumen and a strategic view. We seek to understand how those very early seedlings of scientific developments can grow into profitable ventures in the future.
How might you start technical research when you are working with a client to develop future products?
Almost all of our projects require knowledge-gathering, and usually, we’re looking for information that isn’t readily available with a quick Google Search. Within Ricardo, one of the ways we can undeniably add value when gathering knowledge is that we have easy access to a range of in-house technical experts. I can literally walk downstairs, tap someone on the shoulder and ask a question. Our experts can give you very precise information, and they are amazing at what they do. We are currently collating an insight hub within RiCK that collates thought leadership from our Ricardo experts. There is a collection of Ricardo's own content available within RiCK. That’s one route to gather information, but even our experts need to keep up to date with the changing market.
When we research, the initial instinct might be to use Google search, but the problem is that Google is full of noise, the signal to noise ratio is too high for me to find what I need quickly. There is often an overwhelming amount of information, and it may have been interpreted from its source two, three or four times.
The type of announcements made by developers in an industry conference doesn’t usually filter down to Google or Google.scholar. A lot of the information we use might come from engineering conferences, seminars and webinars. We don’t trawl all of the different journals and scientific papers that have been produced because it takes too long. The primary research tool for me is RiCK™, and I also get a daily feed from RiCK™ news to keep up with the latest industry developments. RiCK™ has the best signal to noise ratio for me.
Can you give me an example of a brief you might try and research via RiCK™?
One of our latest projects involves consulting with automotive manufacturers in Asia. They have asked us to look at how the electric charging infrastructure is evolving in Europe and the US. As part of the research for this, we wanted to investigate all of the potential ways of charging electric vehicles.
For example, wireless charging is one method that is currently being explored and developed. There are companies actively trying to develop the final products that they are going to launch to market. We wanted to gather information on the standards people are adhering to and the latest developments that people are aiming to align to. Some of the advanced level technologies are published in technology journals, or they may be announced via other publications or conferences. RiCK™ is really useful for a project like this as you can quickly collate abstracts that lists the information available from those different sources including publications, journals, press releases and conferences.
How easy was it for you to use RiCK™, and would you recommend it to others?
It’s effortless for me to access RiCK™ - I perform a search and download the abstracts and media - I can quickly scan through them and find out which reports are the most relevant and how I can easily access them. I can often get right to the information I’m looking for within an hour. Another useful feature is that you can download references automatically. In our reports, we always declare the sources of information we have used to act as evidence of our thought process. These are reliable information sources which often come directly from developers themselves so being able to quote these references adds substance to the reporting and research we do. Sometimes we may have over 100 references that need to be included and listed in order. So being able to automate this saves so much time.
I would recommend it to others because it reduces time needed to locate the information you need and it’s a tool that can help you easily find out how the industry is developing, what is new and how the market might evolve or is already changing. You can easily find the latest conference announcements relevant to the specific technical field you are researching. I also think it’s useful for academics who are working with the industry.
How often do you use RiCK?
I use RiCK™ at the start of every new project, and in Technology Strategy the length or our projects vary - it could be from one to six months or more. At the beginning of a project, I do very extensive research using RiCK™. If we start by getting all of the relevant available information in relation to a problem that already exists, it’s an efficient use of time. Our projects are technically rich, but there is also commercial thinking involved, and RiCK™ helps us connect all of the dots when we are beginning to create a solution. I conduct several searches on RiCK throughout a project, I may be working on a one month or six month project, but I always conduct several searches. Our information experts are consistently adding new abstracts to the database too, and we also advise what type of sources of information we would like to see included.
Find out more about RiCK™ 2.0.