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8tree Scores with dentCHECK2, dentCHECK-as-a-Service

Arun Sivasankaran - : Dec 20, 2023 - : 3:19 am

A calculated gamble taken during the pandemic has paid off handsomely for 8tree, a company that makes 3D optical surface inspection tools for aviation and other industries.

Going against conventional wisdom that saw most companies all over the world save money and wait for the storm to pass, 8tree decided to be brave in the face of adversity. “When Covid hit, we went all in,” says Arun Chhabra, company CEO and co-founder. “It may have looked foolish at that point of time to some people, but we knew that it was not a matter of if but when the market would come back. We decided to take advantage of that period of pause and continue investing and invest heavily, as we always have, in R&D and growing our team. We nearly doubled our global team size during the pandemic.”

8tree’s dentCHECK is the world’s only handheld-portable, completely wireless 3D scanner tool with integrated AR that is purpose-built for the aviation maintenance industry. Recognized by Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer, the tool is used by carriers and MROs across the commercial, military, cargo and business aviation sectors. dentCHECK helps operators to assess airframe damage up to 90% faster and with 35x greater measurement accuracy and consistency than traditional methods, this reducing turn-around-times and boosts operational efficiency. dentCHECK users include American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Lufthansa Technik and HAECO.

dentCHECK2 – Lighter and Smaller

With the aviation industry bustling again, the company is reaping the rewards for sensing an opportunity when confronted with a challenge. Before the pandemic, 8tree’s primary focus was on selling the dentCHECK tool. Since then, it has expanded in size and scope significantly and now offers dentCHECK-as-a-Service – on-demand dent-mapping to the global aviation industry. Earlier this year, the company also unveiled the next generation dentCHECK2, which is more compact and lighter than the original tool. Among the other advantages of dentCHECK2 are built-in LTE connectivity, zero setup time and a streamlined UX.

“We have a ten-year track record of building a tool that the industry defined,” says Chhabra. “In doing so, we delivered a measurement capability and a measurement engine that the industry has now come to recognize and trust. With dentCHECK2, we build on our core principles of simplicity, usability and efficiency. It is an identical measurement engine with additional goodness. dentCHECK2, which is about 30 percent lighter and 30 percent smaller, enables us to deliver instantly actionable precision 3D measurements within seconds, at the push of a single button.”

dentCHECK2 has evoked a great response from the industry, says Chhabra. “We have a couple of launch customers that have been putting this to very rigorous trials and giving us feedback for almost a year now. This is not something that we are waiting for the market to test. Both products, dentCHECK and dentCHECK2, will co-exist.”

Another Option for Customers

The company’s dentCHECK-as-a-Service (daaS) business has really taken off in recent months, says Leonard Buck, Marketing Manager at 8tree. “We have seen increasing demand for hail damage mapping. They really struggle to map these dents; it takes weeks to do that. With dentCHECK, it can be done in a matter of days. We fly out and do hail mapping as a service. We do it ourselves and also have service partners on board around the world.”

dentCHECK-as-a-Service business, which has companies such as VS Aviation, AMROS Global and Flying Colours Aviation as service partners, is ideal for companies that do not want to buy the tool but wants to benefit from the service nevertheless. The service has been used mostly by aircraft leasing companies and those dealing with bad weather events, says Chhabra.

“There are 2,500 commercial aircraft that change ownership every calendar year. Every change of ownership, they need to map the aircraft nose to tail. Time is of the essence. We are building a global network of proven service partners. They do the inspection with our tools. Over the cloud, we receive the scans and quickly create digitized reports that OEMs are accustomed to reviewing. It helps the leasing companies as well as the hail damage aircraft operators reduce turnaround time significantly.”

dentCHECK-as-a-Service is still in its infancy, says Chhabra. “We have enabled the mapping of about 10 aircraft ranging from narrowbody, to wide body to even business jets. In the course of that, we have mapped over 10,000 dents just in the dentCHECK-as-a-Service activity. Each aircraft had about 1,000-1,500 dents. What our customers and their end customers have told us is that that would have normally taken them about two months. By using the dentCHECK service offer, it was done in a matter of days. Ten business days and they are informed and equipped to take action.”

Chhabra expects the service part of the company’s business to grow significantly. “Services will at some point become an equivalent size business or even eclipse the sale of units,” he says. “A major reason is that services are going to be a recurring thing. The large brand names that have manpower, capabilities and internal tech teams will want to buy the tool. They have the operational rhythm and predictability to know when it is going to be used and how frequently. There is a sizable portion of the market that are small, mid-size MROs; they will want to use dentCHECK-as-a-Service.”

8tree stands out from other 3D scanning companies, says Buck. “There is nothing like dentCHECK in the market. With it, you get results instantly projected onto the surface. One click and you get the result. With other 3D scanning companies, you need to transfer the scan data to the laptop and then you need a highly specialized person to process the point clouds. That takes time. dentCHECK is very application-specific; you can do dents, bumps, and lighting strikes. Whatever we can do, we are able to do very fast and precisely.”

The company has seen a marked increase in the number of customers in recent times. “Right now, we sit at close to five dozen customers globally between airlines, MROs, OEMs and Tier I suppliers to OEMs,” says Buck. There are over 150 tools being used by these players out there. Two years ago, that number was a dozen or a dozen and a half less.”

Military Customers

Among the company’s new customers is the U.S. Air Force. “Our proven track record on the commercial side is one of the major reasons why we have been able to attract military customers,” says Chhabra. “The problems to the airframe are the same; maybe you could even argue that they are even worse in the case of military aircraft as they go to the battlefield. Our desire for the longest time was to enable the warfighter to be more effective on the battlefield and to get back to action quicker. The German Air Force and the Australian Air Force are also using dentCHECK.”

Even as it works to accelerate growth, 8tree, which has offices in Los Angeles Area and Dallas (US), Konstanz (Germany), and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), has undertaken an academic initiative aimed at wooing young people into the field of aviation maintenance.

“We equip aviation schools with dentCHECK for them to integrate the tool into their academic curriculum, “ says Chhabra. “That way, the students will know the kind of technologies they are going to encounter when they join the workforce. This hopefully attracts the youth to the schools. Last year, we had Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University as the launch school. We have a few more schools in the pipeline. The goal is to do this globally. The academic initiative is not something we make money off; it is purely us trying to enable a sustainable future for the industry.”


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