We have an ‘always-on’ focus on R&D at OxTS, and we’re continuously looking ahead, questioning, challenging and exploring. But we don’t just innovate for innovation sake, we do so to make a difference. Our people are some of the most knowledgeable experts in the field, and just as importantly, they care. Here, Mark Batchellier, Application Engineering Manager at OxTS tells us about a ‘day in his life’:
1. How long have you worked at OxTS, and have you experienced many changes during your time with the Company?
I joined OxTS in December 2019, so about 18 months. Like all companies globally, the biggest changes I’ve experienced this past year have been Covid related. Our product development relies on the collaboration of many individuals across different departments in the company, so learning to rely on technology and work remotely from each other was challenging.
I’ve always managed the Application Engineering (AE) team and worked with customers to modify the system for their specific needs. But recently, in a change to my role, I have added responsibility for long term, more speculative, exploration into new technologies. So interestingly, I am looking at both ends of the development spectrum, and another team is looking after the incremental development of our products.
2. What does a ‘typical’ day at work look like for you, as OxTS’ Application Engineering Manager?
As the AE team was designed to respond to customers’ needs in a timely manner it is difficult to say what a ‘typical’ day involves. But the things I am doing at any given time can be working with customers or prospects to define the changes they require of the system; discussing new technologies with our engineers and creating projects to investigate these; and the scheduling of work to the right people, and then making changes as priorities shift.
As part of the Engineering Department management team, I am also involved in making sure our processes are fit for purpose and responding to challenges that arise outside of the technical arena. One example of this was taking the lead on the initial engineering planning for Covid during the early months of 2020, to ensure we could continue to function as a business throughout the uncertainty and respond flexibly to changing governmental advice.
3. Which of the projects you’ve been involved with so far has been the most satisfying and why?
I am extremely proud to have been involved in the recent indoor testing work we took on for one of our customers, Mira, to allow them to use our system in their multi-story car park. The environment provided no GNSS coverage, which is one of the cornerstones of our classic INS solutions.
The project had a tight deadline and initially involved a lot of exploration and negotiation into what we should supply. We worked with Mira to understand how we could get everything they needed, while prioritising certain features so they were able to utilise their new facility asap.
Phase one became the implementation of the system on one floor of the car park, using an ultra-wideband (UWB) system we had been investigating with a technology partner, so we already had growing knowledge of how to provide the required service. Phase two will be enabling data capture throughout the rest of the car park floors, including ramps and transitions from indoor to outdoor.
This project epitomised the OxTS ethos of solving our customers’ problems, utilising the great engineering skills we have in house and finding a solution within the customers’ budget and deadline.
4. What’s the most challenging thing about being an OxTS Application Engineering Manager and how do you manage this?
The most challenging thing, and the most enjoyable from my perspective, is the number of projects going on at any one time and shear scope of them in technical complexity. These can range from a simple GUI change on one of our software products to investigations into emerging technologies.
A key aspect of the job is managing the team. We have young and enthusiastic team members who need a little guidance – and perhaps even restraining – from time to time, as they are keen to solve every problem at once. My role involves making sure that our efforts are aligned with the other departments and sales targets to protect the future of the business, while at the same time giving the engineers the type of work that complements their current skill set, but also allows them to expand this into new and exciting areas. Not always easy!
5. What do you enjoy most about being part of the OxTS team?
The best thing about being part of OxTS is the friendly environment. This allows me to feel comfortable asking for help when needed, from anyone, knowing that if they can’t personally help, they will suggest who may be able to, or where I might find the answer to my question.
The company includes people from all walks of life and allows us to explore our potential in many different ways. Knowledge transfer between the technical teams is encouraged, as well as external training, for example helping to expand my admin and management skills.
In short, it is great to work for a company that not only says that it values it’s staff, but shows it in many practical ways, including recently introducing a mental health first aid team. They are always available for a chat, and devise things to help everyone cope with the stresses and strains of life.
6. What are you most looking forward to in the year ahead at OxTS?
Firstly, getting back into the office and working face-to-face with my team mates. Remote working is adequate but not ideal for the very collaborative way we work. Also we have missed out a lot on the social side and banter that comes when you’re all working hard to build the next ‘great thing’.
I am also really looking forward to seeing the full indoor testing solution working, as this is the first major end-to-end project I have been involved with for OxTS, and it has involved a lot of people from OxTS, the customer and our technology partner. So it will be nice to see everyone’s hard work come to fruition.
- Read this article to learn more about the OxTS’ indoor testing solutions Mark mentions above.
- To register to participate in a forthcoming OxTS support and training webinar, or to view recordings of sessions we’ve already presented, please follow this link.
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