An Interview With Our Senior Mechatronics Engineer Prashant
Get to know our newest senior hire, Prashant! He joins our Hardware team as Senior Mechatronics Engineer and brings in knowledge from multiple (robotics) start-ups. We sat down for an interview with him to get his insights on sewts, his first weeks and what’s next for Mechatronics development at sewts.
Hi Prashant, thank you for taking the time! To start things off, can you give us a short introduction of yourself?
I’m Prashant Doshi, a Mechatronics Engineer who has been associated with many Start-ups in my career, from a pancake making machine to sewts now. I really love to deal with machines and technology and I adore how business and technology can come together to provide solutions for the current world.
Why did you decide to join sewts?
I have always been working with Start-ups or around them. I enjoy the mix of technology and multiple responsibilities you must take in such a young environment. With sewts, I specifically liked the engineering and technology challenge the company is facing and I also get a chance to participate at a very young stage of the company.
You’ve only been here since April, so everything’s still quite new. What are you focusing on during your first months?
I am mainly focusing on getting to know the people and how everyone is contributing to the project. I had the lucky chance to connect with everyone at our Team Building event in May, so that was a very refreshing start for me. In the first weeks, my intend was also to quickly learn about the company processes, for example how our tri-weekly cycle of scrum works and how software and hardware development interact. I was quite happy to see the scrum process was well established, almost refined already actually. The whole team is progressing quite smoothly together.
How does our development process compare to your previous experiences?
I have worked on products which had more competition in the market, so it required attention in manufacturing and production processes and it demanded fairly high production volume in short times.
Here at sewts it’s different as we are dealing more with developing a unique solution to untouched problems. We don’t have a benchmark to compare with from the market. So it gets hard to know where we are standing. The amazing thing is that we are upgrading the benchmark every week ourselves. At sewts it’s mainly about the reliability and performance of the solution and improving it rapidly for the application.
It is also quite hard to test things as we only have one system due to it being a large installation, so we need to use alternate methods and ideas to get the most insightful results and failure modes in order to identify the right problems and make the right decisions.
Where do you see the biggest strengths of the technology developed by sewts?
The vision system is definitely one of the key verticals of sewts. It is indispensable for handling textiles in defining the coordinates for robots to pick up towels, t-shirts or any other material we want in a future application.
We often say that we’re mainly a robotics software company, but that our hardware development is equally important nonetheless. Can you give some insights into this notion?
We are calling us a software company, but we’re developing software for hardware and writing software on hardware. So there’s a big difference between a “regular” software company and a robotics software company.
There’s always new technologies and new types of hardware coming out and we have to keep updating the software so that it fits the hardware. This is a big challenge for the Mechatronics development. Right now, we’re dealing with very different kinds of cameras, PLCs and automation kits. It will always be a learning curve to first understand the hardware and then write software for it. For every new hardware component, there’s a new learning curve.
Why is there such a variety in the components sewts is using?
Because of the supply chain crisis we’re in right now. This also leads to challenges in integrating all of these hardware components together in the system. There could be issues with communication protocols, mechanical constraints or electrical constraints. We have to live with these factors and within the existing conditions, we are designing our system so that the entire package of the product works together.
Looking forward: What are the main goals and challenges for the hardware team going to be until the end of 2022?
So we definitely have the big challenge of getting VELUM released coming up and that project is not ending after we have installed the second or third system of course, because there’s a constant need for improvement if we want to grow. There will be a small vertical in the hardware team that focuses on product improvement of VELUM going forward.
At the same time, we will be working on new applications for other businesses. It will be interesting to see how we overlap these two projects and how we will balance out new developments with ongoing improvements.