Triax understands the complexities of an active construction site, which is why we work every day to streamline processes, boost efficiency, and provide value to our clients. Everything we do is in the interest of our customers and making projects safer, better, and faster – whether that’s our Client Engagement team in the field or our engineers who are designing, developing, and supporting our products. Today we’re introducing you to a member of our Product Development Team, Greg Probert.
Hi Greg! Thanks for the time. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Sure thing, I’m a mechanical engineer by education and lover of all thing sports. I was born and raised in Rhode Island and went to the University of Rhode Island before moving to Connecticut to work at Schneider Electric. At Schneider, I designed one-off custom electrical distribution systems, which required a lot of traveling. For the first two years out of school, I was in a different state every week. I then spent 3 years at GE, where I collected 2 patents for unique electrical distribution products and spearheaded the sourcing and manufacturing of a new product.
My passion has always been product design, and my design experience revolves around sheet metal, plastics, and additive manufacturing. When I’m not hanging with my wife, Amanda, or our 3 cats (Meowmeow, Jackson, and Bruin) and puppy, Bitsy, I’m passionate about watching and playing sports, good beer, and working on my car.
What excited you about joining Triax and helping to build Spot-r from the ground up?
Actually, you hit the nail on the head with your question. Building a product and a solution from the ground up is exactly what enticed me. It is very rare that opportunities come along to join a company at its beginning and to be there to watch it grow. It’s been rewarding to be relied upon to be a major contributor to its success.
What is your role as Manager, Manufacturing and Hardware Design? How does your team approach the product development process?
I was hired for my broad experience in hardware design and manufacturing experience, but in a growing company, everyone has to wear many hats. Triax needed someone who knew how to design a product and also how to source it. I currently work with our Engineering team to design new products and manage the production of our current product lines, and I also work with our Field Operations team to manage our supply chain and ensure products arrive on time.
Our products are built in the USA. What role does that play in product development?
We strive to ensure our product is assembled and tested in the U.S. The main reason to go somewhere other than the U.S. to build a product is price; In order to stay competitive, companies are attempting to design out cost. While we may not be able to control the labor and overhead at a contract manufacturer, we can cut down on the amount of time it takes to assemble a product through innovative design. For example, we were able to design our Spot-r Clip to be one piece instead of several, making assembly easier, more efficient and thus less costly. By implementing smart designs and innovative thinking, we can deliver quality, fast, and cost efficient Made in the USA products.
In addition, it’s hard to put a price on having your contract manufacturer down the street or in the same time zone. The feedback loop with manufacturing during product development is critical, similar to project participants in the pre-construction phase. Knowing exactly when an issue arises and being able to attack it immediately ensures no time is lost in production. Being able to have face-to-face meetings or see the product assembly process first-hand is really invaluable for a design engineer.
What’s the most challenging part of your job? What’s your favorite part about working here?
The most challenging part of my job is the constant switch between designing new products and ensuring our current products are manufactured smoothly and without any quality issues. My favorite part of the job is going home every day with a sense of accomplishment. Knowing that what I do every day affects how Triax – and construction – performs in the present and future drives me to become a better employee and a better engineer.
What’s been your biggest Spot-r related accomplishment to date?
My biggest accomplishment is the design of the Spot-r EvacTag. We wanted a solution to alerts workers, and we wanted to build that functionality into our existing network products. By building a standalone product, we built a truly “plug-and-play” solution that strengthens jobsite evacuation procedures, reducing the time it takes to evacuate by 72%. Knowing that something I helped design could help save lives and communicate an emergency is incredibly gratifying.
What’s the design to manufacturing process like? I know you use Autodesk tools, which must be cool when you consider the product you’re building also integrates with them. Can you give us a sneak peek into the process?
The design to manufacturing process usually starts with a collaborative meeting and “ends” with a problem, proposed solution, and requirements solve the problem. After that, product development takes shape with various prototypes. These can be sketches, 3D models on a computer, 3D printed models, or a flow chart depicting how they expect the software to function. This process can repeat itself several times before a direction is finally chosen. Once a solution is decided upon, the engineers then get into the heavy design work while considering requirements set forth and designing within the bounds of the desired manufacturing methods.
During this process, we do utilize Autodesk’s software Fusion 360. I have used various 3D modeling software in the past, but Fusion 360 has surpassed them all. It has grown with us, providing the exact support we need, and last year I was able to attend Autodesk University in Las Vegas. Not only did I attend Fusion-related classes, but Triax was also showcasing our Spot-r integration with BIM 360. It is quite the story designing a product from the ground-up in one Autodesk platform and having it ultimately integrate with another Autodesk platform!
Making projects safer, smarter and faster through innovative, intelligent technology is central to our mission. How do you live that daily in the engineering process?
As you know, construction is one of the last frontiers when it comes to implementing technology. In this industry specifically, we need to design products that perform on the level everyone expects their consumer electronics to perform on, but they also need to be simple to set-up and simple to use so they don’t impede a worker’s daily routine.
I love being part of a nimble company that can quickly adapt and utilize emerging tools. Within the design process, we are constantly thinking about how our products are made and how we can utilize emerging technology to take them to the next level.