How did you get into engineering?
Engineering has been there right from childhood. I was curious and asked questions about how things worked … I liked fixing things (like lights and fans in the house!) My special interest in Geometry, Maths, and Science has further helped me excel in tough entrance exams for good engineering universities in India.
What do you enjoy most about mechanical engineering?
I enjoy starting with a concept of what the customer wants and taking it to the end, a viable and manufacturable product. This involves seeing through the whole lifecycle of the product. That includes aspects like: manufacturability, maintainability, how easy it is to operate, ergonomics, whether a particular part is accessible or not, whether there’ll be too much strain on a particular part … even aspects like whether the product can be transported by air or ship … and of course, there are regulations. In the end, it needs to be economical and feasible.
By taking the development from concept to the final product, you need to really feel and visualise the product. Mechanical engineering involves a lot of understanding and imagination … it is very broad and it keeps me on my toes and interested!
What engineering experience did you have before you came to Caliber?
I had about 10 years of experience with major multinational companies.
I worked for General Electric for more than seven years for their steam and gas turbines … they are complex machines operating at high temperatures and parts rotating at high speeds with tight tolerances to adjacent parts. In addition to customization of turbines I have evaluated the fatigue life of components to determine remaining life in the parts performing FE analysis. Some of my process / product improvement projects here resulted in savings of over million dollars. I even secured a US patent for one of the innovations.
Before that I was with a manufacturing plant/fabrication shop where I did the design and calculations for pressure vessels and heat exchangers.
So, right from the beginning I was into engineering in the mechanical equipment industry. In my 18 years of experience, Caliber is the third company I’ve worked for.
What makes working for Caliber different from the other engineering companies you’ve worked for?
Definitely Caliber is very different, mainly from the variety of the jobs that we get to. Today I might be doing fabrication design from concept to detail design, my next project might be more project engineering, where I’m guiding other engineers to get their job done, maintaining schedules, talking to suppliers. Some projects will require me to do a lot of analysis and calculations. We experience many different industries and the variety keeps me really engaged all the time.
We’re currently in the Covid-19 lockdown, but you’re still working for clients remotely. What does a typical day for a Caliber engineer look like? How has it changed in these lockdown conditions?
To be frank, this hasn’t been affected too much by lockdown. The technology today enables us to do pretty much everything. We have verbal communication going on. We can share our screens. The paperwork has come down quite a bit, so we hardly work on paper … as long as we’re working on the computer screen, we can show the other person what we’re doing. In fact, I would say the lockdown has enabled us to communicate more easily because everyone is more available for talking than before. I hope we can also empower the fabrication shop floor team with such technology.
The Caliber team take monthly opportunities to meet socially and have regular webinars to share our learnings among other Caliber team members.
Is there a particular project that’s been a highlight of your career?
Most of my design work has been around machinery design. Projects that involve not just mechanical, but sensors / automation / moving parts keeps me more interested.
A project that I was involved at Rocklabs is a highlight for me. We were developing a new product for a customer. It was similar to what Rocklabs have done in the past but involved completely different inputs and thus required a fresh start in the design.
The client knew at concept stage what they wanted. I was involved in the design of the product. It involved developing of mechanisms and sizing of machinery components like pneumatic cylinders, motors and other moving parts.
One of the product requirements was to clean few machine components using water and, within minutes, it had to dry for taking the next dry sample. It was an open concept, so we came up with different options. Initially we thought of heating, but realised heating wasn’t helpful because it takes more power and time, so we went to blowing compressed air which gave much better results. Based on these results I talked to various air nozzle suppliers and experimented with different nozzle arrangements … that kind of experimenting and developing a new product was really exciting! I have done a few of these kinds of projects. This one definitely involved the whole lifecycle.
What does your dream project involve?
Anything which can result in cost and energy savings, sustainability. For all the designs I do, I always have a keen eye for cost and energy savings. I always question if there is a better way to get the job done. I will be excited to work on projects if they intend to save energy for better sustainability.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Most of my time goes with family. I spend a good amount of time with my son and my family—helping them out, playing. I keep reading stuff on the web and we do a bit of travelling in our free time, around New Zealand. I do a little bit of photography and photo editing. My favourite destination I’ve visited in New Zealand is Fox Glacier.