Hardware Team – More than 80 man-years of combined experience in the Telegrafia R&D Unit
Interview with the Team Leader of the Hardware Development Department – Ing. Peter Lenhardt
1. You are the person that has been with Telegrafia since its beginnings. Could you share your 23-year-long professional experience with us and describe your current role?
I have been working for the company since the establishment of the R&D Unit in 1993. We were three at the beginning: two hardware designers and one firmware designer. In the following 23 years the company has grown into its present dimensions, where the Hardware Development Department consists of seven team members. I started at a position that could be called a junior hardware designer today. After gaining experience, I started to design various embedded modules by myself and some of them are still part of our current production plan. I wasn’t responsible only for hardware development, but also participated in the design of warning system projects and putting individual devices and entire systems into operation, both in Slovakia and abroad. Because of long and wide hands-on experience, I was offered the position of Team Leader of the Hardware Development Department a few years ago, which I accepted. Although I am not the only member of the team who designs new modules at present, I still come up with new ideas in the process of hardware development, frequently provide technological support to our partners aboard or help my colleagues, and, of course, I coordinate the day-to-day work within our team. All in all, I can say I have a great variety in my job; it is never stereotypical and gives me a lot of satisfaction.
2. Telegrafia has evolved very rapidly over the years and you have been part of its history. What would you say are the most dramatic changes that have taken place and made the organisation what it is today?
The Telegrafia Company has been through a number of stages during its development. At the beginning, the main focus was on the development, production and implementation of compact telemetric systems used to measure and control water supply systems. We delivered both hardware and computer software systems. Later, we won an important tender for the building of the Slovak National Warning System. It was necessary to deliver individual systems components, i.e. sirens, but also to design the national system to control them. When building our first early warning systems, we applied the knowledge gained from designing telemetric systems to control both the existing motor (electric) sirens and the new electronic sirens. We were not able to produce electronic sirens ourselves at the time though. In the course of time we developed our own line of electronic sirens of different outputs. The Hardware Development Department itself has been steadily growing with increasing customer demands for additional device functions. We offer effective warning solutions customised according to our customer requirements and technological needs, and most recently even warning systems interconnected with monitoring and control systems, which are also developed by our Hardware Development Department.
3. Telegrafia’s R&D Department is the most dynamic warning and notification unit in the world – how do you do this?
As I have mentioned before, continuously changing requirements of our present and potential customers are the main driving force of our Hardware Development Department. Our products are daily enhanced with numerous new functions and it is our company’s ability to respond to these requirements so quickly that has brought it to the world-leading position among the warning systems manufacturers.
4. What is special about Telegrafia’s electronic sirens? What is that has earned the company its unique position compared to other companies on the market?
One of the advantages of our portfolio of electronic sirens is their variety, regarding their outputs and applications, and their adaptability to current customer requirements above all. That means that our customer, or most frequently our partner, can use our specific software tools to make a combination of devices they really need (in terms of their outputs, control methods, types of siren boxes and many more) to transmit warning signal to a specific area. As far as the hardware is concerned, the company offers several optional communications and control modules. We have a great number of innovative solutions that other siren manufactures don´t, for example, compact low-output sirens or mobile sirens.
5. Your career has been almost entirely devoted to R&D, particularly to warning and notification systems – is there any innovation you can be proudest of or remember best?
There have been several milestones in our company’s development. I cannot pick just one thing that is historically the most important. Except for the company’s establishment, of course. However, there are some memorable moments, for instance, when we were putting some new devices into operation. I can mention the telemetric siren control system, among others, or the first generation of electronic sirens. Later, it was the second generation of sirens that were completely different and revolutionary in design. At the moment, we are developing the fourth generation of sirens and anxiously waiting for our trial test results. Speaking of technology, we started with processors that were rewritable only by using UV light, which took quite a long time. Today it may sound ridiculous, but this used to be common practice many years ago. One of the equally valuable moments was the development of our own embedded board, running on the new Linux operational system, whereby our products could be further enhanced, especially the software used.
Thank you very much for the interview.