The Right Systems Will Make—Or Break—Your Company’s Growth Plans
Ever travelled on a plane? If you have you’ve sampled our sophisticated precision technology.
It’s hard to pin down exactly when the shift happened, but at some point over the last seven years, we graduated from startup to fully fledged company. One day I looked back and we were here.
The right mix of people, systems, and environment makes the difference between a company that wins and one that dies. To be the best, you need to push forward and grow. Our next stage of growth will be as complex as the products we make.
At InnaLabs, we manufacture gyroscopes and accelerometers. If you have a smartphone, you’ve got miniature versions of this technology in your pocket. An accelerometer is a sensor that measures accelerations applied to a device it may be installed in. A gyroscope is another type of sensor that measures rotations of that same device. Both harness Newton’s laws of motion, also called laws of inertia, and that’s why those sensors are called inertial sensors.
Our Product Is Precision
Our accelerometers and gyroscopes provide the precision navigational technology used on boats and aircraft. You’ll find gyroscopes in instruments like artificial horizons in airplane cockpits. If you’ve ever seen a movie like Sully (2016), you’ve seen an artificial horizon in action. It’s the round gauge that shows the position of the aircraft relative to the Earth. When you bank the plane to turn, or tilt to ascend or descend, the artificial horizon shows the angle of the aircraft in relation to the ground. The film follows Sullenberger's January 2009 emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, in which all 155 passengers and crew survived thanks to his expertise and the remaining instruments that allowed for the sudden descent and landing on water.
While the technology we make has been around for some time and is fairly straightforward mechanically, the complexity and sophistication of our navigation grade accelerometers are built to exacting standards that are always being fine-tuned. This ensures Innalabs delivers the most precise and technologically sound offering.
If you’ve flown on an Airbus or Boeing aircraft in the last five years, you’ve benefited from the previous generation of our gyroscope technology. We are now working on the next generation of gyroscopes and accelerometers. But to build those future products and keep up with our growth plans, we had to upgrade the IT infrastructure in our Dublin factory.
Out with the Old
InnaLabs was in startup mode when I joined in 2012. We had our patents, our gyroscope prototypes, and a workforce of about four people. Since then, we’ve put together a design and manufacturing team, we’ve taken over a factory in Dublin, and we’ve developed a controlled production environment. We added a second product line with our accelerometers and qualified them to meet navigation-grade standards.
Today, we sell to customers around the world and that means coordinating training and sales, R&D, manufacturing, and shipping, among other things. To keep up with our grand visions, we had to upgrade our IT infrastructure, and we needed a solution that would scale from startup mode to enterprise-grade as we grew.
We inherited a server room stocked with Cisco equipment from the previous tenant of our new facility. However, it was already five to seven years old when we took over the plant in 2012. It was based on the Unified Communications 560 voice and data solution, which combines a multi-site data network with IP telephony functions. When we decided to upgrade in 2016, UC560 was end of life. We needed IT infrastructure that was current, more sophisticated, and scalable. We knew that we’d get this from the latest Cisco equipment.
But at the same time, our expertise was in inertial sensors, not the systems that we needed to help power our operations. We searched for different partners who could help us update our current setup. After a tender process, the clear winner was RocTel International, who had the expertise with Cisco products to help us overhaul everything.
Covering Our Bases
With RocTel helping us, one of our initial concerns was security and networking. Security was an obvious one as we’d had several attacks aimed at our network in the past. They were problematic with our older equipment, but they are relatively easy to handle with our new setup. But for networking, the setup was an issue of productivity.
We had different WiFi routers back then, and when we moved through the building, we had to connect and reconnect to various networks depending on which meeting room we were in. Now, we have a full mesh network, and even though we’re connecting to different access points, they are all on a single network. This not only improves security, but it also makes life far easier for employees.
Upgrading our telephony equipment also provided a huge improvement for our staff. We had a mixed environment that was part VoIP and part traditional landlines. We got rid of our landlines entirely and upgraded most of our VoIP fleet to Cisco’s newer 8841 and 7841 handsets, which not only improve call quality but also provide a degree of mobility. An employee can be anywhere in our 64,000 square foot facility, sit down at any desk, log into any handset, and have their personal extension and voicemail at hand. The last thing we want to do is add restrictions to our employees, so it feels good to know we no longer are.
Our new VoIP and network infrastructure will also allow us to ultimately integrate Cisco’s cloud-based collaboration tool, Webex Teams. It’s a scalable solution that provides video and voice calling, virtual meetings, and interactive whiteboard functionalities within our current facility. Because it is cloud-based, we’ll be able to extend our collaborative environment to future sites in Europe, Russia, and the United States, as we pursue our expansion strategy. RocTel’s expertise in these areas, combined with Cisco’s products, made for a seamless transition for our team.
Building Our 2025 Technology Roadmap
Cisco’s Remote Management Services Portfolio is also a tremendous asset to InnaLabs. By outsourcing network monitoring and disaster recovery duties to a trusted partner like RocTel, we can focus on developing the next generation of inertial sensor technology.
Our current generation of products has yet to be certified for commercial aviation use. We need reliable scalable IT infrastructure to achieve this next milestone.
Over the next three to five years, we’re not only aiming to achieve this type of certification, but we’re also looking to implement a production tracking system, automation procedures, and RMA portals that will allow customers to verify the lifecycle of the products they’ve purchased. These new systems will allow us to forge stronger connections with our customers, and to create sensors that are even more precise.
By giving our customers the ability to see how their order is progressing through the system, we can provide them with real-time information that will help them improve their own products. It’s a collaborative process. Their R&D teams use the data they gather from our production line to take their products to the next generation, to streamline their manufacturing processes, and to improve the design of future iterations of their products.
As we chart our technology roadmap on the way to 2025, we have several goals. To start, we plan to go international. We hope to have a US presence in the next two years. Beyond that, we want to move from being a component supplier to an equipment provider. We don’t just hope to supply the gyroscopes and the accelerometers that go into navigation equipment, we want to supply finished products like artificial horizons.
Ultimately, we plan to move into the top tier of inertial sensor technology manufacturers. To get there we need scalable and reliable IT infrastructure today to underpin and secure our future goal. Cisco has helped InnaLabs go from startup mode to full-scale production. Now that we’ve set our sights on the world, it’s good to know Cisco technology, underpinned by RocTel’s Managed Service, offers an IT roadmap that is as ambitious as ours. The future is bright.