Bright future for young manufacturer

DAVID Michel, engineering manager at Automation Control Systems (ACS), an Australian company which designs and manufacturers fleet management technology for the materials handling industry, took out Endeavour Awards Young Manufacturer of the Year Award for 2012 sponsored by ABB Australia.

On accepting his Award, David expressed surprise and gratitude for the recognition and expressed his desire to continue working for ACS over the long term.

"I'm very honoured to win this Award. After reading the other finalists I didn't really expect to win.

"I really enjoy the company I work for. Right now we're in the middle of a big project that is going to be released to the market just after the financial year so I'm really hoping to bring the company forward and get on to bigger and better projects in the future," he said.

At the heart of ACS's fleet management technology is the use of real time telemetry with web technologies to provide unprecedented levels of information for fleet operators to manage their operating efficiencies.

David designed ACS's Fleet Online telemetry device which sells over 200 units annually to the equipment dealer network. He also helped in the development of Speedshield which controls speed in large and heavy equipment.  

"I'm most proud of our Fleet Online product that is sold all over Australia and America and the UK. I personally put a lot of work into that so I'm quite proud of it," David said.

In his speech, David was quick to acknowledge his team and the work that everyone puts in to complete the projects to a high standard and on time.

"I'm very honoured to receive this award, it's fantastic. Congratulations to the other finalists. Thanks to my engineering team, it's not just the efforts of one person that makes ACS a successful company." 

He explained he is now an engineering manager at ACS, working with the company for over five years. 

"In that time I've had the privilege to work on many different projects, mostly developing products that measure, sensor and collect data in automotive environments.

"Over my time working on our Speedshield product I've learnt it's important to design to world standards and to implement rigorous product testing on all parts of design and manufacture," he said.

According to Jason Ko, ACS's Director, David has also successfully designed a power supply for next generation devices. 

"Designing a reliable power supply in materials handling equipment is challenging due to the voltage requirement from battery electric forklifts spanning anywhere from 12V to 80V. 

"Automotive products require only to work at 12V meaning very specific circuits can be designed. Designing power electronics for internal combustion and electric forklifts was an achievement David met," Ko said.

"David has also achieved non-tangible outcomes for ACS, which in many cases are just as important as his technical achievements. 

"He has positively impacted the engineering work culture, and because he is an engineer at heart before a manager he understands what drives engineering staff. 

"As such David has streamlined good engineering practice into a business environment such as design standards, version control, and how ACS manages its valuable intangible assets and its intellectual property," Ko said.

David began at ACS as a graduate in 2006 and has worked his way up to his current position as Engineering Manager.

He is now in charge of design of hardware, firmware and programming as well as managing a team of four staff and two contractors. He deals with international heads of design and has worked to develop a strategy that ensures his team develops on time, in rhythm and shows consistent performance. 

Ko said, David has helped establish the R&D culture to promote creativity without compromising accountability and specifically, and has played an important part in the FM1 Telemetry Projects with Nacco Materials Handling Group (NMHG).

"David cultivates brainstorming activity, which is an important part of the creative process, and ensures every voice is heard and every opinion is considered. Ultimately the solution design is always a joint effort by all those involved.

"He brings the hardware engineering and firmware development to reality. His initiative and attitude towards work is one that colleagues emulate by demonstration. 

"His value in the business is much more than the technical expertise he brings, but also the operational aspect of ACS' identity as an innovative engineering company," Ko said.

Image: Adrian Heaton, National Marketing Manager – Discrete Automation and Motion, ABB Australia, (left) presenting the award to David Michel.