You have to change your problem solving technique to match the challenge you are facing.
For this Six Sigma Black Belt, successful solutions require the integration of engineering, project management, and relationship management. Jonathan's nearly 20-year career in mechanical and electrical engineering and engineering management has enabled him to work at the forefront of advanced LED innovation and products requiring specific and unique solutions for delivering high-voltage power. Skilled in building the financial models needed to determine project spend, Jonathan had repeatedly identified opportunities for transforming under-performing projects, by restructuring systems and streamlining processes. For me the key to innovation is an awareness of what is possible with technology," Jonathan notes. "I have the advantage of spending a lot of time with TE's customers. This helps me understand their technology and their new developments." It is this interaction which has enabled him to lead teams that have successfully developed power resistors – from a variety of technologies, high-voltage systems used in rail, renewable energy, HVAC, lighting, and building automation.
To connect us to our homes, it is not going to be about using your tablet or phone, it will be about sensing our needs and the home adjusting to meet it.
Which ideas in home automation will have a long-term impact on the connected home?
The easy answer would be the smart thermostat. It is certainly the product that started the growth in the home automation market. Nest being bought by Google gave that product a lot of publicity and their sales grew and so did the amount of thermostats types in the market. The smart thermostat is usually the first home-automation product anyone buys, but I think the product that will have the biggest impact and will be the center of our homes will be the home hub. A home hub will essentially connect to every device in our home via IP. Whether that be our TV, set-top box, thermostat, lighting, or door locks. Allowing the home owner to have a single interface to all their connected products via a tablet of phone. The key phrase in that statement is single interface. Who wants to have to use one app to control the TV then go to another to adjust the lights?
What enables teams to develop feasible, innovative solutions for building systems?
For me the key to innovation is an awareness of what is possible with technology. I have the advantage of spending a lot of time with TE's customers. This helps me understand their technology and their new developments. My knowledge of the building automation market and related technologies has increased. Within Intelligent Buildings, we have some very interesting discussions about our products, technologies, and new developments. I am a mechanical engineer, like many of the other engineers in the industrial group, but this should not limit our innovation and we should not be scared of other technologies. We have activities around integrated functionality; placing Bluetooth, IP communications, and PoE into LED holders. Combining sensor technologies in a single device suitable for intelligent buildings and using analogue electronics to perform two way switching in modular wiring applications.
What types of engineering problems challenge you to think differently about your work?
I think you have to change your problem solving technique to match the challenge you are facing. I have been an engineer for longer than I care to admit, with a large part of that at TE. Through my career, I have worked on displays, passive components, power resistors, 25kV rail cable assembles, 25kV circuit breakers, inlay moulded control boxes, connectors, and now lighting and home automation products. (I certainly have never been stereotyped in my career). Whenever I have moved into a new product area I have usually been handed a problem. You would be foolish to think you can solve it on your own and I do not like the approach some engineers take of going straight to a fix without understanding the problem. Over the years, you build up a network of experts, be they colleagues, consultants, or universities. No one is ever going to hand you the solution, but it is about having those conversations, and more than one, to try and find that seed which could be the root cause of the problem. Getting my head around the concept that at 25kV nothing is an insulator was interesting.
What most interests you in working for TE?
Being an engineer, it is delivering a product, no greater pleasure than seeing all your efforts in a physical form. I enjoy meeting with customers and discussing technology and projects. Most of them are doing really interesting stuff. One day I could be talking to cooper lighting about power over Ethernet, the next about a sensor for underfloor heating thermal actuator. I do not know where our initial conversations will take us. Will we find a new project? I do not know, but at the very least the business intelligence will be invaluable and will add to our strategy.
What changes do you expect to see over the next five years?
Over the past five years, LEDs had an impact on the lighting industry, greatly reducing our energy consumption and increasing the levels of control we have on our lights. The industry is going through some flux at the moment. With at least three of the main players selling off large parts of their lighting business, but its impact is not yet finished. LED lighting is driving the DC grid and with the new USB-C power delivery protocol the DC grid could grow off your desk. With one centralised power brick that all your devices plug into. For TE and the building automation market, I can see sensors having the biggest impact over the next five years. To connect us to our homes, it is not going to be about using your tablet or phone, it will be about sensing our needs and the home adjusting to meet it. Therefore, the amount of sensors will grow and as engineers we are going to need to understand how to integrate them into our products, increasing their functionality.