The Silicon Review
“We deliver deeper understanding to businesses, governments, organizations and individuals, which will in turn transform the way we live and work.”
The Internet of Things (IoT) is creating new customer experiences and unparalleled economic value, while improving quality of life for countless people around the globe. By providing products and services to connect “things” to the Internet, MultiTech delivers deeper understanding to businesses, governments, organizations and individuals, which will in turn transform the way we live and work.
MultiTech presents an opportunity to the IoT industry because, the company develops and manufactures communications equipment for the industrial Internet of Things, enabling customers to connect physical assets to business processes to deliver enhanced value.
How it all started-1970
In a landmark regulatory decision regarding Carterfone, the FCC ruled that non-AT&T equipment could access that company's telephone lines. Dr. Raghu Sharma withdrew $300 from his savings account to purchase a box of amplifier chips and headed for the student workshop at the University of Minnesota. There he made a mold for the rubber cups needed to cradle the handset of a telephone on an acoustic coupler. The company’s first data communications product was the FM300, an acousticly coupled 300-baud modem. MultiTech sold a bunch to the University of Minnesota. “In fact, in my first German class at the U, we used it. That class was called Programmed German. We had to call in using the FM300 and do classwork on a terminal,”recalls Del Palacheck, COO at MultiTech.
“Early on, we manually built them in batches of fifteen and hand carried them one at a time to the university. I started soon after MultiTech started making them. We’d deliver them to various places, mostly to the university. It kept us alive,” Palacheck says.
Driving into focus
In the early years – 300 baud was barely fast enough to move a small square across the screen – but it was still like a miracle. Overtime, the need for speed drove the company from 300 to 1200 baud which resulted in a noticeable difference. Then came the requirement for simultaneous voice and data. That was a precursor to being able to send video over Internet and was entirely driven by customers.
“Some large Fortune 100 customers were very particular about how we built things and about quality.” Palacheck says. “Ultimately, they just wanted us to be a good vendor. Quality was the most important thing even over features. Those customers drove us to establish the quality processes and standards we continue to use, together with our 100% domestic manufacturing operations, and have given us an unmatched reputation for quality.”
Looking back, the most difficult challenge was in the tools that you need to run every day. For example, the Bill of Materials (BoM) existed largely in individual team members’ heads, making it very difficult to know what to buy, when and how much. The firm once had a purchaser fill a whole room with a single semiconductor component because they were cheap. “Over time we learned to manage and plan, but (and maybe you have to ask your parents about this) we didn’t have any computer systems to do the heavy lifting like we do today,” Palacheck remembers.
47 years, still cutting edge
MultiTech remains committed to innovation – with an entire group inside the organization dedicated to just that. Their growing portfolio of cellular products is complemented by the first commercially available suite of LoRa® technology based communications devices which are ARM® mbed™ enabled to allow intelligence at the edge of new LoRaWAN™ low power wide area networks, opening the door for a host of new applications. The company currently developing products to support LTE Category M and narrow band IoT.
Compendious backdrop of the line-up
Stefan Lindvall, CEO - Stefan Lindvall brings more than 20 years of high level experience in the wireless industry to MultiTech. In the last five years at Connected Development, a MultiTech subsidiary, Lindvall has created one of the leading wireless design services companies in the U.S. Lindvall received his MSc in Industrial Engineering and Management from the University of Linkoping, Sweden.
Del Palacheck, COO - Del Palacheck has more than 30 years experience in Operations Management at MultiTech. As Chief Operating Officer, he heads the manufacturing, materials and facility management departments. He strives for quality and on-time delivery of products using Lean principles and a management approach that emphasizes teamwork. Del’s educational background includes a degree in civil engineering from the University of Minnesota, an MBA from the University of St. Thomas and additional electronics training.