Hot Town, Summer in the Factory
August 1, 2019 – Much of the world slows, and even stops, for the summer holidays. Pools in the US are packed with children enjoying their extended school vacation, construction in Holland grinds to a halt as builders, tradesmen and their families flock together along Spanish beaches, and – except for tourists – France is closed for August. Even our Southern Hemisphere friends and customers take advantage of the slowdown, planning ‘winter’ holidays or catching up during the lull.
While many of our customers enjoy a cruise, bask on the beach or explore exotic locales, Orbit staff remain busy building and testing the systems our customers ordered in the Spring and early summer – and supporting the ever-growing installed base of Orbit systems on ships, aircraft and at ground stations around the world.
In one area of our factory a neat row of OceanTRx systems stand ready for final tests and shipping, soon to provide high-speed connectivity to cruise ships and oil platforms. Today a customer on a cruise might grumble about her slow connection as she tries to remotely check her office e-mail (with kids tugging her arm, telling her to get off the computer and bring them to the pool), but next year the systems on the floor may be on the same vessel – with the same customer trying to get her kids to take a break from videos and games on their iPads and phones.
Across the facility several Gaia 100 compact earth station take form, prepared to join scores of others already in service for Earth Observation and SmallSat companies, search and rescue services, universities and space agencies. In fact, some of us at Orbit will be attending the Small Satellite Conference at Utah State University next week! Perhaps next summer the systems we’ll be displaying there will take in weather and sea condition data, or vessel locator signals, and help ensure smooth sailing for mom and kids on the cruise ship.
Production of Orbit systems is not contracted to a far-off factory, and co-locating production facilities with the engineering, sales and support organizations, and staff mobility between groups, yields a number of direct and indirect benefits. Manufacturing staff find smarter and faster ways to build the systems, engineers can quickly test new configurations and features, and the support team can help customers work through questions and issues while standing in front of the same system. This comes to life at lunch time in the Orbit cafeteria, staff mixing to check up on production schedules, weigh in on new developments, and as importantly, discuss where they will be taking their families on their deferred holidays!