Engineering a new career path

Smiths Detection opens the door to intelligent algorithms, big data analytics and AI

Michael Dale joined Smiths Detection in 2017 as a field engineer working on hold baggage security scanning systems and from the outset, was keen to explore the career development opportunities offered by the company. In 2019 he was chosen to join the UK projects and programmes team and then to focus on an exciting new digitalisation project – leveraging data generated by the screening equipment to provide key insights for a complete Asset Performance Management solution.

“Initially I had an open role on the team then, due to my experience working with major airport networks, I was offered the opportunity to concentrate on APM. This is an excellent example of how Smiths Detection encourages people to keep learning and developing. It has taken me in a completely different direction, opened up a whole new world of IT skills and led me to additional industry certified qualifications,” explained Michael.

Specialist APM application suites will be data driven and designed to improve reliability and
availability and, at the same time, minimise risk and operating costs. With data to hand on asset history, current health and how to mitigate the risk of failure, it is possible to manage maintenance and reduce unplanned downtime.

APM reflects the trend within security screening towards utilising big data analytics, AI, machine learning and networks to advance both security standards and operational efficiency. “For example,” added Michael, “by continuously pulling data from inbuilt sensors, we can monitor the remaining life of critical parts and ultimately predict potential breakdowns. APM helps answer questions on the consequences of a given failure and what action should be taken and when – hence maximising uptime. Using these insights will allow us to control stock in anticipation of machine failure and ensure the right parts are immediately available as and when needed.”

Global connections
Working closely with the development teams, part of Michael’s role is to help ensure APM is configured to suit individual airport applications and networks. More secluded locations will require very different networking solutions to international city airports.

Due to travel restrictions, Michael needs to remotely handle some overseas APM installations, “It is an interesting approach but it doesn’t really cause any problems. APM is something new for customers so they inevitably have concerns whether dealing with us in person or online. However, once they understand the product and the requirements, they are generally very supportive and accommodating.”

“I really enjoy interacting with not only customers but also people from Smiths Detection sites in other countries and continents. There are many fascinating people with many different skills in this company and it’s a privilege to work with them. One minute I’m talking to a customer on the other side of the world and the next, having online meetings with colleagues in Newark, USA and Bangalore, India – I may be a member of a UK based team, but my reach is really global.”

Cyber security is crucial
Customers often ask Michael about security and how their networks and data are kept safe from cyber attacks. He reassures them by confirming that, “Cyber security is top priority at Smiths Detection and APM is 100% safe. The data sits in a very secure Cloud environment and can be retrieved without compromising the network or the equipment. Comprehensive penetration testing and certification ensure the highest levels of security.”

As the analytics and algorithms will be designed and continuously improved by Smiths Detection software engineers, the product can be constantly upgraded, ensuring customers benefit from the very latest technology and safety protocols.

Michael concluded, “I’m not sure how my career will unfold in future but I’m happy to get involved with anything and everything. This business is great for anyone interested in new challenges – each day is different and always fascinating and I would like to thank everyone for their support and encouragement.”