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Online are currently celebrating 25 years in business and for this week’s Employee Spotlight we caught up one of our longest serving employees, Erlend Inkster. Erlend is a member of the R&D team, and we discuss how things have evolved during his 15 years with the company and what the future looks like for Online’s product development.

1. Tell me a bit about yourself

My name is Erlend Inkster and I am the Research & Development Manager at Online Electronics, based in Aberdeen.

In my spare time, I like to spend time with my family - I have a 2.5-year-old son and we are expecting another child in the new year. I also enjoy sports such as surfing, badminton, and skiing.

2. Tell me about your background and how you entered the industry.

I was born in Stavanger where my parents lived for a few years in Egersund but I have lived in Aberdeen my whole life although I did study for one term at NTNU in Trondheim. While at university, I worked at CDL and Online as a Production/Development Engineer and I graduated in 2006 with an MEng in Electronics and Computer Engineering.

After graduation, I worked at OEL as a Design Engineer. At that time the company was very small, and everyone helped with answering phones, ordering, stores, Production etc. As the team grew, I became R&D Manager. So I would say I have experienced a bit of everything and have seen the company grow from a family owned business with a headcount of half a dozen, being bought by IK, to where we are now.

3. Can you tell me a bit more about you role at Online?

I am currently managing the R&D team which involves prioritizing and progressing a list of potential projects while handing any adhoc work and requests that come through. I also help and provide advice internally to the other members of my department as well as the Production and Sales departments.

I will be soon moving into a more technical and design focused role in the company. I’m hoping this will give me the time and freedom to develop some new and exciting products which is what I enjoy doing.

4. Can you give an example of a product development you have been involved in that you are particularly proud of and explain why?

This would probably be our EMRx electromagnetic receiver range. This was an obvious step change/improvement from our previous EM receivers to the EMRx.

It was technically challenging and interesting to redesign the entire system from scratch using modern techniques and the experience we have gained with EM pig tracking systems in the past.

We produced a small, simple, and robust product which performs significantly better than our previous EM receivers and better than the competition (as far as we know.)

Windows and Android software applications were developed for use with the EMRx and provide a modern user interface with several features which would have been very difficult to achieve with our previous designs. I think integration of our products with mobiles devices and software applications will be a significant part of our future.

5. Online Electronics will be celebrating 25 years in business later this year. As one of the longest serving employees, you must have seen a lot of changes over the years. How has your department evolved over this time and why do you think Online continue to be successful?

Over the years we have developed procedures and processes within R&D which help us to work in a more defined and structured way which helps improve the quality and effectiveness of our work.

I think a constant part of the OEL culture over the years has been that everyone at Online wants to help our customers solve their problems and this has contributed to the success of the company.

Going forward, I think we will find ourselves interfacing laptops and mobiles phones with our various products more which will require significant investment in R&D and particularly software development. Basically, expect the products to be more integrated with each other, mobile devices, and customer systems – “digitalization.”

5. Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time, what are your career goals going forward?

Just to continue developing new and exciting products, utilizing the latest technologies available.

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