More than 400 value-added resellers (VARs) and system integrators around the world use ORBCOMM’s pioneering technology to drive innovative solutions that address real problems in the agriculture, resource natural resources, oil and gas, utilities and others. That’s not all, though: our team of highly-skilled field application engineers work with VARs to provide creative proofs of concept, troubleshoot complex technical issues, facilitate third-party integrations, and much more.
We recently sat down with Obinna Enemuoh, Field Applications Engineer, to discuss what’s happening in the VAR industry, some of his favorite projects to date, the latest industry trends he’s observed, and more. This article is also available in spanish and Portuguese.
What is your background?
Electrical Engineering from Carleton College. I moved from Nigeria in 2008 and did a pre-university program before starting at Carleton.
Do you think electrical engineering has helped you as an engineer? of field applications?
It has been useful for sure, but I would say that 80% of my work is focused on utility. I have found it useful when we need to debug a PCB assembly or use a multimeter or oscilloscope in the lab.
So , are you learning a lot about utility engineering in practice?
Yes, that’s right. I’m more into satellite terminal solutions, which are programmable terminals, and that’s where I do a lot of utility programming.
How did you come to ORBCOMM as an electrical engineer?
My first job out of college was in the semiconductor industry, and then I moved into of manufacturing. I was excited when I was given this opportunity at ORBCOMM because it has to do with IoT and machine-to-machine communications.
Considering the direction the world is taking, with digitization, I was It seemed like a very strategic position.
Speaking of where the world is headed, you’re helping VARs embrace this technology. What value does your team bring to VAR?
We can hear the problems they solve. From there, we can suggest the best solutions to use from our portfolio. We can say, “Well, maybe you need a GT 1200 terminal” or “Maybe you don’t need a dual-mode terminal”, so we can suggest the right technology for your use case.
In addition, we can also provide proof of concept and continue to communicate with them, leaving that window open so they can build custom apps with our input.
Have you seen any trending use cases that VARs are solving?
I haven’t seen any, and that’s one of the The things I like about this job: It’s always different. Often the communication protocols are the same; for example, I’ve worked a lot with Modbus, but apart from that, there’s always something new.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing VARs on the pitch today?
I see a lot of companies have a hard time getting the data they generate. With our solutions, we help them collect this data and use it. Usually, they don’t have the proper backend to get them, so that’s a common problem.
Another common problem is the integration of multi-vendor solutions. Many of them use sensors and devices from different manufacturers, so they are constantly the intermediary in communication between various manufacturers and suppliers.
¿ And we help them with that because we know how to integrate those devices?
Yes, exactly. We sometimes contact these vendors and work with them directly to resolve our customer’s issues. In addition, if our client has any problem with the configuration of these devices, we intervene.
Do you have any favorite projects so far?
There is one in Colombia that I really liked. They were trying to monitor gas and flame levels, and report status changes. It was challenging because there were about 69 different sensors. In our Modbus 2 application, we only have 31 different addresses. Basically, I had to build my own Modbus decoder.
It was a very good experience for me. It took me a long time, but it was very useful and now I can say that I fully understand the Modbus protocol.
In addition, they gave us a live demonstration: they introduced different gases in the detector so that we could see the app in action, and actively informed us of status changes. They introduced different gases, such as methane and propane, which had different dissipation rates. The application had to adapt and be fast enough to capture the changes of state taking into account the type of gas and the rate of dissipation.
So, did he have to be pretty smart?
You mentioned that you liked the diversity of the projects, however, do you have any favorite industries?
Honestly, I don’t have a favorite industry that I particularly like, they have all been interesting in their own way. Another project that comes to mind is one where the client wanted to measure the turbidity of a river. They wanted to know how clean it was and to report if it exceeded a certain threshold.
When the threshold was exceeded, they wanted an alarm to sound and a flush to be triggered. We had to implement the digital output to start the wash.
It’s true, I like the diversity of the projects. Although a tendency in my taste is that the project of turbidity technology a Modbus application. The same thing happened with the Colombian gas monitoring project.
In my opinion, data analytics, because right now we can offer VARs a lot of data, but I think that, in the future, analytics will be a key element for the sector, since more and more companies obtain information of her.
He mentioned that works a lot with ST products. Do you work with others?
I have also worked on the GT 1200 solution for ORBCOMM last year in Japan.
What do you prefer to work on? Do you have any preferences?
I prefer the ST series – it’s fully programmable so I have much more flexibility to be creative.
Based on your experience in the field, where do you think the VAR market is headed?
It’s all about automation these days, right? I think what we will see is that VARs will be more able to move freely from vertical to vertical, offering omnivertical solutions.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Is it poodle breeder?!
Yes, we also have some puppies. They’re about five weeks old now, so three more and they’ll be done.
Do you return to Nigeria frequently?
Yes! I returned in 2021 and plan to return for Christmas this month.
Before I finish, what would you say is the most important character trait for a Field Applications Engineer?
Interpersonal ability. Having the ability to talk to people and communicate. Technical knowledge is important, but we are in business to help our customers solve their problems.