The Team Behind The Tech: Colin Grant
For today’s The Team Behind The Tech interview, we’re chatting with Colin Grant, the Director of Product for Hardware and OBCs (on board computers) at Routeware.
During a typical day, Colin could be doing any number of things. To let him tell it:
“I work really closely with Operations and Dan Mortenson’s team that actually puts the equipment onto trucks. It’s crucial, especially as a remote worker, that I stay in touch with the people who are handling the hardware and most familiar with how it actually works and the troubleshooting of it, and that are involved in the purchase and procurement and prep and all that sort of stuff that happens to get the hardware on the truck.
The other side of my role is to think more strategically about what’s the hardware that should be on the truck of the future, and how do we get it there? You know, how can we make our supply chain more resilient, find multiple vendors, how can we change our product delivery so that we can get hardware and OBCs onto the trucks quicker and more reliably, potentially with fewer parts or with fewer connections? Simplification is always good, but also thinking about what hardware might meet the emerging industry needs. So it’s kind of a bit of a split role that way.
And then there’s actually a third part to my role, which I really enjoy, and that’s being able to be hands on and jump in on particularly difficult customer situations that come up where we just can’t figure out what’s wrong. Where we’re trying to figure out remotely what might be going on and a connection’s not being made, a camera isn’t reporting back, or a tablet isn’t updating, or not charging, or whatever.
So I get to gather details from experts around Routeware, talk to the support team, talk to the customer directly. You know, I gather all the information I can and I have a setup over here you can’t see off-screen. That’s basically like a truck on a bench where I’ve got a lot of our Routeware hardware and I can create the scenarios and try to troubleshoot remotely.
And in some cases I’ve actually flown out and visited the customer. I love that, getting that direct interface, getting to see the impact of our work, getting to fix an issue and make the customer happy.
Is that a working model truck behind you?
Yeah! I’m fortunate to have the space to set up some dedicated areas to simulate what’s on a truck and do some troubleshooting here. And it feeds in nicely with all the normal things I do in my office.
Outside of work I’m really interested in electronics and tinkering and repair and just playing around with fun, nerdy stuff.
I’ve got representative tablets and the standard buttons that drivers can hit in the cab and switches that simulate arms going up and down, and I’ve got an MDVR and that sort of stuff. I also have some cameras that are pointed at a clock so that I can record something and see the time changes.
Behind me is an RFID setup that I’m testing straight from a potential partner, and then a potential tablet that we might consider using.
What would you say is the most interesting or important thing you’ve learned in your work ?
There’s certain industries that, from an outsider perspective, almost seem overlooked by the high tech revolution, such as waste, trucking and farming.
But that’s not true at all!
What I’ve learned in my work is that if you wanna make a massive impact on the world in terms of what we can do with technology, it’s neat to make another photo sharing app, but if you apply technological innovation and the IoT revolution and dramatic drops in cost, if you take all that and apply it to more fundamental industries in the world, like agriculture, waste hauling, trucking, construction – I mean, there’s others, all the big sort of pillars of what our lives are based on – You can just make huge impacts.
You know, there’s a lot of opportunity for impact at scale in terms of optimization, resource savings, and the quality of employees’ lives.
Whatever target you’re going for, you can make a massive impact when you’re applying technology to those fundamental industries that other things are built on top of.
Looking ahead to the future, what do you think some of the big challenges and or opportunities will be for our customers?
The cost of doing business certainly seems to be going up in terms of fuel, which is a major driver for our customers.
It also seems like more and more, large cities seem to be exerting more control over how the hauler operates and there’s more regulations and rules. So, I think haulers trying to meet the regulatory demands of the areas where they work is gonna be difficult – you know, new emission standards, having to retire old trucks, be more fuel efficient, more data collection, more reporting, that sort of thing.
I also think that there’s going to be a more demanding view of what recycling and waste stream management looks like. I think that as other industries face those same costs, pressures, and regulatory restrictions, recycling will become more attractive.
If mining gets more difficult, then recycling becomes more attractive. If the cost of bringing aluminum across the country goes up, then there’ll be more pressure on having more localized aluminum recycling. And I’m just pulling out random examples from my head, but what I’m trying to get at, trying to build towards, is that I think we’re gonna have more and more pressure to manage the waste stream more carefully and actually be able to reuse materials more efficiently.
And in all those areas and more, Routeware can (and does) help.
Fast Facts About Colin
Before we wrapped things up, we had some rapid fire questions to get to know Colin better.
If you had super powers, what would they be and why?
The power to peer into any machine and instantly diagnose the problem.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
*Colin proceeds to blow the interviewer’s mind with tales of metal working, woodworking, finding broken items for free off Craigslist and repairing everything from pressure washers to portable battery packs, chainsaw milling, building offroad trucks, dirt bike riding, welding, cabinetry, DIY home remodeling, and more. It’s way too much to put here. It was awesome.*
*Editor’s note: if the apocalypse ever does come, just go find Colin Grant. You’ll be okay.* 🧟