We recently had the opportunity to chat with longtime Technical Services Executive, Tom Grady. Based out of Southhampton, England, he has over three decades of experience in the two-way radio industry and is a big D3M supporter. See the full interview below.
Who does Airsys do business with?
Airsys is the largest Motorola distributor in the Europe and we deal purely with two-way radio dealers in the UK and Europe. We wholesale the product to them and we help them with the larger more complex projects with system design, specifications, and tenders which is where D3M comes into play. We have next day delivery of the product, offer training and give dealers the technical back-up, so they can take on bigger projects.
What do your daily activities entail?
My typical day is dealing with the dealers who approach us about new opportunities, technical support, and deployment. On a weekly basis, I also deal with the sales guys. They talk to us about new projects coming on board and how much engineering resources will be required to bring projects to fruition.
Prior to D3M, what tools were your dealership using to design and document two-way radio networks?
My predecessor was using PaintShop Pro. It was a very long and laborious graphics job. Where I can put together a job in half an hour in D3M, he would spend three days. It's a much more efficient method to get these projects designed and tenders and documents out.
How has your organization implemented D3M into the process of creating and managing your radio network projects?
From inception, we put together a provisionary document. It will change of course and get fine-tuned, but it's very embryonic and nothing is set in stone. It is very fluid.
It started off that we would only use D3M for new projects, but as systems develop or expand or change architecture, we're bringing them into D3M for reference documents, so we can keep them up-to-date. It also helps that the dealers do a lot of the installation work and we're doing a lot of the high-level planning. It's useful to give them a copy of the project. It makes things very clear and understandable of what needs to be done.
What is the most significant benefit of using D3M?
I think it is the dissemination between the engineering team because sometimes with the larger more complex systems if you try to verbally describe the system, it doesn't always really sink in with the installation guys and the guys putting the system together on-site. If you can show them the system plan all completely clearly laid out - a picture paints a thousand words. And, it normally gets a really good reception from the customer because there's no ambiguity about what needs to be done. They have all the instructions they need. It gives a certain gravitas to the entire project because it is professionally correct and shows that you know what you're doing, rather than ‘Hey, we're having a guess at this’. It shows a certain level of professional competence.
Before we were using paint shop we had a small library of all of the images and you would put it all together, but it was very manual and laborious. I went on an engineering course with Zonith and their clients and they used D3M. I nearly broke their arm off trying to find out about the product. Whatever the subscription cost was, I could save that in a day with the amount of time it takes us to tend to documentation.
How often are you using D3M and how much time does it save you?
I would say almost every day - there are some days I'm not using it, maybe on a weekend - probably doing three to six projects a week on D3M. What used to take us three days now takes us 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the complexity. That time has shrunk now that I have most of the objects and things that I want in the library. I don't have to go and find images and import since most of the facilities I need are at my fingertips now. The actual design process is much much quicker.
What do you like best about D3M?
When you go to edit the image, you can say if it has an IP connection, data connection, radio connection, et cetera, so that you can't connect the wrong things to the wrong things. It's a little bit like a circuit diagram program that you can only connect the correct things together.
You can't really make any mistakes from the system design. It has stopped an awful lot of errors downstream. You have created this very nice, professional document, but also supplied all the right fits to put a system together, so when they end up at the customers, they have all the right things. D3M provides professionalism all the way down the line. This is the reference design, here are the components and this is what needs to be in the box when it arrives at the deployment site.
All of the projects that I've done using the tool, I find them a whole lot less stressful. All the right things are there, everybody is clear on what they need to do, and there is no ambiguity about picking up the wrong things. We're trying to upscale our dealers; the digital radio systems are complicated to them, so if you can explain it in a straightforward way, they can learn from that and see the right way to project-manage it. I think that D3M is the forefront to a project management tool. We can all sit there and say this is the road map to this project, this is what we need to have into place to be able to carry out the project and it has a lot of clarity to a complex set of things to do.
Would you recommend D3M to your distribution Channel?
I certainly have done so already because I'm a Motorola authorized technical trainer, I go out and do training with the dealers. I always incorporate D3M in that training. This is what you need to do for your project to be successful, your customer actually thinks you know what you're doing properly.
I don't go to my boss all that often to pull his arm for money, but I said I absolutely must have this because the amount of time, grief and everything that it saves me, the tool has paid for itself many, many, many times over.