End , begining at No 15
It is very important that having completed the studies in electronics and physics, our young specialists are provided possibilities to use and develop their knowledge and skills, or otherwise, to grow professionally. It is important to promote intellectual production and entrepreneurship.
A. Rupšys. I’m happy that in Lithuania we can prepare good specialists of electronics, microcontrollers or embedded systems. Some of them come to Ruptela where they can apply their knowledge. At the same time, they benefit the company, and the state.
What employee selection criteria do you apply? Do they find you themselves, or does Ruptela search for its employees?
A. Rupšys. At first it was difficult because we were looking for employees who would be acquainted with some specific activity. Currently, we focus on human factor rather than on professional skills. First of all, a person must be willing to work. If he sees everything in black colours, and does not have motivation to work – we will not be able to help him. We are looking for people that have specific objectives, are willing to realize their potential, implement their ideas, and are willing to cooperate with the colleagues. This is the kind of employee that is suitable for us. Of course, professional background is also important. I do not want to offend anyone but a person looking for a job who does not know the difference between a resistor and a condenser – such a person will not suit us. College or a university can provide knowledge but they also need to be perceived.
In our employee selection, we cooperate with universities. This year, we have decided to take on some trainees. Our staff manager Neringa Smailienė has recently visited one of the universities. We invite students to come to the company and see how we work here, what tasks do we solve. In a workplace and having been assigned certain tasks, students acquire invaluable experience. After the internship, we will be happy to employ the most capable ones.
Is it beneficial to take on complete novices for internship?
A. Rupšys. Within a period of six years, we did not actually have true trainees. We used to recruit 3rd -4th year students, who worked part time or in the evenings. They were performing certain tasks and also had their practice approved. Now we will try to invite true trainees who will do the work necessary for the company.
Your company is also called a company that works in the area of information technologies.
A. Rupšys. We have a bit of everything, however, if we look deeper, electronics and information technologies should be separated. Engineers of microcontrollers and embedded systems mostly work with hardware while programming of servers, designing of websites, and network portals is the tasks for separate groups that have different qualifications. Similarly is with students’ qualifications: some of them study in the faculties of electronics or physics, and specialists of information technologies have usually acquired a specialty in mathematics or computer science. On the other hand, specialists of electronics that work with microcontrollers are programmers of microcontrollers after all. They have knowledge both in electronics and programming. There are few companies in the country that deal only with the tasks of “pure” electronics.
Constant need to think
How rapidly changes electronics, at least the one Ruptela is interested in?
A. Rupšys. It changes extremely rapidly, and innovations must be constantly applied to our services. During the years from the establishment of Ruptela, the best devices used back there and the ones we use now are completely different. Current models perform three times more functions, are smaller in size, and have different technologies inside. Accordingly, the prices also dropped three times. What I want to say is that we do not undergo revolutions every day but we are constantly forced to adapt to innovations.
Is it easy to catch up with time?
A. Rupšys. It is not enough to catch up with time, I would say. In order to compete successfully, we have to be ahead at least a half of a step.
As I understand, this is exactly where you are regarding the fact you are planning to visit close to twenty exhibitions within a year.
A. Rupšys. In business, you either make it or you are out. If three years ago we didn’t do what we are selling now, most probably, we wouldn’t have survived. If today we wouldn’t be doing things we will need after three years, the future would seem sad. This period of three years is only relative; it does not mean that for three years, you can use the general baggage of knowledge and skills. At least in our business of telecommunications, we need to develop constantly.
When I learned what kind of electronics and systems are put into trucks, I thought “Can there be any further progress? It is already enough, you only need to use the possibilities provided?
A. Rupšys. There are lots of nuances, even in terms of the cost of equipment. In ten years, the price of these systems has reduced 5-6 times in the world. Moreover, things that have been manufactured 10 years ago cannot be sold today because we would be forced to offer them at the originally higher price because of the price of the components. Whether we want it or not, we have to move to newer and cheaper technologies. For example, we have learned about the global navigation system GLONASS launched in Russia (Russian ГЛОНАСС – Глобальная навигационная спутниковая система). Everyone is striving to put this GLONASS to the trucks, and we are also concerned with satisfying the needs of our clients. 10 years ago, the volumes of cars and electronics as well as embedded systems were significantly lower. There was no hardware to connect these systems to. Before these 10 years, certain standards were agreed, and as a result, we need to develop a device of new generation to read out these data.
Another example is installation of digital tachographs into cars. Again, a device is needed to connect to such tachograph and read out the data. Tachograph records data required for Road Transport Inspectorate under the directives of European Union, however, in order to retrieve data additional interfaces are required as well as higher power in controllers, and additional software, etc. Here, embedded systems are indispensible.
There was a need to monitor fuel consumption in cars; for this purpose, additional floats are installed into fuel tanks. We have some clients that need to monitor temperature in complex refrigerating equipment built into modern trucks. Let’s imagine that a refrigerator in a truck refrigerates 10 m3 of volume, and temperature sensor is installed in the upper part of this volume. There may be completely different temperature at the bottom, front or rear parts of the truck. The difference may be 2 to 3 oC, which can have s significant impact on temperature-sensitive cargo. The client requests not one or several additional sensors but to receive precise data from refrigerating equipment. And inside this equipment, there is factory equipment, and a computer operating under its own protocol. Thus, there is some work to do because equipments becomes more complex similarly as the needs of our clients.
How about the drivers? Do these systems make life easier or more complex? It is unlikely that a person is very happy when his every step is observed, recorded and controlled.
A. Rupšys. For the owners of the companies, it is important to reduce the costs of freight, and little would doubt that this is made on the account of the drivers. Ruptela also has some orders from the state: we work for the benefit of the transport systems of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. We also work for private clients that are concerned for their transport means are used for the purpose, and seek to prevent possible abuses. Apparently, the telecommunication satellite systems we install prevent from falsifying mileage and fuel consumption. This gives huge benefits for the company. In a company, all the employees, including accountants, lawyers, and managers as well as drivers must perform their work responsibly. The same can be said about the work each of us performs. If an employer pays a fair wage, an employee’s duty is to stay fair at work. We help to implement this principle. If a company is incurring losses due to employee frauds, then it is natural for a employer to take action.
In Lithuania, we still sometimes hear a saying “Employer pretends he is paying a salary, and employee pretends he is working…”
A. Rupšys. Indeed, we sometimes hear that the amount of fuel the driver “saves” in his favour is not quite official supplement to his earnings. However, if employer understands he is paying not enough, then what does prevent him from paying the amount he should pay? In this way, we would prevent shadow economy. Thus, an expeditor would be paid 7 thousand instead of 5 thousand, and employers will know the real situation in their companies and businesses. This wouls only improve the situation in the company. After all, both employer and employees will feel acting as honest persons.
An example of benefits provided by innovations
We are approaching the end of our conversation, and it would be a nice thing to hear some interesting, exotic and funny event from the rich activity of the company Ruptela not to seem over self-cantered and boring.
A. Rupšys. I will tell you some revealing rather than funny event. Five years ago, we had a client from Belarus. The client decided to install our systems and reduce its freight costs. However, the clients doubted whether the system offered will pay off. Our installer went to install the systems into 10 cars. He went to the site and saw the trucks standing, beside were the drivers standing and discussing something. They would not let our installer to do his job telling they still have something to settle… All the vehicles were prepared for departing to Kazakhstan with all the accompanying documents, they only things missing in the trucks were the drivers. However, the drivers did not notice that, our equipment was, however, connected to the board computer of one truck. The installer called me and asked to check if our system can show what the drivers are willing to do.
We entered our monitoring system in Vilnius and were surprised by what we saw. The mileage shown on the computer at 2 p.m. was 157 thousand kilometres, and 5 minutes later, the mileage was already 158 thousand kilometres although the car was not moving. This means the drivers had installed an impulse generator that transmits impulses to board computer to generate the required mileage. This is how they do it.
Of course, we have immediately contacted the executives of the transport company and informed them how they have been led by their noses. Drivers did not even need to steal fuel because board computer showed significantly higher mileage. How can one not believe the readings of the devices? The company has been constantly fooled.
This story shows that on the day our system was installed, the investment has not only bought off but also provided additional income. This was beneficial both for Ruptela: the mentioned company from the neighbouring country has been using our latest systems and never negotiate the prices. This was a real-life example of the benefits that can be provided by innovations. It was unbelievable even for ourselves.
Can you offer a system to help fighting with endless smuggling across state borders?
A. Rupšys. The system of fighting smuggling is very clear: it has to be in place. Unfortunately, it is not there. Sometimes, smart electronics and embedded systems are not required to manage simple things. If there is volition, there will be results.
We will end our conversation by wishing each other such volition.
Interviewed Gediminas Zemlickas