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Developing products on the fly – RCT

By CCIWA Editor 

Smart technology company RCT has already made the shift from a mechanical and hardware offering to becoming a software-based business.

The company’s extensive product range includes semi-autonomous and fully autonomous solutions, network communications, protection systems, fleet management and electronics.

Advancing this technology is at the heart of what it means to survive in a rapidly changing world. Yet up until the late 2000s, no one in the 1972-established company had any need to write a line of code.

The company’s extensive product range includes semi-autonomous and fully autonomous solutions, network communications, protection systems, fleet management and electronics.

Advancing this technology is at the heart of what it means to survive in a rapidly changing world. Yet up until the late 2000s, no one in the 1972-established company had any need to write a line of code.

To keep pace, CEO Brett White says the company has a number of methods up its sleeve to stay on top of the market and improve its offer.

One of the most important is RCT’s internal ‘Wiki’, a knowledge base compiled by taking everything out of people’s heads and putting it into a database for everyone to use.

“It’s an absolute doyenne of knowledge. We access it like an intranet and it’s someone’s job to look after the Wiki. Wherever we can, we share everything so everyone knows how their job contributes to the business.

“We’re fortunate that the entire business from the admin support down to the techs and everywhere in between use our Wiki voraciously.”

White says because RCT is not just product-based, how the business is structured and ensuring efficiencies are also a priority.

“It’s a continuous evolution for us to be at the crest of the wave to keep on top of those changes because it is moving so fast,” he says.

“We run lots of projects in serial. We decided to establish what we call proof of concepts works (PoC Works) team which emanated from the old Skunk Works idea.”

The team collates input from internal stakeholders and feedback from customers and industry and has “fail fast and learn quick” as its mantra.

“That’s where we look over the horizon to make leaps in our business as well as continuing to evolve our products by innovating and exploiting new technologies. Whether it’s a new iteration, new product or new platform, it is often fed through that team.

“It’s a challenging and cutting-edge part of our business so everyone wants to be in that team. We have developed trusted partnerships with several mining companies and mining contractors who advocate and support our technology and want to test everything that comes out from our teams.

“That enables us to move fast.”

White says several teams work on the different parts of the business, such as development roadmaps, software support, PoC, operational technology and custom development for large or unique customer projects.

“One large team doesn’t work as well, we’ve found, so we broke it down and compartmentalised it. Our teams are interchangeable and moved between departments based on the skillsets required, so they are doing a variety of things and that also allows us to accelerate or product development.

“It’s important to get the roadmaps right and we are of a size where we can turn on a dime. We’re not stuck in a four or eight-year road map that is hard to change.”

White says the days of developing what you hoped the customer wanted are long gone with feedback available from customers during testing allowing the company to get the product right.

“It used to be easier when things were technologically simpler, and it was easier to get onto mine sites. Now, we don’t design and develop anything we don’t know the market wants and more importantly needs to add value to their business.

“We spend millions of dollars every year on developing products so it’s incumbent on the Directors to make sure it’s relevant in the market.”

With RCT’s products being customisable and able to interface to any machine type, make or model, it means we are both a competitor and a customer of large Original Equipment Manufacturers.

“It’s an interesting place to be and we continually keep top of mind where we are relevant, where the industry and technology is going and where we need to position ourselves,” he says.

“Otherwise you can end up in the realms of the blackberries and the like, where you haven’t been keeping up, you’ve cash cowed your product and the technology has moved a full step ahead of you leaving you redundant.”

Smart technology company RCT has already made the shift from a mechanical and hardware offering to becoming a software-based business.

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