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MultiTech: Embedding Connectivity for the Unconnected
Gregg Zastrow, Senior Manager for Programs & Partnerships
The electric utility industry is facing a plethora of challenges today. While on one hand, the existing technology has been changing at a constant pace, which has made it very difficult for the industry to adapt and transform, on the other hand, a rapidly retiring workforce has left the industry stretched as it has been difficult to replace them with competent personnel. Further, the innovative number of ways to produce energy and feed it into the grid has grown, creating a situation where the distributed energy resources are being integrated into the utility network. “Ultimately, it is up to the utilities to ensure operational quality and security,” says Gregg Zastrow, senior manager for programs and partnership at MultiTech. This need coupled with the demand to integrate existing disparate technologies has made it nearly impossible for utilities to manage their networks.
By delivering an arsenal of different communication devices—boxed, embedded, LPWA—MultiTech offers electric utility companies solutions that can connect various components in a network through Ethernet, USB or Serial to next-generation wireless networks like 4G LTE and LoRaWAN. Connecting legacy and future technologies make it easier for new personnel to learn and operate. Further, as the underlying network technology for the utility changes, MultiTech continues to evolve its products. “A customer can be using one of our routing or IoT products without the need to replace it for a long time as we would update it according to the change that transpires in the carrier network technology, and at the same time, would also keep the standard features and functions,” states Zastrow.
Another predicament that Multi-Tech solves for the electric utility industry is the rising threat of cybersecurity.
We manufacture our equipment in the U.S., which gives us the unique capability to customize our product and validate it in a shorter period of time
The company updates the products’ features according to the latest standards and regulations, which secures them from the existing security threats. Having been involved in various early proofs-of-concept for emerging technologies in the utility space, Multi-Tech follows a nimble and close-knit collaboration approach for its clients and delivers customized solutions and services that best fit the client’s needs. “We have a self-owned design subsidiary which offers full-blown IoT operational design. Through this, we can work with the customers to tailor a certain specification of the product,” Zastrow says, adding, “One of the ways that we operationalize this is that we manufacture our equipment in the U.S., which gives us the unique capability to customize our product and validate it in a shorter period of time.”
In addition, Multi-Tech also offers various professional services, which allows its client to deploy and configure solutions with zero-touch implementation. In one instance, MultiTech assisted a utility client in connecting the different elements of their distribution network. The firm worked closely with its clients to provide them with a common solution that interfaced with other products in their network. “We wanted to provide a consistent solution across various network areas, and we did it by creating a common installation process and solution,” explains Zastrow.
What really differentiates MultiTech is their experience and expertise that span over four decades. The firm has covered substantial ground in these years and has established itself as a go-to solution provider in the electric utility industry. Moving forward, MultiTech aims to bring more innovation and iterative improvement to its existing product portfolio as well as launch new devices built around the knowledge gathered from the customers. On the engineering side, the firm is working on exciting opportunities that would serve the electric utility industry in all its future needs.
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