Adam Ford, Special Projects Lead at Harvest Technology Group.
Joining the Harvest Team in 2020, Special Projects Lead Adam Ford knows what it’s like to work in the most remote locations. An electrician by trade, Adam has extensive experience in Harvest’s key sectors from ROV operations to technical support and remote operation centre development. Now Adam manages Harvest’s special projects to solve the unsolvable for Harvest’s customers and transition them from traditional to remote operations.
Joined Harvest: 2020
Qualifications: Qualified Electrician and Project Manager
Tell us about your role and what you’re responsible for at Harvest.
I oversee and execute special projects at Harvest. Customers will approach us with a problem, and my job as Special Projects Lead is to help design a solution using our current applications and interfaces, augment them to suit requirements or propose a new concept to solve the problem. I’m responsible for solution architecture, scope creation, schedule, budget, and reporting progress effectively as well as leading other team members to deliver the project.
What kind of special projects have you been involved with?
A great example was Harvest’s Inmarsat Aviation project which involved mounting and interfacing a broadband global area network (BGAN ) satellite terminal, encoder, sensors, and new power distribution onto a small multirotor drone – DJI M600 – so the drone could be controlled via satellite and stream live video anywhere in the world. This project showcased how Harvest’s software could enable streaming over low bandwidth terminals along with various other technical and safety considerations involved in mounting a satellite terminal on a drone. An example of this is the mechanical design, weight distribution and assessment of radio interference between devices on the drone to make sure it wouldn’t fall out of the sky! This project took over six months and is the first of its kind to stream live video with control capabilities from a satellite terminal in less than 15kg of total airborne hardware.
What led you to join Harvest?
I was connected to Jimmy Dean and Jaron Warburton through my previous role at Fugro Australia, so was very familiar with Harvest’s mission and the technology in setting up a remote operations centre and programs. This aligned with my passion for innovation, as well as my personal desire to reduce time offshore. The idea of having a more tangible impact in a smaller organisation and seeing growth directly from that was another key driver for me.
What led you to this type of role?
I worked in offshore and marine services for 12 years, working my way up from operating remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to superintendent and then to a vessel management position, which involved working in remote locations for weeks and months at a time. When my daughter was born, I wanted to work closer to home, so I moved into a technical support role creating new tooling and procedures for subsea operations. That evolved to leading the needs assessment, conceptual design, specification and finally the build of a new remote operations centre in Perth, and then setting up remote operations centres globally for Fugro. This has given me a very good understanding of what it is like to work remotely and what it takes for businesses to transition to remote operations, which is core to what Harvest does.
What got you into technology? Was it something you were always interested in?
I always loved technology from a young age, I was 7 years old when I pulled my first remote control car motor apart and rewired it to get it to go faster after reading a science magazine! I’ve always had a desire to take things apart, understand them, possibly improve them, or change their function all together. I trained as an electrician and upskilled learning instrumentation, programmable logic controllers, and hydraulics. I enjoyed the idea of working with ROVs, so I transitioned to working in the offshore industry.
What do you love about your job?
I love being able to solve a problem a customer didn’t know how to solve or thought couldn’t be solved. Presenting ideas or solutions they haven’t considered is really satisfying, whether it be new ways of achieving the same outcome or proposing a solution that is more robust and efficient than their current way of working.
What’s the most remote location you’ve ever visited?
I spent over 12 years travelling when I was working offshore and have been to some very remote places across the globe. Offshore in Northern Russia was probably one of the most extreme locations I’ve been to. Trying to support and operate an ROV was very challenging at -17°C wind chill. Experiencing what it’s like to have no communications or the internet for up to six weeks at a time, I have a genuine appreciation for why the industry is transitioning towards remote operations and the benefits of doing so.
What’s your theory as to why a Perth company is leading the way in the remote operations space?
Being one of the most isolated cities in the world, Perth has a vested interest in connecting remote operations. Western Australia is known for its FIFO population supporting the resources and offshore industries, as well as its investment in innovative technology. With such a large FIFO community there are a lot of people in Perth who would benefit from the transition to remote operations and a lot of companies are and should be invested in making that change.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Family comes first for me; I love spending time with my wife and two daughters. Outside of work, you’ll find me playing with old and new technology, from the latest drone to working on programming microcontrollers with my daughters. I also have a 1961 EK Holden that I’ve been restoring with some hidden new technology which I’m proud of.
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