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An interview with Markus Konster – Product Development Manager at Atexor OY

Posted on: 10.6.2019

We recently caught up with Markus Konster who heads up our Product Development team in Finland and Markus talked to us about his long-standing passion for electrical mechanics.

What is your career background and how did you get into this line of work?

I have always had a fascination for mechatronics which combines electronics and mechanical engineering and whilst studying, I began working at a young age for a local phone company installing phone lines to homes and businesses.  After graduating, I then worked as a Service Engineer in Finn-Power Oy, which gave me huge insight and experience working with hydraulics and pneumatics and servo controls.

In 2003, an opportunity to work for Atexor (formerly named Centaurea Oy) as a Product Designer arose and the role was a great stepping stone for me to enter product development operations.  For seven years, I was involved in various activities including designing, testing and certifying new products.

As well as working as a Product Designer, I also spent a little time working on my small farm growing wheat and rapeseed which of course includes operating tractors and other farming equipment.  When I got the chance in 2011, to work as a Quality Engineer for MSK Cabins who manufacture safety cabins for Valtra tractors, I jumped at the chance to combine both of my passions.  It was during my time at MSK Cabins that I gained wider experience on quality control, 3D measuring and mechanical tolerances.

However, I returned to Atexor in 2015 when my girls started going to school so I could be closer to home.  Since then have been leading teams on research and development and recently moved into the role of Product Development Manager this year.

Tell us about your position at Atexor and describe your typical day

I currently lead a team of five and a typical day for me includes effective communication between my team, sales and production.  We are dealing with new enquiries every day and get the opportunity to customise Ex-lighting solutions for customers.  It is a very creative process, but the most important area is to keep information flowing between departments, so we meet client expectations together.

A typical day would see me meeting with the sales team and they share details of clients’ requirements.  My team then get to work on the various technical calculations and find the best solution for customer. Other days, I may be working in the laboratory measuring light parameters or temperatures of products or testing proto-type solutions.  It is a hands-on job and the best thing is that every day is different.

When you were 5 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Surprisingly I was one of those boys who wanted to take apart every toy and see what it was inside and how worked!   As I grew older and when toy mechanics became too easy for me, my parents even started to give me broken home appliances to investigate and soon I would find out how to put them back together.   In many ways, what I was interested in as a child, is the same today!

So not very different to what you do now!  Tell us what you most enjoy about the work you do today

Teamwork is the most rewarding element of my role as I work with an excellent team as well as talented outside resources who all have different skills and expertise to share.   I always feel a real sense of achievement as these elements come together and we meet and exceed client expectations.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced at Atexor and how did you overcome it? 

The biggest challenge faced me recently when I had just been promoted and we began working on a new product that was required for complex conditions.  The client wanted a very small and lightweight light that would last for years of constant use in an electronic manufacturing plant.  The 3-month schedule was very tight, and requirements included a fixed wall installation providing quality light output of 500 lumens and to be used in temperature class T6.  All of these features combined made this a challenging product development process which would normally take around 12-months.

However, I loved every moment.  A solid plan of action was developed, and we moved to the product development stage very quickly with proto-types being created on the first day.  And that is when Semic was born.  You can read more about the product here:

Can you tell us about a project you are most proud of? 

I have to say that the Semic project was my most rewarding development to date.  It was a whole team effort and I think that everyone in our team would agree that we felt a huge sense of job satisfaction when we completed this project.  Furthermore, we are seeing more customers using this new product and we are now making further client specific customisations to Semic.

How do you keep up to date on current industry trends and emerging technologies for the EX-lighting market? 

Everyone at Atexor is encouraged to use time for keeping up to date with industry trends and searching new technologies.  Whether this is done through further training or attending industry events where we get the chance to meet like-minded professionals.  We have a very enthusiastic research and development team with many years of experience in fact one team member has been with Atexor for 25 years.  Atexor has an in-house research and development workshop, light measuring and electronics lab, therefore we are actively developing emerging technologies every day.

What is the most inspiring part of your job?

The whole product development process is what inspires me.  To understand a customer’s challenge, explore their specific requirements and conditions and then begin inventing a bespoke solution brings a real sense of achievement, particularly when the certification comes through.  That is what I find inspiring.