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SL Controls Engineers Start New Primary School Engineering Programme

Two SL Controls Engineers, Andrew Ryan and Volker Winhausen, have started a new 10-week STEAM programme. They are teaching engineering principles to 5th class primary school pupils at Youghalarra National School in Nenagh, County Tipperary, Ireland.

STEAM is an organisation that delivers programmes in partnership with industry to inspire children in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, and maths. The initiative with the class of children in Tipperary is the fourth STEAM programme that SL Controls engineers have been involved with.

Volker Winhausen, Systems Architect at SL Controls, said: “Inspiring the next generation of engineers has always been important for us at SL Controls. We believe it is the responsibility of all stakeholders in the engineering sector to not only provide information, but to also show how engineering is fun, challenging, and rewarding.”

Andrew Ryan, Senior Validation Engineer at SL Controls, said: “We have completed the first lesson of a 10-week programme and the children at Youghalarra are fantastic. They were enthusiastic about everything that we did and really enjoyed the practical elements of the lesson. Volker and I are looking forward to working with the kids and exploring new engineering topics with them over the next couple of months.”

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Meeting Tomorrow’s Engineers at Explore Engineering 2024

Explore Engineering 2024 took place at Shannon Airport in Clare last week and the event was a huge success. The engineering showcase continues to go from strength to strength as young people and their families meet engineering companies in the region to explore the potential career opportunities that exist in the engineering sector.

Deirdre Loughlin, Quality Lead at SL Controls said: “It gets busier and busier at Explore Engineering every year and it is one of the events we all look forward to. We were talking to people right up until the end at 9 o’clock.

“It is important to promote engineering as a career to as many young people as possible and to show the diversity that exists in this sector – diversity in terms of opportunity and diversity in terms of the people working in engineering.

“Explore Engineering does this as well as any other event and it is great to be involved. It was also great to see, meet, and talk with so many young people looking at engineering as a future career.”

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International Women’s Day 2024: Inspiring Inclusion in Engineering

Today is International Women’s Day and the theme this year is Inspire Inclusion. It is a theme that we fully support here at SL Controls, and it is part of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy.

To mark International Women’s Day 2024 and this year’s theme, we spoke to some of SL Controls’ female employees to get their views on inspiring inclusion.

Diane Maher, Systems Engineer

“I was the only female in the student body for engineering in my institution for the first three years of my degree. There was some hesitation from me at the start, but as time went on, I realised I was here to complete my studies, not to fit in. I think it’s important to realise we are all on our own journey.

“I think change begins in the attitude of the female engineer, in building confidence and strength. That also means getting women more comfortable with the fact there are still more men than women in the engineering industry. Hopefully, that will continue to change.

“Campaigns like Inspire Inclusion help us to feel noticed for some pitfalls we may come across and highlighting Inclusion is especially important. Sometimes we can feel left out by default, as horrible as a feeling that is, we can conquer it by coming together in female groups of our own to empower and instil confidence in each other.

“To make engineering more inclusive for women I think the industry should do more to support women and help them get a good start in their careers. We also need to make women engineers more visible. When I was researching my course there wasn’t much online as what was there was from America. It is better today but we still need to see women engineers more and more to take account and detail of the female experience.

“It is important to teach girls about the benefits of engineering when they are young. I was introduced to engineering myself at a young age. Realising how much it blended with my skills and my interests so young helped me make the decision down the line.

“My view is that women bring different skills to the table and diversity in general is beneficial for everyone. Diversity is what makes us stronger, so that’s why inclusion is important.”

Nav Dharni, Project Manager

“I graduated with a master’s in chemical engineering in England in 2018 and began my career on an engineering leadership graduate scheme working in the gas and electricity industry. I got exposure to a lot of different areas of engineering during this time, so it was a good experience for me.

“But I could see the stereotype still existed that engineering is a career dominated by men. Around 75 percent of my university course was male, and I am now in a team at work that is 85 percent male. My experience at university was good and it has reflected and prepared me for what the engineering industry would look like.

“I think awareness on what engineering careers look like needs to start at school as there is not enough awareness. An engineer is not just someone who wears PPE and spends their time outside. I’m primarily desk-based most of the time, so the perception is different from the reality. My experience has shown engineering is inclusive for women and I have not felt disadvantaged. But there is lad banter, and as a female in the industry, you learn to have to tolerate it.
“Change has to happen from the top down. I am seeing a shift in leadership roles where there are more female leaders in engineering departments now. That will inspire more females to come into the industry. There are challenges, but there are so many exciting opportunities for women in engineering.”

Shauna Ryan, Director of People and Culture

“Inclusion and inspiring inclusion are very important, and it is something that we continuously need to work at. One of the things I cover in our diversity, equity, and inclusion training at SL Controls is perception versus intent. When engaging with others, it is not our intent that is the key element but the perception from the other side. My advice is if you think something will offend another person, don’t say it.

“So, everyone has a responsibility to make the workplace more inclusive, but we also have to continue our collective efforts across the industry to improve the gender balance. The thing that will accelerate change faster than anything else is having more female engineers. And it will be a snowball effect. If you want to be it, you have to see it. The more women there are in engineering the more they will be seen and the more inspiration there will be for other females to pursue an engineering career.”

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Meet the Team: Diane Maher

1. Describe your job as if you were explaining it to a five-year-old.

I help machines and robots that make everyday items like your toys. I make sure the machines are running well, with no problems.

2. What types of projects are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on a project implementing upgrades to bring production lines up to EU Medical Device Regulations. Certain parameters related to barcodes and text printed on the packaging must follow a defined format and include specific information to allow better traceability.

3. How did you get into the industry?

After a lot of pedantic deliberation in 5th year of school, I stumbled upon the Industrial Automation course at TUS (Technological University of the Shannon in Ireland). I drew the similarity between that and my favourite TV show, How It’s Made. It ended up being the perfect intersection of software, hardware, electrical, and programming that suited me.

As college progressed, I grew a fondness for PLC programming and knew I’d like to pursue a career to develop my skills in this area. Automation in general is such a versatile choice of career, with many different types of automation being present in the world around us.

4. What is your proudest moment (work life or personal life)?

My proudest moment so far has been building my final year project for my course in TUS. I built a conveyor which could sort Lego blocks by size and colour. Bringing the project from a blank page to functional and running was an amazing feeling.

5. What’s the best advice you could give to someone thinking of coming into this industry?

Engineering can be an intimidating choice in general. If you have any kind of interest in engineering I would pursue it, as there are so many avenues you can specialise in.

When it comes down to it, it doesn’t take a genius, just someone who is willing to put in the time to gain understanding. I think the greater the ambition, the greater the outcome. My end goal with my career is to feel like I’m enjoying my work so much it doesn’t feel like work, and I’ve achieved that.

Automation is very versatile, and you’ll end up working with many different technologies and programs. It always feels new and fresh and there’s so much to learn.

6. Outside of work, what are you most passionate about?

I like tinkering with technology in my own time with devices like the Raspberry Pi and Arduino. I’ve also recently built my first PC. The next project I want to start is figuring out how I can build a small home server. I also like video games of all types, especially retro games.

7. What’s the best thing about working for life sciences customers (pharma, MedTech, etc)?

Knowing I’m making an impact in an important sector. I know I have to maintain a high level of accuracy and detail and I like practicing this every day by default. Pharma is constantly developing and growing so the job opportunities are excellent.

8. What is the best thing about being on the SL Controls team?

The team is kind and supportive. With lots of different personalities, we can all use our strengths to work towards each shared goal. Along with that, we can have a couple of laughs along the way. I feel great pride in my work from finishing an install with the team.

There’s always space for improvement and development also, and everyone is open to suggestions and ways to make our structure better. I feel after joining I’ve gained a sense of independence in my work.

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SL Controls Named as a Top 20 Ignition Integrator Worldwide

Each month, Inductive Automation publishes the top integrators of its leading industrial automation platform, Ignition. For the period January to February 2024, SL Controls is 13th on the leaderboard out of more than 1,600 currently certified Ignition integrators.

SL Controls takes a customer-focused approach when recommending and selecting technology stacks, but the features, pricing structure, and overall flexibility of the Ignition platform means it is increasingly coming out on top.


Read our latest whitepaper on flattening the manufacturing stack and making the right choice of SCADA / MES platform for your facility.


Frank Quinn, Digital Transformation Executive at SL Controls, said: “Being named as one of the top 20 Ignition integrators worldwide is something we are proud of at SL Controls, and it is a testament to the continued work of our team.

“As a company, we recognise the power of the Ignition platform and the immediate and long-term benefits it offers to industry, including customers in our specialist area of life sciences manufacturing.

“For life sciences manufacturers and other industries, the Ignition platform provides a powerful foundation for the development of fully bespoke, innovative, and intelligent solutions. Tangible results, such as the digitalisation of 50 percent of paper-based processes within six months, are achievable with rapid returns on investment.

“We will continue to invest in training for even more members of our team. Based on the current leaderboard, we are a top-3 Gold Certified Ignition integrator, and we also plan to achieve Premier integrator status by the end of Q1 2024.”

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SL Controls at Explore Engineering 2024 – We Hope to See You There

If you or someone close to you is considering a career in engineering, make sure you have 7 March 2024 in your diary. That is the date of the Explore Engineering Showcase in Limerick.

SL Controls has been a proud supporter of Explore Engineering for several years and the team is looking forward to going again this year. We are making final preparations to our setup, so make sure you drop by to say hello and learn more about what we do at SL Controls.

Explore Engineering is for students, graduates, teachers, and parents. It is at Shannon Airport and parking is free. We hope to see you there.

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Engaging the Next Generation of Engineers

Two members of the SL Controls team, Chief Technology Officer Paul Clarke and Talent Acquisition & Onboarding Associate Aoife Burns, recently completed a 10-week STEAM teaching programme with a class of primary school children from Strandhill National School.

STEAM is an organisation that partners with companies like SL Controls to deliver fun and interactive classes to children on engineering, technology, science, and maths topics.

“The children in the class had some good understandings of the concepts we covered and talked about,” said Paul. “Kids today are very savvy with technology and can look information up so easily, so we were able to see how they were not just responding to what we were doing, but also investigating the topics for themselves. That was really brilliant to see.

“The mediums we presented the information through were presentations and practical exercises, but it was the practical element that the children really loved. For me, the combination of the presentation and the practical element really worked.

“And the children also had a good understanding of what engineering is and what engineers do. For example, some of them talked about the work their parents did and were able to explain the various types of engineering roles. It was great to see they were able to make the connection between what we were doing in the class and the work of their parents or relatives.”

Aoife said the open attitude and approach of the children was really positive. She said: “The kids were so enthusiastic, and they were not in any way afraid of asking questions. As we get older, we have a tendency to start thinking that some questions are stupid, so we stop asking them. But no questions are stupid, and it was refreshing to see the children in the class asking whatever they wanted.”

Aoife added that it was rewarding for her and Paul as well as being enjoyable for the children. She said: “I have never taught before, so it was nice to do something different. For me, the whole experience was great, and I found it very rewarding and fulfilling being able to make a positive impact on children. I have no doubt some of them will blossom into engineers at some stage in the future.”

Paul agreed. He said: “When we asked who wanted to be an engineer when they grow up, a load of them put their hands up. It was also great for Aoife and me as every day we arrived, big roars went up from the children because they were so enthusiastic.

“Also, for me, it was an interesting change from my professional role to take on an educational role. In my day-to-day when talking to my peers, the language can be very complex. Discussing engineering topics with children was a great grounding experience and I think it has made me better able to communicate what we do as a company to people who are non-technical. So, I think the kids got a lot from the experience, but I did too.”

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Meet the Team: Johnpaul Nwachukwu

1. Describe your job as if you were explaining it to a five-year-old.

In my role as a Systems Engineer, I harness cutting-edge technologies, including data, software, and hardware, and seamlessly incorporate them into an existing platform and system to increase efficiency.

2. What types of projects are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently involved with an autonomous intelligent vehicle (AIV), essentially a mobile robot. I’m in the process of developing a demonstration to showcase how the robots can move around in the plant. My long-term objective is to enable the robot to interact with the personnel at the customer’s plant. The goal is to familiarise operators with the robot’s autonomous capabilities.

Regarding the robot’s intended tasks, I aim to simplify the work of the plant engineers when it comes to transporting heavy raw materials from the storage area to the production lines. Ultimately, our primary objective is to minimise the downtime associated with engineers having to manually transport pallets or boxes around the plant.

3. How did you get into the industry?

I was given the ability to upskill myself in the last three years. This proves the concept that competencies can be enhanced wherever you are in the world. Shane (Shane Loughlin, SL Controls co-founder and Chief Digital Architect) gave me the ability to upskill myself back in Nigeria. Upskilling myself presented opportunities for coming over to Ireland to work.

4. What is your proudest moment (work life or personal life)?

My proudest moments occur whenever I achieve a goal. This can happen daily, and it’s that exhilarating “eureka moment” when I realise that my efforts have paid off, and everything is functioning as intended. For instance, at work or in my comfort zone, when I’m writing a complex program and it performs flawlessly, that’s when I feel the most content.

5. What’s the best advice you could give to someone thinking of coming into this industry?

I recommend that you remain open to continuous learning. Whether you’re receiving advice, encountering new technologies, or engaging with new ideas, be ready to learn and benefit from the knowledge and experiences of others. Learning from people, and understanding their perspectives, cultures, and ways of life is essential for personal growth and progress.

6. Outside of work, what are you most passionate about?

Gaming! I love gaming, so I play games a lot when I am free. I love cars too – reading up on cars, and technologies around cars. And finally, music, I play the keyboard.

7. What’s the best thing about working for life sciences customers (pharma, MedTech, etc)?

The ability to help someone, somewhere, that you do not know – helping them indirectly. Trying to solve a problem is the thing I find most interesting when working in the life sciences sector.

8. What is the best thing about being on the SL Controls team?

SL Controls is, to me personally, more than a team – I would call it a family in the sense that you can interact with people easily. It is so smooth that you can easily talk to anyone. If you have problems or need advice, there is a network where everyone is connected.

Finally, it is a place where your skills are maximized as you upskill yourself in every area.

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The SL Controls Team – A Year in Review

It has been a busy and interesting year for the SL Controls team as we welcomed new colleagues and got to know our existing colleagues better. Here are some of the stories we published throughout 2023 that give an insight into the people who make SL Controls the team and company it is.

Embracing Equity at SL Controls on International Women’s Day

Embracing Equity at SL Controls on International Women's Day

“The Embrace Equity message is very powerful and it’s one we should all be aware of. At SL Controls, we support equity both in theory and practice, as we work hard to treat everyone as an individual.” – Shauna Ryan

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Celebrating SL Controls Female Engineers on International Women in Engineering Day 2023

Celebrating SL Controls Female Engineers on International Women in Engineering Day 2023

“I’d like young women to know that their personalities and strengths are required and valued by the best engineering companies. Diverse experiences and backgrounds really do promote innovation.” – Patricia Cowley

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Celebrating Fathers Working at SL Controls

Celebrating Fathers Working at SL Controls

“The most fun thing about being a Dad has got to be answering questions like ‘where are the Gruffalos?’ during a visit to the Zoo.” – Dermot McMorrow

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International Men’s Day at SL Controls – Building Mental Resilience

International Men’s Day at SL Controls – Building Mental Resilience

“Winning and losing in sports over the years has also helped me build up my mental resilience. How you come back from losing in a big game, for example, and how you cope with high-pressure situations.” – Keith Moran

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Celebrating Diwali

We asked members of the SL Controls team celebrating #Diwali earlier this year what this annual festival means to them.

Giving Back to Our Communities

Supporting Our Local Communities this Christmas

Various members of the SL Controls took part in a range of activities throughout 2023 to give back to our local communities. We have raised money for Ballybunion Sea and Cliff Rescue and the Children’s Health Foundation and donated Christmas gifts to children via St. Vincent de Paul. Our engineers have also spent time in primary schools delivering Engineering in a Box lessons as part of the STEAM Education initiative.

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Team Building in Athlone

SL Controls Company Outing 2023

Earlier in 2023, the SL Controls team enjoyed urban adventure team-building activities in Athlone.

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Meet the Team

Throughout 2023, we have published Q&As with various members of the SL Controls team. Here’s what each of them said about working on the SL Controls team:

Shane McLaughlin, Director of Client & Business Services

“The people – that’s the obvious one.” Read More

Shane McLaughlin
Eamonn McManus Eamonn McManus, Operations Manager

“There is also a great sense of camaraderie in the team.” Read More

Blessing Nwachukwu, Systems Engineer

“It is a community, and the people are highly intelligent and brilliant.” Read More

Blessing Nwachukwu
Kristian Fitzgerald Kristian Fitzgerald, Systems Architect

“The team here is very supportive.” Read More

Josh Morris, Systems Engineer

“Everyone is so friendly and helpful, and I can reach out to anyone with any questions I have.” Read More

Josh Morris
Jisa Varghese Jisa Varghese, Systems Engineer

“Another added advantage is resolving issues together and discovering different ways of solving the same issue.” Read More

Bryan Slevin, Validation Engineer

“They are a nice bunch of people, very knowledgeable, very willing to share knowledge.” Read More

Bryan Slevin
Paul Clarke Paul Clarke, Chief Technology Officer

“The support structures and expertise… are really down to the people who work in our business who support and mentor each other.” Read More

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