Jonathan Pinchbeck, C.E.T. is a 2013 graduate of Niagara College’s Mechanical Engineering Technology program and spent one year with Research & Innovation as a Research Assistant. Since April 2018, Jonathan has headed up the R&D at Deville Technologies in Ville St. Laurent, Quebec, a designer of high-capacity industrial food cutting systems.
Tell us about where you work:
Currently, I’m working for Deville Technologies in Ville St-Laurent, QC near Montreal. It is a Canadian company more than 25-years strong. The company designs and sells automated high-capacity industrial food cutting systems (shredding, grating, portioning, dicing, secondary dosing, conveyance) at rates of up to six tons/hr per process line (some clients have multiple lines). Our client base is in Canada, US and Europe for a variety of products (dairy, fruit and vegetable, meats).
Describe your role and what you like about it:
As Deville’s R&D Technologist, I’m mainly responsible for researching, designing, and testing prototype machinery. I also help grow the department (currently two people: lab tech and myself), curate and build intellectual property, manage progress of R&D projects, help to increase our testing capability, investigate new components and building materials, develop pilot plants and processes, test rig design and automation, as well as help manage the tax credit process.
We’ve currently launched a machine to market that can successfully shred Edam cheese at high rates. I was directly involved in the shred chamber design and performance analysis of the machine. I also helped develop some new testing equipment to analyze force and friction in real time. I’ve got a few game changer technologies on the go right now that aren’t market ready yet. Still hush-hush.
Please give us an idea of what types of related things you’ve been doing since graduating.
My first job after graduating was working as a machine designer for a company in hydraulics and pneumatics and later as a junior project manager. Then I worked as an R&D Tech, Junior and then Senior Project Lead over a three-year period, driving projects to improve, develop, manufacture, and maintain commercial-scale rotisserie ovens used at major grocery deli counters worldwide. Then after working as a Manufacturing Specialist at an architectural LED lighting company for a year I was approached by a headhunter working for Deville and it was a perfect fit.
How has your experience with R&I helped prepare you for your current role?
By exposing me to the research process first hand professionally, while still in college, it gave me the tools, perspective, and perseverance needed for that type of work early on and opened those doors down the road. I can easily now boast five years working in some kind of function related to research for product development since graduating; this easily puts me on top of the list when trying to apply and perform those kinds of jobs.
A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?
There were two main ones I worked on: one was a project with W.S. Tyler, helping them make improvements to their machinery for looming steel. We designed a fixture for a vision inspection system, a sturdy rack to assist tensioning of the in-fed steel wire, as well as improvements to the loom frame and an embedded wheel to reduce wear and machine downtime.
I also worked on a project with Ryan Industrial Technologies. It was a prototype machine for proof-of-concept for an automated system to pressure injected heated topping asphalt to fill potholes. I designed the heated mixer, screw conveyor, and hydraulic injection head assembly. Ryan IT handled the trailer and gantry design. I also reverse engineered, redesigned and recommissioned the manifolds and hydraulic power unit (HPU) with the owner and inventor of the application, Bill Ryan. We went to Princess Auto together to get all the fittings and size the hydraulic hoses needed to get it to work.
What led you to Niagara College in the first place?
They were very responsive with my education, known for being very supportive of their students, and was rated highest in that time for student satisfaction.
“Never stop learning or seeking opportunities. Be hungry. Don’t settle for anything.”
Most memorable experience at NC?
Cramming for design projects late at night with peers to make deadlines. Eureka moments when programming PLCs to get an application to work a certain way and it actually works as intended. Long hours in the robotics and flexible manufacturing lab. Great debates with teachers on the realities of industry, technological trends, the job market and politics. Too much pizza and coffee just to get by. Oh and it was when the Harlem Shuffle was happening in schools everywhere before it went mainstream.
A faculty member who influenced you?
They all did. At school and at Research & Innovation. For school I got a lot from Rick Baldin, Neil Walker, and Lois Johnson. I learned the most from them. At R&I it was Costa Aza, Rick Baldin, and Brian Mewhiney I learned the most from, as well as our clients Bill Ryan (Ryan IT) and Wilm Schulz (W.S.Tyler). Tremendous wisdom there collectively and not enough space here to describe well enough to give it justice.
What advice would you impart on current research students or future alumni?
Get ‘yer hands dirty. Take design outside of the office. Experiment, learn, and make decisions from hard data. Go out and see what heavy industry is like in the workforce first before making conclusions about your field. Also, seek a specialization or cross-over field knowledge. I’ve been pushing industrial automation technical studies part-time on the side for a few years now and is complementary to what I do. It has opened so many doors as well. It helps when collaborating in cross-disciplinary teams to understand these technologies, opportunities and their limits first hand.
After being in the workforce, what have you learned?
Never stop learning or seeking opportunities. Be hungry. Don’t settle for anything.
Proudest achievement since graduating?
Getting this job, which is a culmination of everything I’ve worked on, studied for, and took extra training to get to.
Interests outside of work?
Brazilian Jiujitsu, new tech, guitar, politics, and of course my girlfriend lol.
If you could have a billboard message seen by many, what would it say?
Anything else you want to say?
I’m grateful for the experiences NC and R&I have provided me, which helped ready me for where I am today. Cheers guys.