S03E05 The engineering mindset: Creative problem-solving on production lines

Posted On: September 14, 2023

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S03E05 The engineering mindset: Creative problem-solving on production lines

In this episode, we delve into the intricacies of problem-solving, creativity in engineering, industrial automation design, and the impact of communication within an engineering team. Our guest, Malcolm Swart, Jendamark’s seasoned engineering expert, shares his insights and personal experiences, providing a fresh perspective on these topics.

The discussion kicks off with an exploration of the dichotomy between an engineering mind and a scientific mind. Malcolm illustrates this with the compelling example of water flow science and how an engineer’s creativity led to the invention of the toilet. This highlights the crucial role of problem-solving in engineering and the transformative potential of creative thinking within the field.

The conversation then shifts to the nuances of industrial automation design. Industrial automation, a key element of modern manufacturing processes, is riddled with technical challenges. Malcolm dissects these challenges, shedding light on aspects like calculating energy requirements, managing the flow of air and electricity, and dealing with the varying standards of power distribution in different countries. He underscores the importance of balancing energy consumption for maximum efficiency, an often overlooked but vital component in managing production lines.

Malcolm also shares his personal journey into the realm of electronics, emphasizing how key conversations and relationships helped him access the resources he needed to develop his skills. He points out that understanding the customer’s scope and asking the right questions is crucial to avoiding mistakes and ensuring the successful implementation of engineering projects.



Jendamark’s technical expert Malcolm Swart is an experienced senior control system engineer, and has been working in the industrial automation space for more than a decade. He channels his creative problem-solving abilities into developing world-class production lines and, more recently, into ODIN Manufacturing software solutions development and embedded design.

Malcolm’s capacity for self-reflection, resilience in the face of obstacles, and his determined approach to his personal and professional development make him an inspiring and informative guest. He holds an N5-level qualification in electrical and electronics engineering from Port Elizabeth College.


00:00 – Introduction

08:20 – Engineering thinking

11:52 – Coping with academic setbacks

12:48 – Industrial automation design

21:33 – Robotics training and financial challenges

25:03 – Distributed control systems and communication protocols

28:15 – Machine-to-machine communication

36:02 – Following customer specifications

40:05 – Safety planning and experience

43:08 – Internal transformation and self-improvement

49:35 – Interlocks in logic programming

53:02 – Challenges and development of a custom communication protocol

01:00:52 – Lessons on never giving up