First Light

It all begins in 2009 with Australia’s CSIRO constructing the Australian Square Kilometre Array Program (ASKAP) – the world’s fastest survey radio telescope, located in the Western Australia desert.

To understand the ASKAP project is to understand the term “large scale”. Everything was bigger – from the 36 huge parabolic antennas across its remote site to the thousand million million operations per second that each receiver would perform. As a result, more than six million precision components were needed – made to not only do the job but withstand the elements.

With that many parts, CSIRO’s Platform Solution Architect Matt Shields understood the need for an advanced database system that would manage the many physical parts spread across this large infrastructure project. And so, Matt and his team created the “ASKAP Hardware Tracker” – to do precisely that. Each part could be scanned with a unique serialised ID, to follow its entire lifecycle including any revisions, modifications and fault history.

On this large specific project, the ASKAP Hardware Tracker was a vital cog in the machine. And yet, Shields saw potential for this technology in other areas.

After all, some 20 years earlier, a team at the very same CSIRO had been researching black holes when they famously happened to discover wireless internet (WiFi) along the way. With the ASKAP telescope up and running, could there also be another by-product useful for everyday life?

Second Wind

The answer to this question came swiftly – and almost fatally. In 2016, Matt Shields was out running when he had a severe heart attack. He later discovered that he had survived only due to the fast work of medical technicians and the availability of the right blockage-clearing “stent” at the right time.

The word “luck” was thrown around. He had been “lucky” that the right part was on hand. Matt wanted to change that – for lives not to be lost because of supply issues.

He surmised that a stent wasn’t all that different to a vital component of a telescope. Both kept a machine alive – and to do so without fail, both required a robust supply chain. And so, Matt set his sights on using his engineering skills to adapt the single project hardware tracker to a multi-site model that could benefit the entire healthcare industry and save lives.

MyLM (“My Lifecycle Management”) was born – developed at CSIRO using learnings from the original ASKAP system. By adapting it from a singular system into a truly scalable cloud-based tracking technology, MyLM was able to provide tracking for a range of medical devices. This helped to solve many supply chain issues across the health sector, while significantly reducing paperwork and errors. Around the globe, the system has already saved lives and streamlined one of the most vital industries of all.

Infinity & Beyond

This story started big and then went small – personal even. And now, with the creation of our new commercial venture Pentalym, we are ready to go even bigger than ever before. In all directions. All applications.

With Pentalym, we have taken everything we have learnt to date and enhanced it for real-time trackability across any industry, large or small. It is the ultimate supply chain technology – improving tracking efficiency and reducing costs through tailored cloud-based platforms.

To test the extremes of our system’s scalability, Pentalym is excited to be returning to its star-gazing roots, providing state-of-the art device tracking services for the current global SKA telescope project – a collaboration of more than a dozen governments, with major build sites in South Africa and Australia and components being created around the world. The SKA project has been described as “building a jigsaw puzzle, where the pieces keep changing”. At Pentalym, we have the system to keep track of every one of those pieces, for complete peace of mind.

In many ways, this story has come full circle – as we once more help reach further into outer space. But just as big on the horizon is the ability to help reach further across the globe. With unlimited potential to revolutionise a range of industries, Matt and his Pentalym team believe that the most exciting chapter is yet to be written.

Will YOU be a part of writing it?