Mobile Design Lab: Bringing Catania To You

A man sitting at a desk in the mobile design lab

The best work doesn’t always happen sitting behind a desk…meet the Mobile Design Lab.

When we think about our primary goal, it’s to provide our customers the best product development experience. We do that by thinking outside of the box and sometimes outside of the office. This philosophy inspired the creation of our mobile design lab, a fully-functional working lab that allows us to provide better customer service while nourishing our love of travel. 

What exactly is a mobile design lab? We’re glad you asked. 

It’s Not Just An RV

From the outside it looks like a typical RV. The front half is our living space, but it's the back half that provides us the space we need to fully conduct our business. 

Our workspace has everything we need: a desk, 3D printers, a cleaning station, welder, mini mill, a giant toolbox, solder station, and an assembly table. It’s also 100% solar powered with no generator. Using solar energy allows us to be completely independent. We can park in front of any facility without relying on an outside power source. We have developed a deployable 2500 watt solar array that allows us to charge our 15 KiloWatt-Hours of Lithium Iron-Phosphate batteries even in cloudy conditions. And when it is time to move, we can stow the solar array and be on the go  in a matter of minutes. This makes our mobile lab fully off grid and allows us to provide a climate controlled workspace while being ecologically sound and sustainable. 

Recently, we traveled to visit our customer Jaia Robotics to work on a prototype. We went directly to the owner’s facility. Using the equipment in our mobile lab we were able to put together a prototype JaiaBot and deliver it to them in real-time. Being onsite allowed us to facetime directly with the customer which provided us immediate feedback resulting in a faster turnaround time. 

Another added benefit of the mobile lab  is bringing different engineering disciplines together in one place. In this case, we designed the housings, mechanism,s and related hardware while Jaia developed the circuits and software internally. Being in the same place at the same time allowed us to work hand-in-hand to integrate the prototype. 

In situations where we aren’t responsible for the complete design, working in a single location to get the initial builds completed helps speed up the learning curve on these first prototypes.

Having a mobile shop  provides us the tools needed to make design changes in real time while working to integrate our customers or third party components into our design. 

But wait. There’s more. 

We can provide all of Catania’s services straight from this mobile lab - including project management and product integration services. For example, Instead of a customer taking a product piece to a machine shop to be repaired, we can fix it for them in our design lab. This real time help provides solutions that save our customers time and money. 

Travel is something we are truly passionate about, and the mobile design lab  allows us to do that while still letting us work “from the office”. The inspiration we gain from new locations not only fills our creative wells, it makes us more productive for all of our customers, both near and far. No matter where we are, Catania is open for business. 

Being there for our customers when they need us is just part of our service, now thanks to our mobile design lab we can also be there wherever they need us.

Learn more at: https://cataniaenterprises.com/ or call direct (321) 236-0007

MDL Technical Specifications

Length Overall (Solar Array Stowed) 24’8”
Length Overall (Solar Array Deployed) 31’ 4”
Empty Weight 4490 lbs
Payload capacity 3509 lbs
Payload Area 127”x81”
Solar Array 6x 420W 72 cell Monocrystalline panels
Battery Bank 3x 5300 Whr 48VDC LiFePo Batteries
Inverter 3000W Growatt Integrated Inverter / MppT Charge Controller
Equipment Formlabs Form3 SLA Printer
Grizzly 3/4hp 3-Axis Milling machine
Primeweld 225A Tig Welder
Solder Station with ESD Mat
72”x24” Work/Lab Bench
Assembly tools, vice, drill, saws etc.

Freedom and Flexibility Create Optimal Work-Life Balance at Catania

Engineers have made some pretty astonishing accomplishments in the past 100 years. In fact, it’s hard not to look at just about everything around you and not be amazed at how far technology has come in such a short time. So, with all these advancements in technology, how is it that the technology industry hasn’t done a better job of engineering a better work-life balance?

Most of us need to work. That’s a fact. But do we need to work on such a regimented schedule that our passion for what we do gets lost in the balance between work and life?

Some companies are slowly changing their view of the traditional 9-5, 40-hour work week to improve quality of life – believing a better quality of life will bring a better product. Catania is one of those companies. Passion is the basis to our success and the driving force behind our decisions; as a matter of fact, it’s the first thing we look for in new team members. Our team’s passion extends to the products we design, but that passion only thrives when it has been given the freedom and flexibility to flourish.

The irony in all this is that time and time again we’ve seen that the overall investment in time ends up being the same. When our employees are given the freedom and flexibility to manage their projects, they consistently return with innovative ideas and methods to tackle those projects. When the project is something they are passionate about, time no longer is relevant. They want to accomplish the vision for the product. In the end, it is a win for both our customers and our team.

Christine Bralich is a Catania Mechanical Engineer whose passion is evident both at work and in her free time.  When not designing for Catania, Christine is passionate about advancing her knowledge in design and 3D printing. She attends Groundswell Startup’s 3D printing meet-ups and competes in their challenges for fun. Groundswell Startups is a Melbourne, Florida-based start-up incubator that helps start-ups succeed. She’s won many of these challenges as well as being a speaker for the event.

Christine working on designs with the team

Ray Catania, CTO, and Stefanie Catania, CEO, are leading the team to have an optimal work-life balance.  They both love to sail, travel and experience the world, and they integrate that passion into their work.

An image of a sailboat sailing and text that says 'Ohana'
Ray & Stefanie Catania aboard their sailing home (picture courtesy of SVDelos)

“We like to bring what we are experiencing in the world to our customers,” Stefanie said. “When we travel, we go to museums, art galleries, or walk around the city to see different types of architecture. Our experiences often prompt creative ideas to complex problems we’ve faced, or it may inspire us to modify a design or process, or even create something new.”

Stefanie adds, “The Catania team mentality is to have freedom outside of work to truly rejuvenate and bring an individual’s passion into their projects at work. We created this company so we could provide a transformative work environment for people. We want the people who work with us to have a life because there is more to life than work. For me, the love of running a company is enhanced by being able to travel with my family and homeschool my kids. Our focus is not to be the next 40-hour work week engineering company, but to create an environment that works for everyone.”

Freedom Plus Creativity Equals Company Culture at Catania Enterprises

freedom plus creativity equals company culture at catania

Catania Enterprises’ company culture is based upon the premise that freedom begets creativity.

Ray Catania, CTO, Catania Enterprises, is a mechanical engineer who has always been passionate about creating innovative solutions. He and his wife, Stefanie Catania, CEO, started their business to help other small business owners and inventors turn their ideas into functional products with an artistic flair.

Before leaving his corporate engineering job in 2018, Ray recognized that the traditional 9 to 5, 40-hour workweek (which has morphed today into an 8 to 6, 50-hour workweek for many technical companies) breeds stress in employees, from the “TGIF syndrome on Fridays” to “I hate Mondays” attitude. After his first son was born, Ray was permitted, by the company he was working for at the time, to reduce his schedule to a 36-hour, four-day workweek, giving him more time to spend with family. A nice by-product of that decision was that he was much more efficient in his work, and a lot happier, too.

The Catanias realize how a happy work-life balance sparks creativity instead of putting out the fire. Having learned firsthand how much more efficient and happy employees can be when given a flexible schedule, the couple encourages employees to design their weekly schedules in order to be more successful in both their work and their personal lives. Because employees are more productive with this type of work arrangement, customer satisfaction is often exceeded.

Therefore, balancing employee flexibility with meeting customer’s needs is key.

“We will never put our employees in a situation where they are being worked to death or aren’t being treated fairly by us or one of our customers,” said Stefanie. “On the other hand, we will never let a customer down and we always ensure their needs are put first whenever possible.

“Most importantly, we want our employees to feel the freedom of the job. If they want to work from a mountain top somewhere in Colorado for two months to go skiing, they can. We will work it out.”

Sometimes face-to-face meetings are necessary, or assemblies need to be made in one location. Many times, however, meetings can be held via Zoom.

The couple has always enjoyed traveling and realizes that changing the scenery once in a while can trigger creativity. Not sitting at a desk every day at the office.

“A lot of the ideas that we have, we get during travel. We will see something in a museum or see a part on an airplane that can give us an idea on how to solve a problem for a client. Or we will be travelling through an area of the country and see a shape of a building which could be the inspiration for the next design of a product we will be working on,” said Ray.

Before Catania Enterprises, both Ray and Stefanie were employed full-time. During their time off, they sailed down the Atlantic coast in increments from Boston to Florida in between their work schedules. Now that they own and run their own company, they enjoy living in their sailboat and traveling the East Coast. When they need to visit or work directly with customers, they live in an off-grid RV that serves as both their living quarters as well as their mobile design lab, which is set up for welding, soldering, 3-D printing, basic milling operations and prototyping assembly. This has allowed them to not only visit with customers face-to-face, but to also provide them with quick-turn and real-time design and prototyping services, without sacrificing their own dream of traveling.