This month we profile, Raphael Reveles, Engineering and Technical Director – Americas for Sims Recycling Solutions.
What is your educational background?
I did my undergrad education in Physics at the University of California, Davis and received a Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from California State University, Sacramento. During that time I also worked as a diesel heavy equipment mechanic which gave me a good base of hands on experience. I recently completed a certificate program at Stanford University in Innovation and Entrepreneurship that jumpstarted some new design ideas I will be pursuing.
When did you first start working at Sims Recycling Solutions?
I started working for Sims in 1999. I ran a shredding line in California and eventually became manager of that 200,000 square foot recycling facility. As the need grew I began working full time only on Engineering. When I started in this business there were very few companies shredding electronics on a large scale and little variety available with U.S. made equipment. Most of the early shred line came from Europe. Today there are many processors and equipment choices and it has been incredible to watch our industry change so much in a relatively short amount of time. With the current diversity in equipment and technology, being an engineer in this field is exciting.
What role does the Engineering and Technical team have within Sims?
Engineering is responsible for supporting the technical needs of the business whether with a shredder, separator, time study, new tool, or supporting a customer. Our team is made up of multiple disciplines: we have Mechanical Engineers, CAD drafters, Electrical Engineers and designers, Controls programmers, Electricians, Welders, Fabricators, and Project Engineers that make us who we are. Concepts envisioned by the operations team can be designed, manufactured, and installed completely by Sims Engineering. Besides designing and optimizing shredders and commodity separation systems, our team designs jigs and tools to improve battery removal from certain types of devices such as phones and small devices with embedded batteries. In recent years, we have supplied portable turnkey shredders for prototype and product security shredding to manufacturers which has been a pinnacle of our careers.
How many people work for your team and how are they distributed by region?
We have a team of over 30 in the United States. While most are based in California (Sacramento, Los Angeles), we also have engineers in Chicago and Baltimore which allows us to cover most of the country. At times we have gone to other countries such as Canada, Singapore, and China to support several projects.
What type of certifications or professional development requirements do you require of your team?
Attitude and skillset are top of our list when looking for a teammate. Of course education for certain roles is a benefit. Likewise, for some of the trades such as welders and electricians, State certifications are important. We believe in continuous learning and encourage all staff to take classes and pursue their technical interests. Taking classes has led to new capabilities such as our point cloud new 3D scanning capability where we can scan a plant and import the scan into our 3D CAD software. These point clouds then allow us to precisely know locations of existing equipment and improve our design accuracy when integrating new equipment.
How has Sims’ five year strategic plan to move from being the largest electronics recycling company in the world to a full service global IT asset disposition company affected your team’s work?
Our team has always adapted just as our industry has. In fact, we now assist our metals recycling business design and install sorting machinery on their car shredding lines. Much of the technology is similar to approaches in e-recycling separation, so we have not ventured too far from our core skillset. Our team is very hands on and quite enjoys working on these mega lines. Our future aspirations involve manufacturing our own equipment as we do now, but on a larger scale. It is quite rewarding to watch a sketch turn into a machine in our shop.
Tell us about off-site or custom equipment your team has built for manufacturers or other customers?
We have developed custom destruction solutions for manufacturers who need to destroy prototypes perhaps or other proprietary materials including those that contain data. We carefully listen to what these customers need and apply our experience in selecting several options for them to review and then proceed with the build once confirmed. We often commission these machines and continue supporting them as long as the customer requires. We have had to think in miniature at times since building a portable shredder as we did in one circumstance required compact and light weight solutions. We also had to design an extremely effective ventilation system to make sure no dust escaped during the shredding process. We love a challenge and can shred just about anything.
Speed, power and efficiency are a focus for equipment you build, how about your car?
I am a MOPAR fan and always drive a Dodge with a HEMI of course.
Your wife is an enologist, are you a wine fan? What is a favorite?
I am indeed a wine fan. We do not live far from Napa and visit the area on occasion. I would say my favorite winery is Cairdean Estate in St. Helena. They have a beautiful Cabernet Franc among some of the other varietals one would expect in that region. The winery has a great restaurant as well so we usually end our wine tasting with a tasty meal there.
What book are you reading right now?
Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World by Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt. It is compelling to see how simple rules can guide an organization and keep them on the right path. So far a great read with nice examples.
Where is your go to spot for a vacation?