In the earliest days of Sealevel Systems, founders Tom and Susan O’Hanlan worked alone. To make the company seem larger, they sometimes affected different voices to answer the phones.
About 90 authentic voices are available to them now, the latest growth spurt of 22 workers coming on the strength of a GE Vernova contract that will put Sealevel products in 57,000 GE gas and wind turbines already spread around the world, as well as those to come.
Sealevel Systems and GE Vernova representatives gathered at the Sealevel Systems offices and production facility in Liberty recently to celebrate delivery of the first locally made controllers that will be retrofitted into existing turbines and built into new ones. Sealevel is a computer hardware manufacturer that creates components to function in harsh environments. And that’s where GE puts its turbines.
“They generate a third of the world’s energy, which is pretty incredible when you think about it,” Susan O’Hanlan, president of the company, said at the ceremony. “That’s huge. And we’re excited to be a part of this program.
“We crossed all the hurdles,” she said. “We have completed the design and are now in full production.”
It took about two years from contract to delivery of the first unit in August, she said, with engineers from Sealevel Systems and GE Vernova working together to perfect the product, called a UCSE.
“We have an established history of providing critical communications solutions around the world,” O’Hanlan said. “We are thrilled to have this story carried through to GE products today.”
She said over the company’s 37-year history, Sealevel has designed more than 350 standard products and more than 100,000 custom computers for industry leaders across the energy, public safety, health, industrial automation, transportation sectors, as well as every U.S. military contractor and contractors for the militaries of allied nations.
“USCE is the next generation controller for GE’s gas and wind turbines,” said Earle Foster, senior vice president of sales for the Liberty company. “It brings a new level of computing performance and enables powerful new software algorithms to increase the performance and efficiency of the new machines. Engineers of both companies worked together to provide in i7 processor with a powerful FPGA in a small package that can work without fail in the toughest environments. That’s no small feat.”
The celebration — complete with cake and champagne — took place on the company’s production floor with company leaders and production crew pausing to toast the product and their customer, represented by Todd Ashley, senior executive, Product Management for GE Renewables; Chris Long, executive product leader, GE Gas Power; Julia Martinez, Wind Turbine Advance Technologies senior engineer for GE Renewables; Zach Blaettler Sr., engineering manager for GE Renewable Energy; and Tyler Callicutt, lead buyer, GE Drives and Controls.
The origins of Sealevel Systems Inc. are in a communications adapter Tom O’Hanlan, now CEO, made for an IBM PC “back before any of that stuff had really started,” Susan O’Hanlan said. The company started two years later and developed a specialty early in input/output solutions for tough environments.
Today the company offers a wide variety of products and services, all of which are designed and tested to endure extreme temperatures — both cold and hot — as well as weather extremes, shock and vibration. Sealevel products ranging from touch panel controllers to ethernet data acquisition devices can be found in varied places from rocket launch pads to the fountain at the famed fountain of the Bellagio Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to the Patriot Missile used by the U.S. Army and several allied countries.
It’s a company incubated by a man — described by his wife as an engineer’s engineer — who started it all by trying to build a single durable item and ended up launching a company. During the celebration of the GE Vernova product, Tom O’Hanlan did not address the gathering; he was at work in his shop.