As of Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Part of Insitu’s research and development work is now taking place in The Dalles.
The Bingen-based tech company, which makes unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for commercial and military use, began leasing a warehouse next to the regional jail early last year.
It has slowly been outfitting the facility, getting it ready to use, said Jenny Taylor, infrastructure director for Insitu.
The warehouse is used for large-piece storage and also houses a commercial team that supports customer contracts. Also, the Boeing-owned company is doing some engineering research and development at the warehouse, Taylor said.
The R&D engineers are working on the launch and retrieval system for the UAVs. A catapult launches the unmanned vehicle and they are retrieved by a 45.8-foot-tall crane with a vertical cable, which snags the hooked wing of the UAV.
The regional jail owns the warehouse and has agreed to lease another five acres of bare land behind the warehouse to Insitu so it can practice with its launch and retrieval system. The land is being levelled right now by Crestline Construction.
“We’re not launching UAVs there, we’re just practicing the mechanical elements of launch and retrieval,” Taylor said.
The practice items launched are dummies, since aviation rules would not allow launching of actual unmanned vehicles, said Jenny Beloy with Insitu media relations.
The activities might not be much to look at, Taylor said, but the launcher catapult does make some noise.
All test flights of the UAVs happen in Arlington and Boardman, where they can fly in military airspace.
Improvements at the warehouse included adding shelving and racking, network improvements, and security. Having the regional jail next door is a boost to security also, Taylor said.
There’s even a job opening at the warehouse right now, for a position called traffic coordinator II. The listing can be found online at insitu.com/careers.
The facility has 12 employees now and hopes to eventually have 20 people there, Taylor said.
The 100,000-square-foot building was previously leased by Dakine, which vacated it in 2016. The warehouse, at 221 Webber St., features a small sign on the fence announcing it as an Insitu location.
“We call it the old Dakine building,” Taylor said. “We really, really like this facility. Ease of access to [Interstate] 84.” She added, “It’s really hard to find a warehouse of that size in the Gorge, so we felt really lucky to grab it when we did.”
The warehouse usage actually marks a return of the tech company to The Dalles. Insitu had a location in The Dalles on Crates Way in the port industrial area for five years, “so it’s nice to be back,” Taylor said. There, employees handled logistics, shipping out and supporting contracts, Taylor said.
The jobs at the warehouse are not all transfers from elsewhere within Insitu. “There actually has been quite a few hirings for warehouse staff,” Taylor said. She encouraged people to keep an eye on Insitu’s hiring page, which lists dozens of openings company-wide.