Field Service Engineer: ‘Life in the Field’

June 10, 2022

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Life is about relationships. Forging trusted ones in the field is key to being a good Field Service Engineer. That, and being able to find your way around the components of complex biotech instruments! My name is Tasha Smith and last year I transitioned to the field service team to become an engineer for Pall’s biotech equipment and instrumentation. I am part of the regional team based in Minnesota, United States.

Resolve. Maintain. Calibrate.

Essentially my role as an on-site engineer is to resolve instrumentation problems, conduct regular maintenance and calibrate equipment through face-to-face visits. Our aim is to help you keep processes running efficiently and ensure your equipment is in optimal condition. I enjoy this. Being able to meet customers on site, after a couple of visits, it’s like visiting old friends! I like the hands-on approach and get a buzz from discussing science and latest technologies. My previous scientific experience prepared me well for this as did the virtual and hands-on training I have received for the individual pieces of kit. I started my career in the field of diagnostic testing, anti-immune disorders, and antibodies, as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist armed with a degree in biology. This gave me the taste for science and a developing interest in the technology behind it; I guess you could say becoming an engineer was a natural progression. I have found that my experience enables me to talk through problems and really understand instrument user requirements and process needs. Above all though, there’s a great satisfaction in being able to fix something complex. I like the challenge!

What? How? When?

Typical on-site visits are for our filter integrity test instruments (Palltronic® Flowstar IV and V), our bioreactors in the iCELLis® range and mixers such as the LevMixer® System.

Field service visits are either based on maintenance and calibration schedules or result from a customer call to our agents on the Product Support Helpline. About half the time I proactively reach out to customers when I see they have a calibration or some routine maintenance coming up. However, if they have a particular problem, they will call the Pall Equipment Support Hotline who are often able to help over the phone using a combination of reference manuals, physical hands-on experience, or they may draft in one of our Product Support Engineers to apply further in-depth knowledge. Sometimes a site visit is the best way forward. This is where we come in. You could say, the Field Service Engineers are the last to the table! Which is partly true, but the reality is that Pall Equipment Support is a three-pronged attack: Technical Agents/Product Support Engineers/Field Service Engineers. We pull in experience from each other across the different teams – that is our strength. So, when we arrive on-site, our hands-on equipment training comes to the fore as is our specialist toolkit, but behind this is the collective bank of knowledge from a diverse team.

What can a customer do to help the process?

I often get asked this. Before a visit, it speeds up the whole process if the equipment has been cleaned and decontaminated. Also, if it is out and ready for servicing/troubleshooting, this is a great help! It is often these simple things that can have a big impact for efficiency. I also think it is beneficial to have a quick call before the site visit so we can talk about what services will be required to complete the work, for instance electricity or pressurized air. An honest and open discussion about needs and challenges with the equipment goes a long way. It enables us to offer the best support possible.

So, what’s next?

Well, if you have a problem dial up our Pall Equipment Support Hotline and we will find the best way to help you. What’s next for me? Something I am right in the middle of that needs completing - a master’s degree in Biotechnology!




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