Andy Baker is one of Endress+Hauser’s field service engineers who support customers on site with tasks such as calibration, commissioning and repair. As designated key workers, Andy and the rest of the team have kept production lines operating throughout the pandemic. He explained what a typical day is like – and how his routine has been affected by Covid-19.
I often wake up in a hotel room. Home is Weston-super-Mare, but I cover South Wales, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, so for a lot of contract work I stay close to site. All the service technicians have their own area and contracts, which means we get to know our customers really well and we can be much more responsive than if we were all based in the same location. When I’m away from home, my alarm goes off at 6.30am. After porridge and coffee in the room, and a quick 15-minute exercise routine, I’ll get to site between 8.00 and 8.30. Punctuality and professionalism are important to me, so I make sure I arrive on time with the correct paperwork and tooling.
I mainly undertake pressure, temperature, flow, level and analytical calibrations as well as commissioning and repair jobs. Two or three weeks before a site visit, I’ll go through the equipment list, complete the risk assessments and method statements and discuss my plan of action with the customer. It’s really important to open communication ready for the visit. I have to be flexible and work around the customers’ processes to avoid unnecessary downtime, but there’s always something I can be getting on with. If it’s not convenient for me to work in production that day, for example, I can calibrate the critical spares in stores. I’m familiar with the sites and the equipment, so I don’t need to disturb the customer with lots of questions. I’ve built up good relationships with them and they trust me to get on with the job.
This week I’m attending a large service contract that we have with Saputo Dairy in Davidstow, which consists of monthly visits and support for a large shutdown once a year. My regular tasks involve calibrating devices in production, maintaining instruments at the water processing facility, calibrating critical spare stock, and assisting with any technical projects being undertaken. I also help with installed base audits and asset management. When you have hundreds of instruments – some new, some old, some connected to the computer system and others not – it can be difficult to keep track, so it’s important to carry out regular audits to keep on top of things.
During the annual shutdown, a team of engineers will be on site for seven days and we’ll aim to calibrate 200+ devices.I’m grateful for the support of some very experienced colleagues. The southern team work together regularly, and we always know we can call each other if we have any problems. It’s a really good support network.
Covid has undoubtedly had an impact on my day-to-day work, but I’ve been able to carry on visiting sites throughout the pandemic, as have all Endress+Hauser’s service engineers. Customers’ plants are still operating, so we need to support them. There were some changes at the height of the first wave – we saw less demand for calibration and more reactive work, for example – but we’ve been able to accommodate that. And if customers can’t have us on site for any reason, we can support them remotely. Through an app called SightCall, we can see exactly what the customer sees through their phone and advise them. We can even log in to a plant’s network to troubleshoot problems if the customer gives us permission. We also take it in turns to staff the Instrumentation Support helpline, which is when we work from home answering phone calls and online enquiries from customers to help them with technical issues.
When I’m on site, I make sure I follow the government guidelines as a minimum, but many sites have extra precautions in place. Last year, some sites had fully segregated areas for contractors, including a separate canteen and toilets. We had to wear full face masks with safety glasses underneath, which was quite uncomfortable, but you get used to it. I’m still wearing face coverings on site, whether I’m inside or outside, and I expect that to continue for some time.
After the site visit, I like to go for a run or swim while it’s still light before completing any paperwork. My last job of the day is to send a complete package of reports to the customer, including an updated equipment list, detailed service report and calibration certificates. Then it’s time for dinner. During lockdown I often had to rely on takeaways for an evening meal because a lot of restaurants were closed, but thankfully it’s easier to find a healthy option now! It’s been challenging to keep going through the pandemic, but I’m proud that we’ve been able to maintain our usual level of service. And I’m thankful that we’re starting to see light at the end of the tunnel.
For more information about Endress+Hauser’s service capabilities, visit http://www.uk.endress.com/service or call 0161 286 5050.