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Meet the Service Manager II

On July 4th, TMC hosted the second edition of its ‘Meet the Service Manager’ summit: a platform for managers of teams that work in faraway places, in far-from-ideal circumstances. The Sulzer Turbo Center in Venlo was the impressive venue for the meeting. Host Chris de Wilde explained, “For over 40 years, the Sulzer’s Venlo branch has been active in the field of the revision of oil and gas-fueled turbines. These are giant machines (up to 80 tons) with a capacity of 100 MW and more. The rotors go round 24/7 at a high speed and with temperatures over 1,000 degrees Celsius. It is small miracle that only after tens of thousands of hours of continuous operation rotation, a thorough inspection is needed. A complete overhaul takes 28 working days of work.” He continues, “A large group of specialist technicians and numerous sub-contractors work in shifts to keep the costs of a stagnant turbine to a minimum. The revision of damaged or worn rotors and other parts is done in Venlo. With welding robots, 3D scanners, and advanced coating techniques – and with tons of ingenuity and craftsmanship – the often very large, broken parts are mended. At Sulzer, they own a database with 450 different gas turbines, but still reverse engineering is daily business."

Service, sales and after sales

“Over the years,” Ruud Reijnders, service manager at Weir Minerals, says, “service and after-sales have become more important for financial reasons.” In most cases, the yield from the service department is the extra sales generated by the reliability, the quality of the service, or the additional sales by an attentive service engineer.” Pascal Stultiens agrees, “At Honeywell, we run an incentive program to initiate sales by service engineers. The paid bonuses indicate the success of this type of sales.”

As other participants indicate, this is not valid for every type of company. ASML's Giuseppina Toto states, “The sale of our equipment involves such large investments that service engineers have no influence in the decision-making process.” Ike Monday concurs, “Sulzer stimulates the commercial and financial training of its field service personnel. Of course, their technical expertise comes first, but who is better equipped to communicate with a customer than a site manager?”

Sulzer's contracts and service level agreements are complex and may vary widely. Ike Monday continues, “When opening a turbine, there maybe is unexpected damage (like bursts in rotors). That means the service engineer has to negotiate on the spot on terms and prices.” Therefore, the Venlo-based company sets long-term policies on personal and professional development with incentives and offers.

TMC's Sander Lieftink concludes, “On the international market, knowledge of the cost of maintenance, of the risks at the site, and of the local expectations regarding service are therefore of the utmost importance for sales.” Ike Monday adds, “This makes (former) field engineers such outstanding sales managers. They simply know all and everything.”

To be continued

Just like the first meeting, the conversation from this second event went on well into the parking lot. All the more reason to look forward to the next edition of ‘Meet the Service Manager'.

(Special Thanks to Mels Deels - freelance journalist working for Service Magazine - for his notes)

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