Sep 23, 2016

36 years and counting - no 2 days are ever alike at the global service center

Olli Sjö
Olli Sjö
Service Technician, Global Service Center

I was asked to offer our readers a glimpse into the typical working day at Neles’ Global Service Center in Helsinki, Finland. To be absolutely honest with you, there is no such thing. Each day brings along new interesting challenges from all over the world, and our dedicated service team welcomes those challenges with open arms.

Neles service center

I suppose 36 years on the job brings about a certain kind of confidence. It is hard to imagine anything rolling through our doors that would intimidate this team. Personally I love a good challenge. I especially enjoy working on the larger heavy duty valves. They are something I have specialized in over the years. Like any great service organization, we simply refuse to recognize the word `problem´. We treat each new case as a challenge, and it is our job to find the best solution.

Service is a team effort

Valves and valve controllers get sent here for repairs from all over the world. All the ones on one side of the hall are from Finland, but another one has just been shipped in from Taiwan. Devices being brought in are treated in order of urgency. Some devices are brought in for scheduled maintenance, while in other critical cases a valve may be in and out of the shop within a matter of days or even hours.

Though Finland might be considered somewhat remote, it makes perfect sense that one of two Global Service Centers is located right here on the outskirts of the Finnish capital of Helsinki. The workshop is located adjacent to the factory where Neles’ products are being developed, designed and manufactured. Not only are parts readily available for the service team, but close cooperation and continuous open dialogue between R&D, production, sales and services means that our customers’ needs are heard, understood and taken into consideration across all functions and departments.

Just as we are in close and direct contact with our customers, we also actively talk to other departments here on site. In many instances it is through services that the customer’s feedback and wishes are communicated to Neles. Making sure that this feedback finds its way to the right people in R&D and production is just one way we bring added value to the table. It is also increasingly important these days that we not only understand our valves and how they work, but also the requirements of the customers’ processes. Something that is critical for a pulp manufacturer may be completely irrelevant for a customer in the petrochemical industry. We need to understand those differences. And the service team here in Helsinki certainly does.

Delivering service to where it’s needed

The importance of mutual trust and respect between Neles and the customers can never be emphasized too much. We do this for our customers. We have to prove to be worth their trust every time. Our service team’s dedication is regularly put to the test. We must be ready to head out to the customer’s site at a moment’s notice, if a situation arises. It is not unheard of at all, that a call is placed in the early morning hours on a public holiday, and we are on our way to the other side of the world within an hour.

I can still recall years when I clocked up more than 80 days away from home, working at customer sites across the globe. These days I’m more happy to spend time at my work bench here in Helsinki, Finland, but I wouldn’t trade away a single day spent working abroad. This job has taken me to almost 20 different countries over the years. I’ve travelled as far east as Japan and as far south as South Africa, all while lending my knowhow and experience to Neles’ valued customers.

Aiming at a moving target

Things have changed a lot over the years. The pace of progress is much faster these days. Everyone wants more and faster, not just our customers, but in general. Our customers’ business landscapes and process needs keep on changing rapidly, and we must be able to keep up… Or rather stay ahead. This might be even more the case in our smart devices than the valves themselves. The cycle between updates is considerably shorter and new updates are coming out constantly.

But however fast the world is moving, some fundamentals never change. Service is a people business, and people matter. Here at the Global Service Center we are much like family doctors; We know the customer, understand the circumstances, are aware of the full history and share the responsibility. Regardless of any type of time pressure, work has to always be done right. We have a responsibility for both smooth process performance and the safety of the people on site.

In this fast-paced world the importance of clear and accurate documentation has also become vital. Requirements for traceability and transparency in documentation and data are stricter than ever. More than half of the work that takes place in the service center is done in front of a screen these days. Our team of technicians would obviously much rather concentrate on the concrete work, but we understand the importance of accurate reporting. Reporting is not there just to ensure that we stay honest, but that list of service procedures and changed parts will help us the next time the same device comes through our door.

Safety is paramount

When you work in service, you have to be a people person. You have to care. We have to take responsibility and ownership of what we do. Regardless of schedule restrictions safety and reliability must never be compromised. Safety matters are kept actively in mind at all times and knowhow and skills are maintained regularly.

The team at the service center is tight-knit and committed to providing excellent service. Together we have more than one hundred years of experience between us. Throughout the team’s history there has never been a life-threatening incident resulting from our work. We have never been caught up in a situation, where we would not have been able to perform. This is something I am extremely proud of.

Summing up service

Service is a team sport, and we have a great team assembled here in Helsinki, Finland. While we veterans bring our experience and knowhow to the table, the younger technicians make the team the dynamic unit it is today. They are enthusiastic about working on all of the new smart devices whenever possible. Together we can offer a full scope of services, and as a team we are stronger than any one individual alone.

There is one last link in this chain that we can’t forget about. Many life-long relationships have been forged with customers over the years. Whatever we do, we must never forget the customer. They are the ones that we do all this for. That is what great service is all about. #NelesLife

This blog post has been up-dated in July 2020, due to company name change to Neles.