A detailed look at the role of Field Service Engineers and Technicians in an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or System Integration (SI) company and what they do.
Hello again 👋.
Welcome back to the Roles in OEMs and SIs series where I am giving you an introduction to the different job roles that exist in Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and System Integration (SI) companies.
In the previous parts of the series, I introduced you to the Engineering Staff. In that post, I explained what types of engineers work at an OEM or SI and what those engineers do on a daily basis.
In this part of the series, we will learn what Field Service Engineers and Technicians do in an OEM or SI company.
Before we move on, I would like to take a moment to introduce myself to anyone who might be new to the blog.
My name is Ken Bourke and I have worked as an automation professional for almost a decade. During this time, I have worked on large global projects in different industries around the world.
In the last year, I have started producing content online to share my knowledge through free blog posts and free or very reasonably priced courses.
If you get some value out of this post then consider checking out my courses, joining the mailing list using the form at the bottom of this page, or, if you’re feeling very generous, buying me a coffee using the Buy Me a Coffee widget on this page.
With that bit of shameless self-promotion out of the way, let’s get back to talking about what the Field Service Team does in an OEM or SI company.
The Field Service Team is typically responsible for two key tasks at an OEM or SI company. Those tasks are site-based commissioning and site-based maintenance.
When an OEM has finished building and testing a machine, they load it onto a truck and ship it to the end user’s factory.
In general, a Field Service Engineer or Technician will travel with the machine to get it up and running at the customer's site. After installation, the Field Service Engineer will commission the machine and do some informal testing to make sure that everything is working as expected.
Once the machine is commissioned, the Field Service Engineer represents the OEM during formal testing with the end user. These tests are called SATs or Site Acceptance Tests. During the SAT, the end users tests the machine to make sure that it meets all of the functional and performance requirements that were agreed when they ordered the machine.
Once the machine has been accepted by the customer, a Field Service Engineer will typically do some training with the end users. This includes training the operators on how to use the machine, and the maintenance staff on how to service and troubleshoot the machine.
When they are not busy with commissioning, Field Service Engineers travel to the OEM’s customer sites to perform scheduled on machines as part of a service agreement or to support with emergency breakdowns.
As you can imagine, Field Service Engineers spend a to of time travelling. Many of them are on the road up to 80% of the time.
This schedule sounds intimidating but I loved my time as a Field Service Engineer. In my twenties, I was being paid very good money to travel the world!
As technology improves, there is less of a need for Field Service Engineers to travel to customer sites.
For example, if a Field Service Engineer can use a VPN connection to remotely access an end user’s machine, then there is no need to travel to the customer’s site for routine checks or breakdown support. Instead, he can connect from the office and support the end user remotely.
Remote support technologies are very popular with OEMs and End Users because they reduce the cost of support for the OEM and (hopefully) the price of a support contract for End Users.
Depending on the size of the OEM or SI, the Field Service Engineers may be part of the engineering team or may be part of a dedicated service team.
Larger OEMs tend to separate engineering and service resources because the skills required to work as a Field Service Engineer are different to the skills required to work as an engineer.
In general, Field Service Engineers are more practical with a stronger competence in troubleshooting than their engineering counterparts.
In this post, I introduced you to the Field Service Team in an OEM or SI business as part of my Roles in OEMs and SIs series.
I explained what Field Service Engineers do in an OEM or SI company and how technology is changing the way they work.
As well as the technical roles that we have discussed so far, there are also support staff working at OEM and SI companies.
In my next post, I will introduce you to the Buyer at an OEM or SI company, who is responsible for procuring all of the hardware are outside labour needed to deliver a project.
If you haven’t already, sign up to the mailing list below to be notified when that part is ready.
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