Delivering Timken’s Value Proposition
When a prominent industrial manufacturing company in South Africa experienced issues with an overheating input pinion shaft that stalled production for two weeks, Timken service engineers were called. After a few site visits to analyze shaft bearing damage, they had the company back in business — and an operations supervisor who remarked, “I honestly don’t think we can assign a value to your service!”
But there was a calculable value: $1.8 million.
This is what Timken service engineers do for customers. Regularly. Whether it’s on a ferry off the coast of France, at a nuclear power plant in the northeastern U.S, or inside an 80-meter-tall wind turbine in China.
“No matter the industry, application, or scenario, they provide extremely valuable insight, they’re equipped with unparalleled expertise, and they are 100 percent focused on supporting customers,” says Dragos Oprescu, Timken’s European-based global manager of service engineering and 25-year company veteran. “While our product and application engineers always design for the real world, service engineers are there to solve problems when that world suddenly changes.”
At Your Service
Timken is internationally renowned for its specialized engineering expertise and innovative problem solving. An elite segment of its considerable talent pool, the service engineering team, comprising roughly 100 individuals across the world, serves as Timken’s on-site customer support arm. They demonstrate and install products and parts, provide training and consultation, and employ their expansive knowledge and mechanical skills to troubleshoot and resolve urgent issues for customers.
“We’re the boots on the ground, the first responders, if you will, whenever there’s a situation,” says Barclay Simmons, another longtime Timken employee and U.S.-based chief engineer with the team. “And then we have the resources of a robust organization that we can pull in behind us.”
Technical problem solving is, by far, the most common reason service engineers are deployed.
“Typically, this involves some damage analysis, some ‘crime scene investigation,’ and doing some forensics, which may entail coordinating with our other engineering resources,” says Simmons. “Often, it involves directly solving a problem, fixing parts or the engineering behind the parts, or recommending different products for an application.”
Other times, service engineers are called for advice on enhancing operations, even when there are no specific problems. “They may want to increase speed, or load capacity, so they engage us for making an investigational evaluation,” says Oprescu.
Additionally, service engineers provide training and consultation on operation, maintenance, and best practices that altogether improve customer productivity.
Given these tasks, however, there’s no such thing as a typical day.
“This is definitely not an office job,” says Simmons. “One day, you’re off to a paper mill. The next, your headed to a steel mill, or a solar power facility, or an auto assembly plant. The customers, their applications, and the required skillsets are always different and infinitely variable.”
Less variable is the response from customers. “Service engineers are always well-perceived,” says Oprescu. “The feedback we get consistently reflects that we are capable, responsive, resourceful — and that we get results.”
As growing scores of examples illustrate, their results, which may seem difficult to quantify, do add up. For just about every job, Timken service engineers adhere to a formal documentation protocol that enables them to objectively measure the value of their efforts in terms of reduced equipment downtime and maintenance cost, increased productivity, cost avoidance, and other metrics. Cumulatively, the value is calculable — and it is consequential.
As the expression goes, “success breeds success.” Timken has been consistently expanding its portfolio with a number of strategic acquisitions over the last 12 years. For Oprescu, such growth necessitates the need to expand his team, no small feat given the highly specialized job requirements. But, as he sees it, challenge is par for the course — and part of the calling.
“If a problem needs to be solved, this keeps me engaged,” he says. “And I think this is true for any Timken service engineer.”
Learn more about how Timken’s service engineers helped vaccine producers optimize temperatures from the very beginning where the cold chain begins — in manufacturing.