A recent blog looked at working on wind turbines: How to become a Wind Turbine Technician. We came down to earth for this post, in order to dig into the detail of life as a Mining Equipment Field Service Engineer.
There are mining engineers all over the world doing a variety of things. However, what is it really like to have a career in this field?
Ron Evans works as a Field Service Engineer for Metso.
Ron Evans a Mining Equipment Field Service Engineer for Metso Outotec in the USA
Metso Outotec is a frontrunner in sustainable technologies, end-to-end solutions and services for the aggregates, minerals processing and metals refining industries globally.
In this article, Ron shares his experience.
Could you give a brief description of your background and what led you to work in mining and as an engineer?
Ron began his career as an Operating Engineer on Heavy Equipment. Then after this he worked as a Mechanic/Welder and as a Maintenance Supervisor in Aggregate/Mining. All this experience gave him the basis to become a Field Service Engineer. Ron feels that it was a natural progression from one job to another.
So, that means he’s now been working in the field for 26 years.
Typical Day as a Mining Equipment Field Service Engineer
What’s your typical day like?
I start with a “toolbox” Job Safety Analysis (JSA) meeting. This involves organising job scope responsibilities and directing the workforce to accomplish the planned desired results. So that means, part of my role is to field technical questions and develop a solution to resolve any on site situations that may arise.
How much of your time is spent ‘in the field’ – working on site?
When I’ve been assigned a specific job, I spend 100% of my time on site.
How much of your day is spent on checking data and admin?
If related to the performance of the equipment I am working on checking data and admin, maybe 10-15% of the time.
How much travel do you do?
As a Field Engineer, Ron has travelled a lot. Therefore, he is very familiar with airports and now belongs to the following:
Delta Diamond Member
Million Miler club
Avis Platinum Member
In fact, he’s spent so many nights in hotels that he has multiple hotel memberships at maximum levels.
The challenges of working as a Mining Equipment Field Service Engineer
What is the most challenging part of the job?
There are two main challenges.
Firstly, maintaining peak performance of the subject equipment.
Secondly, communicating the technical importance of systems to maintenance and managerial personnel.
What do you find most challenging about the work?
All the travel means that balancing work and personal life is a constant challenge. In fact a lot of field engineers will relate to this.
What has been your most difficult job so far?
I arrived at a job and found that I was without proper documentation.
Have you ever arrived on site and found that it’s been much easier than you expected? For example, that you just needed to make a small adjustment?
The equipment that I specialise in is very complicated. Therefore, sometimes I have encountered situations where there is just a small adjustment or change needed.
Making a winner
What sort of person makes an excellent Field Engineer in the Mining Industry?
There are three things:
must be willing to put in the work after hours,
have a pleasant personality,
and as well always follow up with customers after the job is complete.
How important is ongoing training?
How key is it to have a mentor and a good team around you?
This is also, extremely important. This is because there is a generational gap between knowledgeable experienced field engineers and up and coming field engineers.
New field engineers in mining equipment
What advice would you give to someone who has just started their first job?
There are three key pieces of advice:
Do your homework and research the equipment you are servicing and supporting,
How important is your overall fitness?
Fitness is very important throughout your whole career.
Apart from a strong technical background, what are the three most important skills to have?
Communication skills are paramount (including listening and speaking).
In addition, computer skills to produce a clear and concise field service report
Lastly, reliability, dependability, and able to work with colleagues
Equipment images courtesy of Metso Outotec