Spotlight on Life of a Field Service Engineer, Ophthalmic Equipment

This article focuses a spotlight on the life of a field service engineer for ophthalmic medical equipment. Specifically, maintenance and support of cutting-edge refractive surgical Femtosecond and Excimer LASER equipment, with experience including Surgical Phaco emulsification, Vitreo Retinal equipment, Surgical Image guidance systems, Microscopes, Topolysers, and Aberometers. Parthibarajan Ramachandran works for Alcon as a Senior Service Engineer.

Parthibarajan Ramachandran Field Service Engineer Ophthalmic Equipment Alcon wearing PPE

Rich Fascinating Life Of A Compassionate Medical Laser FSE


Have you always been interested in science and technology as well as the way things work?

Yes, I’ve always been interested in science and technology and understanding how things work. This curiosity led me to pursue a career in engineering, where I get to engage with new technologies and troubleshoot equipment as a field service engineer.

As a child did you have technical hobbies and interests?

Yes, as a child, I had technical hobbies and interests. For example, I enjoyed taking apart electronics to see how they worked, conducting simple experiments, and building small projects with construction kits. These activities sparked my curiosity and laid the foundation for my interest in science and technology.

Who encouraged you towards engineering?

My interest in engineering was largely self-driven, but I had supportive parents and teachers who encouraged my curiosity and provided resources to explore my interests further.

Why did you decide to study biomedical engineering rather than another type of engineering?

I chose biomedical engineering because I wanted to apply my engineering skills to healthcare and make a positive impact on people’s lives.

Has it always been important to you to help people/contribute to society?

Yes, contributing to society and helping people has always been important to me. From a young age, I’ve had a strong desire to make a positive impact on the world around me. So, this drive to help others has influenced many aspects of my life, including my career choices.

Parthibarajan Ramachandran Field Service Engineer Ophthalmic Equipment Alcon

Engineers of the past

Who do you consider is the greatest engineer ever?

It is very subjective and can vary depending on individual perspectives. However, I consider figures such as Leonardo da Vinci and Nikola Tesla among the greatest engineers in history due to their significant contributions and ground breaking innovations in various fields of engineering. Each of these individuals made remarkable advancements that have had a lasting impact on technology and society.

Typical week as a Senior Field Service Engineer for Ophthalmic Equipment

What’s your typical week like?

As a field service engineer, my typical week can be quite dynamic and varied.
In addition to on-site visits, I may also spend time remotely troubleshooting issues, coordinating with other team members or departments, and staying updated on the latest industry trends and technical developments through training sessions or self-study.
Overall, my week as a field service engineer is a balance of hands-on work at customer sites, communication with clients and colleagues, and ongoing learning to stay current in my field.

Can you describe the type of equipment you support?

As a field service engineer specialising in ophthalmic lasers, I primarily support sophisticated laser equipment used in ophthalmology clinics and hospitals. Ophthalmic lasers are precision instruments designed for various procedures related to eye care, including refractive surgery, cataract treatment.

How much of your time is spent ‘hands on’ with customers and how much on administration, training, and other aspects of your role?

I typically spend around 60-70% of my time in hands-on activities with customers, such as maintenance and troubleshooting. The remaining 30-40% is dedicated to administrative tasks, training, and continuing education to ensure efficient operations and customer satisfaction.

What is the geographical area that you cover, and how do you travel?

The geographical area I cover can vary depending on the urgency, call volume and FSE availability. I have my own assets which are distributed in southern part of India, but I travel all over INDIA for supporting other FSE’s. Ninety per cent of the time I travel by air for this. Occasionally I do travel to other countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Which other people in the workplace give you support?

My team of engineers, field service operations specialist and my reporting manager.

Sales and the FSE

Why do you think a Field Service Engineer can be important to sales? How specifically can they contribute?

A Field Service Engineer can be important to sales by providing technical expertise, building customer relationships, identifying sales opportunities, and offering valuable feedback for product improvement. In addition, their role extends beyond technical support to directly impacting customer satisfaction and influencing purchasing decisions.

Training and the FSE

You have been involved in training other engineers and also end users. How do make sure that you are passing knowledge on accurately?

To ensure accurate knowledge transfer during training sessions, I thoroughly prepare, communicate clearly, engage trainees interactively, demonstrate procedures, periodically assess understanding, and encourage feedback for continuous improvement.

How do you keep your training interesting?

To keep training interesting, I incorporate a variety of engaging techniques such as interactive discussions, hands-on activities, multimedia presentations, real-life case studies. I also strive to tailor the content to the specific needs and interests of the audience, encourage active participation, and maintain a lively pace throughout the session. Additionally, I leverage humour, storytelling, and relatable examples to make the material more engaging and memorable for trainees.

What were your top tips for explaining something technical to someone non-technical?

To explain something technical to someone non-technical:

Simplify complex concepts.
Focus on practical benefits.
Use visuals like diagrams.
Encourage questions.
Provide relevant context.
Offer hands-on experience.
Repeat and recap key points.

Work-life balance

The role of a Field Service Engineer can be very stressful. Why are family and friends so important to balance this stress?

Family and friends are important for a Field Service Engineer to balance stress because they provide emotional support, perspective, relaxation, distraction, and a sense of purpose. So, all of this helps to alleviate work-related pressures and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

What advice would you give to the family of an FSE?

These are my pieces of advice for friends and family of FSEs:

Recognise the unpredictable nature of my job.
Express concerns and share schedules.
Your encouragement is crucial.
Make the most of our moments together.
Your well-being matters a lot to them.
Understand the significance of their work.
We’re in this together as a family.

How do you make sure that you always make time for family and friends whatever your workload is?

To ensure I always make time for family and friends despite my workload, I prioritise, and schedule dedicated time for them. In addition, I set clear boundaries between work and personal life, delegate tasks, when possible, and communicate my needs for work-life balance to my manager.

What is your advice to other FSEs for coping with pressure at work?

I have five pieces of advice:

Prioritise tasks and manage time effectively.
Seek support from colleagues or supervisors.
Communicate openly about expectations and concerns.
Prioritise self-care.
Reflect on experiences for learning and growth.

Most challenging part of the job as a Field Service Engineer, Ophthalmic Equipment

What is the most challenging part of your job – technical side, logistics or customers?

The most challenging part of my job currently revolves around logistics, particularly due to the chip shortage. Navigating through supply chain disruptions, delays in receiving essential components, and managing customer expectations amidst these constraints pose significant hurdles.

What do you do when a problem seems to be unsolvable?

Simple. I take a break. A simple break makes a great difference in my mind set.


What are your predictions to the changes in ophthalmic equipment over the next twenty years?

Over the next twenty years, ophthalmic equipment is expected to advance significantly, driven by technology and patient care needs. For example, this includes improved imaging technology for detailed eye examinations, minimally invasive surgical techniques, integration of artificial intelligence for diagnostics and treatment planning, teleophthalmology for remote patient monitoring, and personalised medicine through genetic testing. So, these developments aim to enhance precision, accessibility, and outcomes in ophthalmic care.

Making a future star

Apart from a strong technical background, what are the three most important skills for a field service engineer to have?

Apart from technical expertise, the three most important skills for a Field Service Engineer are problem-solving abilities, strong communication skills, and adaptability.

What sort of personality traits are ideal for a field service engineer to be successful?

Ideal personality traits for a successful Field Service Engineer include problem-solving ability, adaptability, customer focus, resilience, attention to detail, teamwork, self-motivation, time management, strong communication skills, and technical curiosity.

Is there anyone who should not consider working in field engineering?

Individuals who struggle with frequent travel, limited social interaction, problem-solving under pressure, time management, or lack technical aptitude may find field engineering challenging and may want to explore other career options.

Parthibarajan Ramachandran Field Service Engineer Ophthalmic Equipment Alcon

Further reading on Field Service Engineer Ophthalmic Equipment

Life and challenges of an Ophthalmic Field Service Engineer

Worth Sharing!

Related Articles


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *