An interview with Joaquin Valle, Service Engineer at Aage Hempel for almost 30 years.
In this interview, Joaquin describes his almost 30 years at Aage Hempel and the evolution of his role over time.
How long have you been an engineer, and did you become interested in this field?
I began studying back in 1980. I completed my first year of an Industrial Engineering Degree at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria but realized that despite my great efforts to understand the role of an Industrial Engineer, I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of a future as a graduate, sitting in an office and signing off projects. I decided to take some time off to decide what road I wanted my future to take professionally.
In the interim, I met the father of my brother’s friend who worked as a Radiotelegraphic officer. One day at home he showed me his Laboratory in the attic of his home, and I discovered the most wonderful things in all the equipment. I suddenly found my focus, changed my story and started again.
I began a degree in Naval Electronic Radio at the Academy of the Civil Navy in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. After my internship, I worked as a Radio Officer on merchant marine ships for about five years. It was here that I acquired the essential experience for what would come next, the famous GMDSS that eliminated the function of Official Radio on ships.
How long have you been with Aage Hempel and how have you seen the company evolve over the years?
With the elimination of the radio function on ships, I had to look for alternatives. In 1991 I dedicated myself to the field of services in the companies that are now part of the Arbulu Group. Next year marks three decades in the company!
In my role as Service Engineer (or what was known as Technician I the early days) I began to cover the fields of communications, inspections and repairs. During this period, my professional maturity and expertise was consolidated, much in the same way as the Companies of the Arbulu Group who consolidated themselves as leaders in this market, and through strategic collaboration, dedicated themselves to achieving their global objectives.
What does your role at Aage Hempel entail?
My role combines the tasks of Field Engineer and Marine Service Engineer. I offer Technical support to other Technicians, be they inhouse or external, office during my duty watch periods. I gather other Service engineers’ technical experiences and feed the information into a data base for future services. I’m also in charge of technical contact with manufacturers to collect the latest technical information to keep our data base up to date, help coordination dpt. to understand complex service requests and support the sales dpt. where necessary.
I recall the times when worked as a Service engineer only – the role was simpler, my functions less. Being a Technical Evaluator for VDR and Non VDR Services forced me to become involved in all kind of services. The feedback I get helps me improve and thus collaborate better in my field of work.
How would you describe an average day in the life of a Field Engineer for Aage Hempel?
Every day is different with a little bit of stress thrown in. Evaluations are needed on an ongoing basis; I need to analyze the problems received through Service Requests and then forward the requests to Logistics and Coordinators who will provide the end customer with a quotation. If information is being sought, Technical Manuals are checked, spare parts and part numbers are selected, instructions are given to the Service engineers to which procedures and technical sheets are attached. It is a great challenge to finish the day with the work list completed.
How much time do you spend on ships? Do you travel a lot for your job?
Yes, I have traveled a lot having worked on ships as a Service engineer for many years. As a Service Engineer; I’m always ready and prepared for the calls of the Service Coordinator to assist in the vessels’ queries. The different companies I have worked for had different methods, but I’ve quickly adapted to their processes. In AHC, all these procedures are fused in a more compact method that enables the company to develop in a more optimal and professional manner.
What do you think is the best part of your job?
The best part of job is when a challenge is resolved, I feel a great satisfaction, i.e bringing faulty equipment back to life despite it having been serviced by Service Engineers from other companies; and being in the position to be able to give Technical support to my colleagues on board the vessels, etc.
What are the types of challenges or risks you are faced with while on the job?
The professional challenges have been the structural changes of the companies where I have worked, and the difficulty in some services that I’ve had to tackle. Everything is a resolved anecdote that when I think back, a smile escapes me, and I feel a great peace.
The risk is big, particularly in terms in terms of safety, so you always need to be prepared; Falls, electric shocks, misplaced spare parts/materials and tools, lost luggage during a trip, shabby hotels – all of these are a big part of the job.
It can happen anytime and anywhere but after almost 30 years in the profession, with a long history of travel, ships and services, I feel I’m well prepared. I look back and believe that I have done well, I have walked the path I wanted to.
What does one need to do in order to succeed in this field?
- Perseverance and Study
- Experience and Passion
Would you recommend this career to prospective students?
Obviously, the ships and their needs will always be there; the GMDSS systems will improve and evolve. New Service Engineers will be equipped with current information required to address the improvements and needs. There is definitely a need for this function – I believe this career is a viable option for personal, professional and development projects.
Do you have any tips or advice for graduates entering the profession?
Stay up to date, study your own work and reach decisive conclusions in each service. It is a hard work; you must have passion and dedication for improvement by relying on your achievements.
What has been the most memorable moment in your career?
The most memorable is today, this interview, the fact that I was given the opportunity to talk about my passion in Marine Radio electronics – it is such a privilege. Knowing that other people and future Service Marine Engineers will read my experiences, it touches me.