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Challenging our tech engineers

And identifying those ready for the next step in their career!

As a reactive plumbing and heating firm we employ a number of engineers with different skill-sets for different kinds of jobs and fix. Obviously we have plumbers and heating engineers; their responsibilities are pretty self-explanatory; but we also have subtly different types of engineers even within those roles.

We know our staff and we understand their strengths and experience and we use this knowledge to match engineers to jobs; sending those with the most appropriate skills for that particular job, where possible. Within the heating engineer team we have a number of people that are ‘tech engineers’. These are engineers that are particularly good at troubleshooting and fixing very technical issues. Many boiler breakdowns are down to common problems but sometimes the fault can be pretty complex and those require the attention of our tech engineers.

Now, we understand that ‘complex problem’ is not a term our customers generally like to have associated with their boilers but for a tech engineer there’s nothing they love more than applying their technical minds to a tricky fault that may well have lesser engineers tearing their hair out. They are the trouble-shooters, the big guns that we send in to save the day if an issue sounds like its going to require our finest minds.

What does it take to be a tech engineer?

Well, technical knowledge, experience in the field, an analytical mind and even a bit of lateral thinking are all essential skills but these skills need to be honed. We really believe in giving all our engineers the opportunities to grow as technicians and develop their long term career with us so recruiting from within for these highly regarded roles is always our preferred strategy.

Our engineers are continuously assessed. It helps us ensure we offer a consistently high service, it makes sure we remain compliant with industry regulations and it also allows us to identify the right people to move up into tech roles.

When we think we have people who have the potential to work at this level we give them the chance to prove themselves, not by letting them loose on the most difficult boiler breakdowns that come in, but by setting them challenges in test environments.

We have a number of technical boards that we use to simulate faults. Part of our development process is to assess engineers’ skills using these boards to see how they identify and solve the problems. Operations manager Tom Scott explains how the boards work:

“We’ve got Y-plan, S-plan and a components board with faulty common components like gas valves. We’ve also got an Isar and a 105 exploded on boards to help demonstrate the sequence of ignition. It’s good fun to throw in a faulty component and watch the process of finding and proving the fault. The guys love it!”

Once engineers have demonstrated their competence in these challenges, we then put in place a development plan to continue to improve their skills including mentoring from experienced tech engineers and further training where thought to be beneficial.

Continuous recruitment of tech engineers from within the company enables us to provide an expert service to our private customers and those we work for via insurers. It also keeps the team motivated to see potential career progression and have their skills and hard work rewarded.

Anyone fancy a game of ‘find the broken neutral’?!

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