If you need routine, this is the wrong job for you

Things which sound highly stressful, strenuous, and dangerous to most people are par for the course for Uwe Seltsam. For ten years he worked as a service technician and troubleshooter, taking on the most difficult jobs all around the world. For four years he has been head of the Technical Service department, and is now on the move only 60 days a year instead of 140.

To be a troubleshooter at Reinhausen you need to be able to work effectively as both a team player and a solo practitioner. When you suddenly get word that you‘re needed by a customer from Canada, Southern Europe, or Africa – preferably right away – then you never know exactly what‘s in store. You have to be ready for anything. And as someone who was more drawn to martial arts than to team sports like football or basketball in their youth, I am fully prepared for that. Indeed, I‘ve been practicing jiu-jitsu for over 20 years. That said, this doesn‘t mean that the people at Technical Service operate exclusively alone.

Of course, when you‘re working with a customer, it‘s all on you. You are mostly going to be a one-man show. You have to quickly gain an overview of the situation, draw the right conclusions, make the right decisions, balance the interests of everyone involved, be responsive to questions as the designated expert, and naturally do your job without any errors. But when you‘re back at headquarters in Regensburg, you‘re back to being part of the Reinhausen family, playing a key role in a strong team. Everyone works towards the same goal: Solving our customers‘ problems – in the best possible way and in the shortest possible time. Together with our products, our customers are also buying a service pledge.

CREMONA / ITALY:

The private jet was already on standby. If a steelworks is experiencing downtime, every minute counts.


For this reason we see ourselves as an emergency service of sorts. A burning transformer is normally extinguished by the time we arrive on site. But then we have to get to work.There‘s no way to plan when and where in the world a service job will come up. A case in point was just a few years ago: „Can you head down to Munich airport right away? The private jet of an Italian steelworks in Cremona is waiting for you there.“ Four hours later, I was already in the air. When a steelworks goes down because the transformer isn‘t working, every minute counts. Time is money, as the saying goes. When I arrived, shortly before it would have been time to clock off for the day, it was time for me to get to work. Thanks to our wealth of experience, we were able to draw the right conclusions before departure from the little information at our disposal. As a result, we had the right spare parts with us and the transformer was up and running again.

After my studies, I spent my first ten years at Reinhausen as a troubleshooter and then as a team leader, spending on average 140 days a year at customer sites. Ten years, in which every morning I had no idea which hotel in the world I would be spending the night in. The life of a troubleshooter is something you have to be able to enjoy. If you want or need routine in your life, then it‘s not for you. That‘s the first thing I tell new applicants these days. Those who want to be back with their families at six o‘clock in the evening will not be happy in this job. If you can‘t deal with constant time differences, extreme changes in climate, and high time pressure, while also carrying out challenging physical work in often dirty and unpleasant conditions, then you will suffer in this job.

LUBUMBASHI/CONGO:

After nearly 40 hours traveling we stood ankle-deep in oil

To show you what I mean, I‘ll tell you a story of a time I was whisked away to the Republic of the Congo. For tourists, these journeys have to be planned weeks in advance for the vaccinations alone. We promise our customers that we will endeavor to be anywhere in the world within 24 hours for servicing jobs. But that‘s not always possible. The quickest route on this occasion was by plane over Paris, Johannesburg and Nairobi to Lubumbashi and then by car a few hours together with two service technicians from the Brazilian transformer manufacturer to arrive at the primary substation.

After a travel time of 36 hours, we were then tasked with going into the transformer itself. Standing ankle-deep in oil, we were faced with a problem: On the on-load tap-changer, the screening rings had been torn off and the insulation had become damaged. We made the sleeves by hand, riveted and insulated them, and thus we were able to fix the damage overnight. We had to improvise, but the transformer is still operating with this solution today. After 48 hours on my feet, I arrived at a hotel which didn‘t exactly have the same standards as in Europe.

The willingness to do these kinds of jobs also has its rewards. The industry is very small, so you will run into colleagues from all over the world again and again, thus creating a network and friendships all around the globe. Many customers also really appreciate this level of commitment. Even today, the personal thank-you letter from the owner of the Italian steelworks is right at the top of my drawer.

Looking for more to read?

One-time registration gives you an access code for this and all future issues of ONLOAD.