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Dan
20-04-2001, 02:06 AM
We provide backup service for a supermarket chain with its own maintenance department. Their techs are not allowed overtime, so our calls are mostly overflow, or after hours calls. My techs dread these service calls for good reason. Here is a typical example:

The low temperature parallel rack is down and everything is thawing on Friday at 5 o'clock. Checking the log, the technician notices that refrigerant has been added regularly to the low temp rack for months. Leak-checking the machine room finds nothing - no lazy-man leaks. After 2 hours of checking the sales floor and underground piping and air handler he finds a loose flare connection on the pressure control of the condenser sufficient enough to explain the amount of refrigerant lost.

Confidently, he charges the rack back up with truck stock and the handy spare bottle in the machine room. "Maybe dinner can be reheated" he thinks to himself as he watches the temperatures pull down. Thoughts of dinner quickly disappear when he re-enters the machine room to discover that most of the EPR's and TEV's have been cranked wide open!

It is enough to make a grown man cry.

Has anybody else had that feeling during a service call?

Prof Sporlan
20-04-2001, 02:20 AM
<i>Thoughts of dinner quickly disappear when he re-enters the machine room to discover that most of the EPR's and TEV's have been cranked wide open!</i>

The Prof wonders if this situation might argue for the greater use of non-adjustable TEVs and EPRs.... :)

Dan
20-04-2001, 03:05 AM
Hahaha! Yes it would! Non-adjustable TEV's save so much more trouble than they cause. Here is a true story.

3 12-ft single deck meat cases. Startup time and the meatcutters are busy. The QC fellow from the store is not happy with the temperatures and enlists the installers on the floor to adjust the valves. Meanwhile, in the machine room the startup tech is tuning the compressor cycling controls and still charging the rack, with the EPR valves wide open. Grand opening ain't so grand for the refrigeration company the following day.

Non-adjustable valves could have saved the refrigeration company $5,000 in labor, the supermarket $2,000 in food loss, 3,000 in lost sales and untold cost in good will. And several people from working 24-hour days running around in circles.

Thumbs up to non-adjustable expansion valves. Any arguments out there?

So, Professor, when do we expect to see the new line of non-adjustable EPR valves?

Prof Sporlan
20-04-2001, 04:11 AM
<i>So, Professor, when do we expect to see the new line of non-adjustable EPR valves?</i>

Any time the rack manufacturers want to ask for them..... :)

Abe
20-04-2001, 11:12 PM
If the multi deck had no gas or was low on gas, why would the TEV's and the EPR's be found to be cranked wide open ?

Brian_UK
20-04-2001, 11:20 PM
Originally posted by Abe

If the multi deck had no gas or was low on gas, why would the TEV's and the EPR's be found to be cranked wide open ?


Probably to try and get the low side pressure up without actually doing a proper job of it.

Brian

Dan
21-04-2001, 02:03 AM
Not a bad question, Abe. Not a bad answer, Brian. Let me put Brian's answer into different words, however, because I doubt that the in-house maintenance guy even bothered with gauges. Let me pretend to be in in-house maintence person for this.

I get called because the ice cream is soft, once again. I have already lowered the suction setpoints for the rack as close to vacuum as I can afford to. I know there is a leak but I cannot find it, so I have been recharging the rack rather regularly, hoping to get back to do a better search. Sometimes I don't have refrigerant to put in. Well, I can get by if I just open up the EPR and run the coil colder. I check the cases and I see the temperature pulling down. Done deal. The boss is on my ass about overtime.

The next day, if that ain't good enough, I'll open the expansion valves. They whistle a little, but temperature pulls down. Done deal. I have a leak, so I don't want to put too much refrigerant in the rack until I find that leak, but I have another call and things appear to be working properly with bubbles in the sight glass and the pressure controls bottomed out and the EPR valves wide open.

Okay, I am done pretending.

This is how I see things getting this way.

Dan

Steve
21-04-2001, 07:27 AM
The time it must of taken to strip the cases to expose the valves, it would of probably have been as quick to have done the job properly....!

This is the thing that constantly amazes me, it only normally takes a small amount of extra time to do the job well, so why bother bodging....?

Dan
21-04-2001, 05:12 PM
I agree. Here is a theory I have regarding in-house maintenance. Management often sets a tone that affects the technicians's sense of priorities. In this chain's case, having an outside contractor as back up probably also affects the technician's point of view.

There is a "knock off at 5, I think I can get by" attitude that pervades the service work.

Furthermore, this chain's management might work the technician through the weekend on an emergency and then knock him off for the rest of the week once he has his forty-hours in to avoid paying overtime. In-house guys are treated as overhead rather than being a profit center. I believe that this environment can tend to warp the sensibilities of an otherwise good technician.

But I agree with Steve wholeheartedly. Spend the damn time to do a thorough job the first time. It is imperitive in our business, even with the sticky problems, when you think your boss is going to flip out.

I don't mind confronting a customer with a $2,500.00 repair bill when I can show that the problem was really resolved during that call. I am defenseless when I present 5 Service work orders on the same piece of equipment during a 2 or 3 month period.

dan wong
29-04-2001, 06:54 PM
I see the problem as poor trainning. not a valve problem. luckydan56

Dan
29-04-2001, 08:01 PM
Originally posted by dan wong
I see the problem as poor trainning. not a valve problem. luckydan56

Interesting thought, other Dan. You are most likely correct. But don't you find that attitude comes into play also? I think attitude... the mindset one has as he or she approaches a problem... is the most important quality for a person who repairs and maintains mechanical equipment. I further think that management not only has power to train individuals, but also to provide them with the proper attitude. What I call the "fix-it-now" mentality; as opposed to the "manyana" mentality.

Dan

subzero*psia
29-04-2001, 09:04 PM
I think you are right about the mentality Dan. Being a mechanic and having someone constantly there to second guess you and then not getting paid like the backup service technician which may actually have LESS experience would probably create a mentality of letting the company spend what they want to be earning and making the backup look bad.

I can see the cat and mouse game.

Sawdust
11-04-2002, 02:38 PM
Now this is where the ammonia guys have the edge, :) has nobody ever thought of an engine room log book as used by the ammonia techs to log what was done each time something is changed?

Just a thought

Dale

dan wong
11-04-2002, 04:25 PM
Sawdust

That is a good idea as long as the customer continue to use you or you company. If one day they call your competitor....then I think those usefull information... "aide the competitor". I am willing to help my competitor out over the phone but not so far that they can easily replace me.

I much rather keep a good maintenance log on our computer where our tech have easy acess, then keep it on site where competition have easy access.

my thought

herefishy
12-04-2002, 03:28 PM
Dan, you're right on!

I discuss in-house maintenance with people inother industries, like the restaurant business. The (owner) indicates that he wants to hire an inside technician to maintain his equipment. I ask him, "Why do you want to go into the repair business?".

I know what the answer is, it's because he doesn't want to pay me $60.00 an hour when he needs me, or my margin on parts. No, instead he wants to buy a truck and a large investment in tools, insurance, payroll, etc...... and thinks it will be cheaper.

But you know, the type of mentalilty of the tech that would really serve him well, would never work out. You see if you actually repair something, it costs money. When the "good" tech tells him that this or that needs to be done, and it costs this much, "the man" ain't gonna' be happy with that, because the reason he hired the guy was so that "he would NOT have to pay (as much).

On the other hand.........

It's the marriage made in Heaven... Bottom Line Bob and Lazy Larry.
You see Bottom Line Bob don't wanna' spend money and Lazy Larry don't wanna' work! If nothing's getting fixed, no money is being spent.


Quite frankly, I reserve after-hours service for my regular (working hours) customers.

dan wong
12-04-2002, 08:14 PM
Actually my concern is more like this:
Majority of my customer are restaurants, convience grocery store, offices, apartment buildings. almost two to three time a week, some individual or company is soliciting for their business. Typically, the new company will say "....what are you paying for service now?...if I can provide the same service for less....( a very low introductory offer that is hard to refuse) would you give us a shot...etc.) A percentage would be willing to try it out. the same way you leave your old restaurant and try out the new restaurant.

I don't begrudge any one or company for trying to get new business or the customers, I do the same thing. I am against distributing more usefull information to the competition.

Dan
13-04-2002, 03:50 AM
I agree Dan, but what is "training?" Knowing which way to turn a stem? Is a person more properly trained who knows what needs to be done but doesn't do it compared to a person who doesn't know what needs to be done but stays with it until he feels that he fixed the problem?

Which is the most important training? Attitude or knowledge?

dan wong
13-04-2002, 04:10 AM
Dan, the answere is all three. you bring out good points. You missed only one. its call "aptitude."I think its like a four leg stool. all of them are equally important.

this happened on several occassion, They were all oriental, smart, honest, reliable, hard worker. don't speak much english - just enuff to get by, super attitude, they had the greatest determination to over come their handicap. The problem; they have little - almost no mechanical aptitude. Question for you is: would you continue to train them, or tell them to find another job.

Gary
13-04-2002, 04:36 AM
I think knowledge is the key. Someone who isn't good at what he does for a living will eventually wish he were somewhere else, but will stay for the money. Not being able to diagnose and repair the problem is demoralizing.

And speed should not be the main priority for a service tech.

Let's say there are three major priorities, speed, cost, and quality.

For the salesman the priorities should be cost, then quality, then speed.

For the installer speed, then quality, then cost.

For the service tech quality, then speed, then cost.

It's tempting to say quality, then quality, then quality. If it works and keeps on working, all else is forgiven.

Dan
13-04-2002, 05:20 AM
I like that, Gary. But speed is regrettably a high priority when you bill service work. The most likely negotiating point with a customer is how long the repair took. Right after obvious callbacks.

But you know what? Shaving hours on a repair for the customer is the most satisfying solution once you feel the repair will stand.

It really is an odd dance between trusted partners/customers/technicians in the service world. Customers often pay bills they shouldn't.... I often discount prices on the final repair when I deserve full payment.

A compressor change is what comes to mind. We do the mechanical fix, but forget or fail to seek the cause and repair it. Ultimately, we find the cause.

That's the bill that seems exorbitant. Not the time spent swapping machinery.... that always gets paid.

Emergencies are always paid without argument. Making the emergencies go away is not so easily paid.

A conundrum, perhaps. We get paid for not fixing, the customer denies charges when we fix things.

It is a fair bargain as long as we all trust each other.

Gary
13-04-2002, 05:51 AM
I like that, Gary. But speed is regrettably a high priority when you bill service work. The most likely negotiating point with a customer is how long the repair took. Right after obvious callbacks.

In almost all cases, the customer has no idea how long the repair should have taken. It has been my experience that customers who negotiate will do so regardless.

I have known contractors who will pad the bill a little, knowing who the negotiators are, then shave it down for them, and everyone is happy.

Not that I would recommend such a practice, mind you. ;)

In any case, this is your cross to bear. The service tech's cross is callbacks, and quality of work should always be his main focus.

Everyone tries to avoid what gets him in trouble.

If you tell the service tech he takes too long, he will cut corners, and the quality of his work will suffer.

If you tell him about his callbacks, he will try to improve the quality of his work.

Which would you have him do?

Dan
13-04-2002, 01:28 PM
Question for you is:
would you continue to train them, or tell them to find another
job.


It has been a disappointment to me more than once, that I had a willing and eager apprentice who somehow managed to live into adulthood without using handtools. Alas, there are those whom you advise to find other work, but you still hope they learned something important in the process.


If you tell the service tech he takes too long, he will cut corners,
and the quality of his work will suffer.

If you tell him about his callbacks, he will try to improve the
quality of his work.

Which would you have him do?

Of course, Gary, when you put it in such straightforward and simple terms, I would advise the technician to improve his quality.

In the real world, however, I am not so sure I am practicing what you preach to the best of my ability. The lines blur in the heat of battle.

It is good to be reminded. (Gee, that is an interesting word: "reminded."):)

Gary
13-04-2002, 02:14 PM
It's the marriage made in Heaven... Bottom Line Bob and Lazy Larry. You see Bottom Line Bob don't wanna' spend money and Lazy Larry don't wanna' work! If nothing's getting fixed, no money is being spent

Exactly so. :)

People avoid what gets them in trouble. Bottom Line Bob will make Larry Lazy by stressing costs instead of quality. This is the downfall of inhouse service.

zolar1
20-04-2002, 05:51 AM
Perhaps putting a tamper evident seal on the valves would allow you to re-charge the company for all expenses incurred?
It seems that someone, other than the company who has the service contract, fools with the settings, the company could be able to either charge the full price of the repairs or void the warranty.

Many times I place a simple home computer printed seal on items I think people might fool with and try to scam me with a warranty repair. I caught a couple of them doing that already. Seems they wanted a new appliance instead of the old one fixed, and at MY expense! HA!

After I charged them for the second repair, they apparently left the items alone, and no more warranty repairs.

Maybe you could use a wire-and-lead seal, like those used on diesel engine governors?

Tracy_wi
02-11-2002, 04:05 PM
I have had the opportunity to participate in "In house maintenance". My sympathies to those of you that have to figure out what "Lazy Larry, Daryl, & Daryl" did while "Bottom line Bob" was out playing golf or chasing someone elses wife.
Here are some guide lines to help you:
1) The repair log, unless "didn't work, I fixed it" helps you, you can skip the log. What they "really" did will seldom be there.
2) Management will most likely have been hired for "people skills".
So talk about hunting, sports that type of thing, will get you much farther than talking about the actual problem. Just slip the cost of the repair between the biggest catch and the one that got away.
3)If there is a button, knob, switch, any device that "might" change "something" it has been messed with several times.
4) They will only tell you a fourth of the information you need, if that.
5)The "tech" they don't want you to talk to is the one you want to talk to.
6) Blame the manufactorer, after all it has to be their fault that equipment fails early, can not possibly have anything to do with "band-aid" repairs.
7)Be scared be very scared

Gary
02-11-2002, 08:05 PM
8) Tools? Why do you need tools? Okay, we'll get you the cheapest junk we can find. Put in a requisition. Shouldn't take more than a month or two.

Good list, Tracy. :)

Tracy_wi
02-11-2002, 10:00 PM
LMAO!!
That is so true!! only a month or two IF the requistion doesn't get lost!

Dan
02-11-2002, 10:14 PM
LOL Traci and Gary! Come on, now, we need to round it up to 10.:)

Tracy_wi
03-11-2002, 05:34 AM
To add to 8) We will get you the finest Popular Mechanic tools money can buy!! Of course the shop will have a torch! Is there any other way to cut any metal?

9) This is the part they sent, it has to be right, there is no way I could have ordered the wrong part. or this part has got to be bad it didn't fix the problem ( and neither did the two before it).
And the last but one of my favorites
10) I fixed it!!! I fixed it!!
That is good, but now it won't start up!!
Yes it will just try it a few times it will go.
But it started up fine before you fixed it.
I know it is just a piece of junk, isn't it?
There you go Dan!!
But there really are some good people in maintenance also.

Dan
03-11-2002, 02:44 PM
LOL Traci!


But there really are some good people in maintenance also.

I agree. They just seem to get lousy management more often than those working for a profit center.

Tracy_wi
03-11-2002, 03:15 PM
I am waiting for Gary's 9 &10.
Then we can re-write them and send it to David Letterman Top Ten

Andy T
16-05-2006, 07:06 AM
I think the problem here is the fact the company would not allow overtime. Probably because the engineers were kicking the ass out of it without any proper checks in place by managers.
An in house engineer properly trained would have to find the leak because he would be held responsible and asked questions if the system was never working properly. And the fault would not go away until he fixed it.

bernard
18-09-2006, 09:54 PM
Hi Dan

We have similar problem over here with a large supermarket chain.They employ there own techs who work from 0600-1430.Their day starts with case cleans on 6 cases.If this one job alone was done correctly it would have saved the company thousands.We,re advised to work with these guys and show them where they,ve went wrong which I have no problem with it if he wants to learn.Unfortunately thats the problem.

I feel sorry for these young keen techs who have to teach a 45 year old I.S.T. who has no interest plus deal with an irrate store manager.

I believe the way ahead is good pro active maintenance find the fault before it finds you,probably at 3am.

Regards Bernard

paul_h
12-07-2007, 03:09 PM
<snip>
I don't mind confronting a customer with a $2,500.00 repair bill when I can show that the problem was really resolved during that call. I am defenseless when I present 5 Service work orders on the same piece of equipment during a 2 or 3 month period.
Too true, when I do a service call I check everything, in A/Cs I clean the filters when I'm doing a compressor change, repair suspect flare joints, check airflow, do a whole pressure and temp check etc. The reason? They're paying for this visit! The call back means no one paying us. I hate callbacks, and I'm just on a wage, so it doesn't affect me personally (edit: I guess I mean doesn't affect me financially).

BIG DADDY COOL
28-02-2008, 12:07 AM
Dan Those With Out Sin Sin Cast The First Stone..

Gary
28-02-2008, 12:42 AM
Which begs the question:

Is Dan Dan without Sin Sin?

The MG Pony
29-02-2008, 04:39 AM
A comment on a post over 6 years ago? Wow, a new record! Any one going for a reply to a 10 year old post?