Andre Reidelbach is a gas detection technology specialist at Bilfinger Maintenance. He and his team manage projects and customer plants throughout Germany from their site in the Frankfurt-Höchst Industrial Park. In an insightful conversation, he talks about his daily tasks, innovations in gas detection technology and some of the exciting projects that he and his team have already successfully completed. Gas detection devices are used to warn of leaking gases - in the production of chemicals, for example.
Mr. Reidelbach, you are a maintenance manager in the field of gas detection technology. Can you tell us how you got this job?
When I started out, I completed an apprenticeship as a process control specialist - a job that is now known as an energy electronics technician for automation technology. After that, I went to evening school for several years, first completing my technician training, then getting a degree in electrical engineering. It wasn't the easiest way forward, but I worked my way up and in 2011 I assumed responsibility for the Gas Detection Technology unit at Bilfinger Maintenance.
Working as a specialist for gas detectors sounds exciting. What does a typical day at work look like for you?
My work is extremely varied. There isn't really anything you could call routine. I work on a very broad range of tasks. I look after customer communication, for example, identify market trends, deal with technical tasks and supervise the department's commercial processes. There is always something different on my plate.
That sounds like a multi-faceted profession. What do you enjoy most about your work?
What I enjoy most is working with my team to come up with customized solutions. Solving complex tasks and working on innovative projects. That is truly exciting!
Off the top of your head, can you think of a project that stands out?
Yes, about eight years ago we won a very large customer - one with extensive expertise and who placed exacting demands on all suppliers and service providers. We managed this project together as a team, and each and every one of us made a contribution. Today, six colleagues are working permanently at the customer's location, something that I am very proud of because we started with only one colleague.
Speaking of teamwork, how important is this for you and your department?
It is extremely important! It is what enables us to work together on innovative projects, and ensures that everyone gets involved. Networking is very intensive not only in our team, but also among all Bilfinger units. Just recently I visited the site of another Bilfinger unit and was warmly welcomed there. This is absolutely vital, not only for internal networking, but also when it comes to being present as a service provider for our customers at as many locations as possible.
As a gas detection technology specialist, you certainly have a great deal of responsibility, so working together in a structured manner is crucial.
Definitely! You put your life and your health in the hands of a gas detector, so responsible and reliable work is our number one priority. It is also important to be familiar with the latest technology at all times, so that the users of the devices can fully rely on the equipment.
Technology is constantly developing, especially through innovation. But digitalization also plays a decisive role. Would you say that this is true for your line of work?
Yes, definitely. Digitalization in particular has brought about a whole series of changes in processes and requirements. To mention just one example, it has always been part of our job to document all the steps. With the number of systems and projects we handle, that's a lot of documents on paper. We still write down our procedures, but now we do it in a digital format. This means that documentation is not only simpler, but also more reliable and consistent. In other words, our colleagues has a special explosion-proof tablet or smartphone available directly at their workplace, at the plant, and can document digitally on site, for example, about tests performed on a gas detector.
You also use Industrial Tube, a digital video platform developed by Bilfinger Digital Next. In what specific areas is it used in your department?
Yes, that's right. We have already tested the tool and are currently developing additional videos. We would like to use Industrial Tube for internal purposes: In training videos for our employees that allow us to pass on knowledge quickly and easily. But we also want to use Industrial Tube externally because we are seeing demand from customers. We support our customers in the selection of gas detectors independently from manufacturers and we look after the installation, testing and maintenance. Ultimately, however, it is up to the customer to decide which maintenance steps he wants to take care of himself; we are very flexible in this respect. If our customer wants to carry out individual steps himself, we provide him with the necessary expertise. This could include, for example, small explanatory videos that the customer can play over and over again if he is uncertain about the individual work steps. Bilfinger is, after all, a partner and service provider, so it is our job to provide comprehensive information. Industrial Tube will prove to be a helpful tool in this respect.