Q&A with Spiroflow’s Test Bay Guru – Terry Mason
Terry Mason has been Spiroflow’s Test Bay Manager for 12 years. He was previously an engineering and production shift manager at Castle Cement for 30 years.
As Terry will confirm, the importance of testing cannot be underestimated. Using our analysis lab we will test your product to see the angle of repose, flowability and bulk density (to name a few), which will help us choose the best application for your product. The test bay is also used for research and development projects, to test developments and trial new features.
Taking some time out from his busy role, we invited Terry to answer a few questions in a short Q&A – here are his responses:
Describe a typical day in the office?
The day is usually spent by looking at what products we have coming in for testing and setting up full materials trials on our test equipment. Some tests can run over several days – if this is the case, clearly customers can attend or, if they prefer, we can produce a video of the testing and email them the results. This is particularly handy if they are overseas customers.
Alongside my knowledge and experience, I’m typically using both product and equipment databases as resources in running the tests. This allows me to fully understand what our sales managers require from the test and what they need to produce for their customers.
In addition to the physical testing of products, I also work with the engineering department to provide feedback on how a test has gone. The main purpose of this is to supply technical support and direction so that customers can be provided with a fully engineered solution to their process issues. The results of which are effectively the foundations of our engineering solutions.
What is a ‘not so typical’ day in the office?
Well we had more than our fair share of odd products…chicken wings, thigh bones, fish food – all very smelly! Strangely enough, concentrated vanilla extract, which was spilt everywhere – had a lingering pong for years and I still don’t like the smell of vanilla since.
We’ve also had shimmery powder, used in make-up/foundation, which has left the lab glittery for days!
Describe the importance of product feasibility honesty v’s sales?
Once an application has been quoted for, I see it as my responsibility to find potential issues with the proposal and provide solutions. My previous experience in production and maintenance means that I fully understand and appreciate the ramifications further down the engineering line of not highlighting problems early on. By being honest about what will and will not work, means that I am not wasting customers’ time on a solution that could ultimately fail and prove costly for both parties.
What are the top tips you’d give to customers looking for equipment and what should they consider?
The first question I always ask is: how are you getting the product into our system and how are you getting it out? It is vital that we fully understand the nature for the product and, in particular, how Spiroflow equipment could fit into the entire process. If we can do that, we can recommend the best solution for the job.
Can you provide an example of how you overcame a really tricky problem?
Most customers get a positive result after doing machine trials, as we don’t progress any difficult products from the lab tests if we know that they are unlikely to work. We offer custom engineering solutions, so no two tests are the same. Sorry, but only good outcomes here!
Lastly, what is the best part of your job?
In reality, it’s consistently finding wholly workable solutions to customers’ tricky problems!