Why Send Two Kyles to Puerto Rico?
Smith Engineering recently sent Service Technicians, Kyle Boucher and Kyle Trudeau, to Puerto Rico to install a water system loop for future additions to the Medtronic Villalba facility. “We extended two loops to add additional points of use for a second heater system. One system has been around since the nineties and is still functioning as it should be,” said Trudeau.
The Smith team timed the installation process so there was no disruption to the work being done in the facility. Boucher stated, “We keep a small footprint when doing the work, so we are not in their way.”
A challenge the team faced was mapping the loop in the ceiling and the floor, going around the existing utilities and then making it a reality. They also had to plan their work schedule around the production schedule of the facility. They were only allowed to work in the cleanroom when production was not taking place. They worked long days when production was not happening. They also prefabricated as much piping as they could outside the cleanroom.
Other challenging aspects of working in Puerto Rico were the language and cultural barriers. “Effectively communicating with people on the job site and in the general population was interesting,” said Boucher. “Not everyone speaks English. There are a lot of nice people down there. If anyone saw us struggling with language and were bi-lingual, they would translate for us,” said Trudeau.
Lastly, not having supplies readily available was a challenge. “If we need specialized parts, it’s not possible to have one of our tech’s run to our “shop” and pick it up. Most everything is already down there, but occasionally you need something that is not available. Luckily, there is overnight shipping and they do have Home Depot which is helpful,” said Boucher.
The Minnesotan Kyles found many nuances in Puerto Rico. “Driving in Puerto Rico is a unique experience,” said Trudeau, “Paying attention, knowing where you are going and maybe a little aggressive driving are very helpful skills to have to get around some of the places on the island.” Kyle Boucher noted, “There are a lot of stray dogs and cats in Puerto Rico. On a previous trip, dog-loving co-worker, Dustin Dupont, would buy cans of dog food and stop and feed the strays.” The Kyles’ enjoyed a little down time too. “We drove to the top of the mountains which was neat. On the last day I went for a walk on the beach which was beautiful,” said Boucher.
Kyle Boucher took advantage of a full kitchen, “Usually when they technician’s go down to Puerto Rico, they tend to eat out a lot. The last couple of times I decided to take advantage of the kitchens and grills at our Airbnb. I cooked some good ol’ fashioned rib sticking meals. Unless they guys are lying, the reception on the meals have been unanimously positive. When I was with Bob Lucas (VP of Sales) in February, he said he was going to need to go on a diet when he got home.”
The loop is now ready for the new system. Once Medtronic finishes construction, Smith will install the skid and the system will be operational in little time due to the advanced planning. Their parts cleaning process is also improved due to the additional station utilizing DI water.