Harald “Harry” Pokorny travels all over the world with his work with Xylem, from the ski slopes of Austria to the Yangtze River in Nanjing, China. He is an expert service technician with more than 30 years of experience helping Xylem customers. Learn his best advice for preventing pump system failures.
What is a typical day at work like for you?
My projects usually start by getting all the instructions and information about a customer’s service needs from my team leader. If necessary, I collect spare parts or replacement pumps from my Xylem office in Stockerau, Austria. Then I go to the customer’s site, which can be in Austria or as far away as Belarus, Turkey or China.
What kinds of challenges are your customers facing?
When I get called out, my customers mainly need help with three things: either commissioning, repair or maintenance. Commissioning includes checking the pumps and pipework to be installed, training local site staff, and the first start up.
Repair involves checking pump systems, failure detection, troubleshooting, disassembling the pump, if necessary, replacing faulty parts with spare parts, reassembling pumps, and performing test runs. Maintenance work includes checking pumps and, if I find wear or severe damage, installing spare parts. If spare parts aren’t on hand, I arrange for the spare parts or pumps to be replaced later.
The worst-case scenario for every customer is that a faulty pump leads to a complete pump system breakdown. This can even result in stopping an entire production line at an industrial site, power plant, wastewater treatment plant or even a ski resort where they make snow.
How do you help solve these challenges?
First, I inspect the whole system, then discuss the system parameters with local site staff to check whether they are well informed about how the pumps should be used. I train the staff about pump functions, failure detection and, if possible, how they can solve issues and do some repair work on their own.
The most efficient way to avoid future problems or system failures is to train the local staff on the correct way to use the pumps. I have been working with Xylem for more than 30 years, so I have a lot of experience in helping customers get the best use out of their applications. I love to help customers solve their problems.
Are there other challenges when working on site?
The biggest challenges are bad weather and if spare parts are not immediately available. Since my work takes me all over the world, I can get in some unexpected situations. Once I was in the mountains working on a snow-making system, and the weather changed so quickly that I had to be picked up by a helicopter.
Another time I was working on an application in Iskenderun, Turkey, and heard gunshots caused by a local conflict with the PKK (The Kurdistan Workers’ Party). Fortunately, I wasn’t in any danger but that was definitely a memorable experience. In critical situations, it’s always smart to stay with the local site staff as they know their surroundings best.
What has been your favorite project at Xylem?
My favorite projects are the snow-making systems, since they are key to Austrian tourism. I like to work with the big, multistage pumps that are usually installed with these systems.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Probleme sind da um gelöst zu warden” – Problems are there to be solved.