When a serialization solution is to be implemented in the Pharmaceutical Industry, who carries this out?
The creation of a packaging line with serialization capabilities is a multi-team, multi-disciplinary undertaking, and the point where design meets implementation requires hands-on expertise. Such a design needs to be installed, tested, and validated to proceed towards being proven viable for production. These operations should be carried out in conjunction with the rest of the packaging line, and there is a need for this implementation to fulfil the specifications of the client and the design documentation. This is where the Field Engineer (FE) fulfils their function.
There are several different activities a Field Engineer can carry out according to the stage the project is at. A start-up is the initial implementation of a project, the point at which the design takes shape on a line and the station design is installed, configured, and verified. Here the automated visual inspection system is configured for the client’s products, and a serialization and aggregation solution is trial run for its eventual installation in a production facility.
During a FAT or SAT (Factory/Site Acceptance Test), a sequence of validations are carried out to test the conformity of the delivered system to the documentation and its correct function. Approval of the project to proceed to the next phase depends on these tests, and the Field Engineer is the resource on-site to assist the execution of these rigorous validations while responding to the evolving and dynamic needs of a client as they see the packaging line in action.
A Field Engineer also performs upgrades for continued project support, or to boost the capabilities of a system on site. During this upgrade they execute the improvements, which may be to hardware or software, and then root out any incompatibilities that may have resulted from the step. The objective when finished is to maintain all previous functionality while demonstrating the benefits of the upgrade to the quality of the line.
The Field Engineer must work side-by-side with clients, project engineering, fabricators, and third-party technicians (such as for printers and PLCs) to advance the project and prove robustness. Being on-site, the Field Engineer also interacts with the technicians who operate the solution in production on a daily basis, making the Field Engineer a link between the initial design and the end user.
In order to configure, troubleshoot and support, the Field Engineer must have robust knowledge of serialization software´s working environment, the automated vision system setup and related hardware, with an understanding of how these interface with PLCs, sensors, and the packaging line’s logic.
Being a function that requires adaptability and mobility, the Field Engineer travels frequently to different sites, often following the same project across different phases, making them a resource with familiarity of the project. The field engineer’s adaptability lies not just in staying ahead of changes in automation vision and serialization technology, as well as the hardware used in the industry, but also in the conditions of the role, such as site working hours, bridging languages and providing evolving, continual customer service.