By Lynette Brown
Tektronix prides itself on being there for the customer, whenever they need us. This includes working onsite directly with some customers every day. Tektronix has several permanent onsite technicians located full-time at customer facilities. We provide all labor, calibration standards, support equipment, IT infrastructure and management oversight for ongoing calibration services. What's it like to have a Tektronix technician right there to provide support every day? Let's look at our Sandia National Labs permanent onsite to find out!
Keith has been the permanent onsite Field Service Technician at Sandia National Labs (Albuquerque, NM) since 1989. Originally established in 1980 to support scopes and plug-ins for the particle accelerators, the services have expanded over the years to include equipment used for computer security, high energy and radiation, space debris impact simulation, high explosives, nanorobotics, radar and telemetry.
A typical day for Keith includes answering emails and requests for technical assistance, starting calibration service orders, picking up and delivering instruments, and everyone's favorite, billing tasks. But there is never a dull moment at the Sandia location. As Keith notes, "The varied applications in which they use Tektronix equipment keep things interesting. Much of the work they do is classified, so I don't ask many questions. It's exciting to try and figure out a solution when they can't tell you much about what they're doing. There's a trust the customers have in me and my abilities. And it's always impressive to feel the ground shake when the accelerators fire. "
Tektronix was originally onsite at Sandia to provide the Particle Beam Fusion Accelerator 1 (PBFAI) with daily support for the Tektronix 7912AD digitizers. This service was extremely important as it allowed repairs and calibrations to be completed just steps from the Accelerator's recording systems.
This progressed to include additional equipment needed to support the hundreds of high-speed recording channels used to acquire data on a daily basis. As Jerry Mills, Senior Information Systems Architect, notes, "Keith and Tektronix help us pull a recorder from our system, get a calibration or repair performed, and getting the unit placed back into the system within a day or two. Sometimes even within hours. This capability has allowed us to operate our multichannel recording system without needing additional, expensive recording assets to be 'on-the-shelf’ as spares and has allowed us to use practically 100% of our digitizer resources to record waveform data."
The scope of service Keith provides to the accelerator, now known as the “Z Machine”, has grown over time to include providing calibration support for Sandia's calibration facility. He has become the primary source for Tektronix calibrations and provides service in just 2-3 days.
Like any organization, they've had to update and replace equipment over time. Space limitations restricted instrument options and it was important that servicing the units didn’t require removal and shipping to an outside lab. Being on site and intimately knowledgeable about Sandia's calibration needs, Keith went above and beyond to find a way to perform the annual calibrations required on new equipment from multiple manufacturers. He even figured out how to bring his equipment into the facility to perform calibration checks on units that live in the Beryllium environment, thus removing Beryllium contamination concerns, which is a big worry for Sandia as it requires equipment to be extensively cleaned and tested. "The ability for us to still be able to pull recorders and get them calibrated onsite was retained and likely saved us a considerable amount of effort, time and money." says Jerry.
The Tektronix commitment to quality goes beyond just building the best test and measurement instruments, to ensuring our customers have the service and support that gives them the confidence in the results from their Tektronix and Keithley equipment. Keith embodies this commitment and keeps the equipment at the Sandia National Labs at the level needed to pursue their mission of developing advanced technologies to ensure global peace.
Learn more about our service delivery options. Link: https://www.tek.com/calibration-services/delivery-options