Today’s Industry Person of the Week is Gakuo Ndonga, Application Engineering Expert at SKF Group. Here is what he had to share!
Q. How did you get started working in your field?
Gakuo: I began working in the fluid machinery industry in 2012 for a small pump distributor in the greater Philadelphia area. While my degree was in Mechanical Engineering, I began my career working as an Inside Sales Engineer. This position required wearing two distinct hats: sales and engineering. Although it was challenging, it helped me strengthen my formal writing and presentation abilities while learning how to meet the technical needs of various industrial customers. I am now an Application Engineering Expert with SKF supporting both colleagues and customers with bearing and lubrication expertise for pump applications.
Q. What do you love the most about your job? What are you most proud of?
Gakuo: It’s exciting to combine my previous experiences specifying and designing pump systems with the application of bearings in pump designs. My knowledge and understanding of the system view where a pump is installed and operated can help provide insight on the design side when it comes to selecting the right bearings for a given application. Design choices such as contact angle, internal clearance, and sealing are best selected by understanding the pump design, process and system much more closely. I have been fortunate to take part in some exciting projects over the years with SKF. One of these projects was the development of a standardized process to conduct bearing damage investigations. Part of this project involved developing entirely new mobile and PC-based software for internal and external use. It was exciting to be part of the team to transform and digitalize our business, engineering and bearing damage investigation process. The contributors to the project were recognized globally through SKF’s annual excellence awards.
Q. What advice would you give to someone considering this line of work or new to the field?
Gakuo: We are in an interesting time where the industry is transforming and evolving rapidly. As the industry is transitioning to an up and coming workforce, the business and operations side is evolving as well. Many of the traditional methods of customer interaction and even field work are being streamlined with the use of digital technology and data. Many customer interactions are being automated through software programs and systems. Product pricing and delivery information is exchanged through portals and systems more than ever. In the field, planning and executing manual machine re-lubrication and condition monitoring walking routes can now be eliminated with the use of wireless sensors and automatic re-lubricators. All of these innovations ultimately transform the engineering field to be much more data driven than before. My advice to those who are entering the workforce is to be adaptable and embrace these changes and innovations.
Q. Can you talk about a project you recently worked on?
Gakuo: In June of 2019, SKF presented its new Fiber Optic Sensing technology at our SKF Technical Press Day in Philadelphia, PA. I have been supporting the growth of this technology with SKF, and it was rewarding to demonstrate it to trade journalists for the first time. This technology can provide customers with the ability to measure bearing loads in real-time using fiber optic cables integrated into each bearing. This load sensing capability has not been available in the past. We hope it can provide designers with validation about their design principles, especially in pump applications for which this technology was originally developed.