Located in the northwest of China, Xinjiang is vast in area but has a relatively weak medical service. To relieve the burden of care, Mindray has an office set up in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, and also has some field service engineers assigned and stationed in the southern regions of Kulle, Aksu and Kashgar and the northern region of Yili, based on population distribution. Despite the difficulties in recruiting and remotely managing the field service engineers, the Xinjiang Customer Service team is still committed to dispatching such engineers to provide timely and professional customer services to medical institutions at different levels in Xinjiang.
Since joining Mindray in 2011, Chen Yilin has been based in Kashgar, the westernmost city of China, providing Mindray equipment services for medical institutions in Kashgar and the adjacent Kizilsu Kirgiz region. Kashgar is nearly 1,500 kilometers from Urumqi, and the journey takes about two hours by plane. Chen is responsible for an area of more than 250,000 m2, equivalent to the combined area of Jiangsu and Anhui provinces. His service radius is roughly 200 km – half of his operations are within 200 km, and he usually travels to these locations by driving. He drives around 40,000 km a year, equivalent to one full trip around the Earth's equator. The other half of his job requires him to travel beyond 200 km, and he will travel by coach, train or plane if public transport is available, reaching as far as Minfeng County in the Hotan region, southeast of Kashgar, at a distance of nearly 1,000 km each way.
Like other service engineers, after receiving a WO, Mr. Chen will first contact the target hospital to determine the operating condition of the equipment, and then make an appointment with the hospital if on-site service is needed. Before leaving, he will plan a visit to other hospitals along the way or in the vicinity that are equipped with Mindray equipment in order to check the equipment's maintenance status. Mindray is the only medical device company with a service engineer stationed in Kashgar, and Mr. Chen is the only such engineer. As Mindray's westernmost worker in China, he doesn't even have a normal office there. Far away from his home base, he sometimes gets information relatively late. He has to deal with most work-related issues alone and doesn't usually have much interaction with others.
Mr. Chen is a service engineer for blood-cell and biochemical equipment. But early on, he had to deal with all Mindray equipment-related issues in the Kashgar region. Mr. Chen remembers during the early days when he installed the machines in hospitals, the local physicians and health workers, with little knowledge of the equipment, would be satisfied if the equipment was installed in the correct place and could work to produce some kind of results. As the responsible engineer, he often had to teach them about the equipment's functionality and better utilization techniques. With the addition of channel engineer partners and improved logistics, warehousing and transportation conditions, he moved away from his role as a general housekeeper, and concentrated his efforts towards equipment inspection, providing more professional services to customers. In addition, as a Mindray advocate in the Kashgar region, he is able to spend more time and energy coordinating and maintaining customer relationships, and provide timely and accurate service to Kashgar's healthcare providers. Now, with their improved professional skills, the local medical staff are also able to identify problems and detect errors in the operation of the equipment, placing higher demands on Mindray's services. "We take stock (of our customers' needs) every year and plan what we should do for them, and then we keep on striving to do more. Our clients' professional competence has greatly improved, and so has our own ability. " Mr. Chen said.
When Wang Hua joined Mindray 21 years ago, the Xinjiang branch was still in its infancy. At that time, he always kept a large bag in his office packed with all his household supplies and maintenance tools, ready to go as soon as he received a WO. Mr. Wang usually travels more than 200 days a year, and in the first two years after joining Mindray, he ran through all the counties and cities in Xinjiang. It became a routine for him to travel 12 or 13 hours by night bus from Urumqi to the target hospitals. The farthest one was in Hotan, requiring a total journey of 1,700 km across the desert.
Whenever carrying out servicing in a hospital, he would also do an inspection of all Mindray equipment in the surrounding area, and handle the problems promptly or report them in advance, a service tradition that continues to this day. "(At that time) personal factors, including my enthusiasm and motivation, played an important role in my work, which gave me the initiative I needed to help me through hard times. " Mr. Wang recalled. In addition to the endurance required to overcome the hardships and fatigue caused by the long journeys, Mindray's engineers in Xinjiang have to rely on experience and cooperation to make up for the poor local technical conditions. They would inspect the equipment status in advance and repair the damaged components by any means possible; in the case of a circuit board replacement, they would call their colleagues in Urumqi to find and send the circuit board overnight via the long-distance "express" bus, ensuring that the hospital's work would not be affected by any failure of Mindray's equipment.
Following the increasing development of Mindray's business in Xinjiang, the team of service engineers has also expanded from a one man band to a small team of four to five people. However, due to the vast territory and poor natural environment of Xinjiang itself, the team faced increasing pressure in meeting the growing demands for timely and professional equipment services, needing to travel long distances from their primary site at Urumqi to provide on-site services at the customer's location. Therefore, Mindray Xinjiang introduced the stationed service engineer model.
After more than two decades of development, Mindray's products have been widely used at all levels of medical institutions across the vast territory, and the Mindray Xinjiang service team, including stationed service engineers, is on hand to service the equipment for all these medical institutions. Like Chen Yilin, Wang Hua also has a strong sense of pride, why? "It's like a classroom where some students must prove that they are no worse than the others in terms of academic performance, in spite of the difficult conditions they find themselves in. The fact that the best hospitals in Xinjiang are currently using Mindray's equipment is a good testament to this. Now all of Mindray Xinjiang's engineers must carry on this tradition of excellence when servicing in hospitals, leaving no customer complaints about Mindray's service quality. " Mr. Wang said.
image 1 to image 4: Mindray’s service engineers working on site