By the Lab Equipment Maintenance team and Caitlin Clark
In March 2020, the KAUST Core Labs welcomed the Lab Equipment Maintenance (LEM) team to the Core Labs family. LEM serves the University’s research community through equipment maintenance and technical support services, providing a centralized maintenance strategy for critical instrumentation and equipment. The team also advises on instrument technology advancements and maintains a world-class inventory of KAUST’s research instrumentation.
Through partnerships with the deans of the University’s research Divisions, directors of the Research Centers and faculty members, the LEM team ensures research-related equipment is serviced and maintained, allowing students, researchers and principal investigators to focus on science and innovation.
A diverse team
“LEM strives to be the preeminent global model for research equipment maintenance and support,” stated Jason Serin, LEM manager. “We expect to reach this vision through our dedication to and focus on the highest quality of service and customer experience.”
The LEM team is split into four units covering KAUST’s research—Analytical Technologies; Physical Technologies; Biosciences; and Workshop and Hydraulics. Specialists from the team also host the LEM Academy, in which KAUST students, postdoctoral fellows, research scientists and technical staff members expand their understanding of the technology behind specific scientific instruments.
“Trainees learn about the theoretical and physical aspects of instrumentation through both lectures and hands-on experiences,” Serin explained. “The resulting technical insights translate into clearer understanding and higher levels of confidence for instrument output.”
Customer service excellence
In June 2020, LEM and all of its team members were certified by the Total Customer Focus (TCF) Program from Global Partners Training. The course included over 50 contact training hours and peer coaching sessions, with a focus on three areas: “Becoming Proactive;” “Getting to Real Needs;” and “Achieving Balanced Outcomes.”
Training was provided by Serin and Ralph Timmermeester, lead of LEM’s Physical Technologies Unit, who were certified as trainers by TCF in 2019 in the U.S. This means they may also conduct additional TCF training sessions with other organizations. Serin plans to develop a TCF LEM Academy course to train interested individuals from KAUST and from other external organizations, including other major Saudi academic institutions.
“TCF enabled the LEM team to learn many soft skills and techniques that will help them to better understand their customers and improve their decision-making and communication skills,” Serin said. “We will now have improved customer relationships that focus on truly understanding the customer and providing top-level service.
“For example, the team is now trained to not only respond to requests but to also anticipate needs and help solve issues in the lab before they become problems. We feel the program will take LEM to the next level to become a true partner in enabling research.”
Contributing to KAUST
“The past five months since LEM joined the Core Labs have been an extraordinary time,” Serin continued. “I believe—and Core Labs senior leadership colleagues have also stated—that the LEM team has demonstrated to the Core Labs that we are passionate in our mission, professional in our actions and very technically talented."
“LEM team members have much to learn from the Core Labs in terms of operations, but we also have much we can teach,” he said. “It is a great time in the history of LEM to be a significant contributor to and beneficiary of a highly talented and well-managed organization.”