Terry Harvey, biomass engineer at Northumberland based wood fuel specialist, re:heat, tells us about his role
How would you sum up what you do on a typical day?
A typical day, if there is such a thing, would include telephone calls to customers or other engineers who might require additional support. There are always reports and proposals to catch up on but the bulk of the day could see me working anywhere from a National Trust stately home to a golf club to a domestic property.
What would you say is the best bit about your day?
Without question it’s when having got to the root cause of a problem I’m able to make the repair and get a customer’s heating back on. A problem with a heating system can result in discomfort, health problems or even a loss of livelihood, so by making a repair we can be solving or avoiding a whole host of other problems for the customer.
What is the biggest challenge?
By the very nature of my work, fault diagnosis over the telephone is never ideal. There is no substitute for getting in front of the boiler in order to understand the problem and make the repair.
What made you decide to become a biomass engineer?
I’d worked in the heating industry for some time, including running my own successful business. As the renewables sector really started to take off, re:heat, with whom I’d previously worked as a sub-contractor, approached me with an opportunity to develop and expand its service support offering to both domestic and commercial customers.
What is it you love about your job?
It’s the variety of people I meet and places I visit. I can spend my morning in a very grand listed building and my afternoon in a leisure centre. As more people and businesses have seen the economic and environmental benefits of switching to renewables, there are now more boilers in the market that are in need of servicing or repair. In the interests of safety and cost, customers need to know the engineer they’re calling out is qualified and experienced. I get great satisfaction from re:heat’s work to drive these standards across the industry.
What makes a great biomass engineer?
An enquiring nature, an ability to apply theory and knowledge to practical challenges and to communicate clearly with customers, fellow engineers and others in the supply chain. A sense of humour never goes amiss either!
What advice would you have for people about to embark on a career in biomass
The industry and technologies that support it are evolving rapidly so build as broad a base of knowledge as possible. You’re going to be working in a profession that requires an understanding of anything and everything from electronics to the effects of fuel quality on combustion.