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How Far Will We Go for a Customer?

Bruker service engineers spend much of their time traveling to customer sites, logging thousands of miles/kilometers in airplanes, trains and automobiles in order to meet our customers face-to-face and provide onsite service. While we don’t know the longest travel ever recorded for a Bruker visit, there was a recent installation that was notable for a few reasons!

In November 2018, the first Bruker preclinical MRI scanner was installed in Africa at the University of Zululand. The instrument was purchased by the Chemistry Department’s polymers and nanocomposites unit in collaboration with DVC of Teaching and Learning.

The instrument was installed in the Science Centre, located in the Zululand Chamber of Business foundation Community Park in Richard’s Bay. The Centre has received numerous accolades for promoting interest in science, engineering and technology and is home to more than 130 innovative exhibits produced locally and abroad. The Centre forms part of the University’s community outreach initiative that is focused on developing inquiring minds.

According to Ntombikhona Nompumelelo Sibiya, of the Department of Chemistry, the instrument will be used for research collaborations for academic and postgraduate students in many disciplines offered by the University, including botany, zoology, biochemistry, microbiology, agriculture, anthropology, palaeontology, geography and environmental studies. Mrs. Sibiya also mentioned the possibility of extending the use of the instrument to external, local industries in the future. She noted that the University chose a Bruker preclinical MRI not only because quality was critical, but also because they had previous experience with our service.

For this historic installation, Bruker Service Engineer Fabio Gianferrari gamely agreed to travel from Italy to install the instrument. Supporting customers, no matter how far away, is part of the Bruker culture and participating in this momentous installation was a tremendous opportunity.  The trip marked Fabio’s first visit to Africa. He packed a bag, boarded a plane (or two or three), rented a car and made his way to the University.

Shipping the instrument from Germany to South Africa took some time but went without incident. While a benchtop instrument, the 1T is still rather heavy and positioning the magnet requires special care. With a little assistance from local colleagues and an A-frame, the instrument was positioned in place and ready when Fabio arrived onsite. One unforeseen challenge Fabio faced was that the plugs shipped from Europe did not fit the electrical sockets. Even with scientifically advanced instrumentation, sometimes it’s the common daily issues that pose the problem. But as a veteran of many service calls, Fabio was not deterred. After a quick trip to a local shop for adaptors he was able to successfully complete installation.

The Bruker 1T preclinical MRI installed in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Zululand.

To ensure the instrument was working properly, Fabio and  Nduduzo Khumalo, Chemistry Technician at the University, ran a test on a rubber sample.

All worked according to spec and Fabio was able to head home but not before saying farewell to his gracious and happy hosts!

From left to right: Mr ZS Ncanana- Laboratory Assistant, Mrs NN Sibiya – Senior Laboratory Assistant, Mr NL Khumalo-Laboratory Technician, Mr PW Zibane-Laboratory Assistant