It’s tough to pin down Rick Garrison because he’s on the road so much for KVH Industries, showing technicians proper installation procedures and troubleshooting strategies for a range of KVH TracPhone and TracVision products.
But I managed to find him at KVH headquarters in Middletown, Rhode Island, on one of those rare days, right after he’d returned from five straight weeks on assignment in Nova Scotia and Louisiana, and just before he was about to head back out for a week of sessions in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Rick’s background is in engineering, and he’s been with KVH 20 years. He got his start on the manufacturing floor as a repair technician, later managing technical support and developing training programs for technicians and dealers.
“Systems have changed, technology has changed,” he said. “Technicians need to keep up with changes in equipment. Then it’s a matter of the dealer educating the end user how to use systems.” Because proper installation is critical to product performance, and therefore, client satisfaction, it’s Garrison’s top focus.
As the company continues to develop mobile satellite communication services and products, as well as product enhancements, technicians and dealers increasingly turn to online courses offered through the KVH eLearning Center portal to keep up. Successfully completing relevant courses as well as passing the online exams is a prerequisite for membership in KVH’s global Certified Support Network (CSN). CSN members provide top-level, hands-on technical support and field service for all of KVH’s antenna products.
Garrison’s ultimate goal is to require all dealers and technicians, including those who learned how to install the company’s products before the development of an internet-based curriculum, to successfully complete the online training and pass the exams, then move to advanced-level training.
Because KVH knows its customers have high expectations, dealers need to be trained to an equally high standard. “Customers demand expertise from the technicians and everyone needs to stay on top,” he noted. Also, due to the existence of KVH’s online education, as well as the recent addition of webinar training, Garrison’s hands-on training sessions in the service regions where dealers and technicians are actually located are increasingly tailored to specific needs.
These can cover a range of topics, from basic to highly specialized. And there’s never a dull moment handling cultural and language differences, as this is the part of the job that takes Garrison around the world, from Asia to Australia and New Zealand to Chile and Mexico.
Yet whatever arises in the field, what is most important is for dealers and technicians to know that their input is highly prized back at KVH headquarters. “The feedback from dealers in the field is valuable information, especially as we develop new product features,” Garrison said. For example, when the company released the new TracVision TV-series, a number of user-interface features were the direct result of input from dealers and technicians.
Training available through the elearning portal, and from Garrison’s sessions, promote key best practices, which go a long way toward ensuring excellent installation and outstanding performance of KVH products. Effective troubleshooting tackles these issues:
- Cabling: Use proper size and length; service loops, strain relief, and weather sealing are signs of correct cabling
- Connector terminations: “Improper F connector terminations are the single biggest failure. It accounts for approximately 20 – 30 percent of all installation issues we see, ” Garrison said.
- Potential blockages that result in reduced signal level: “This is vital to relay to end users, both before and after installation, to properly set expectations on performance,” Garrison said.
- Using the improper tool for the job: “It’s just wrong and there’s no excuse for it!” Garrison said.
- Proximity to other onboard installations, such as radar