ISSN 2330-717X

Lessons Learned: A Customer Satisfaction Story In Steam Boiler Markets – OpEd

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In 1984, I left my public service and got a job as an engineer in charge of sales and marketing in a large local contracting company. We had just obtained the design license of the American steam boiler manufacturer company. Before us, the same American boiler company sold industrial boilers to American companies in Turkey, and now their maintenance, repair and rehabilitation works were given to us.

One day, an invitation came from an American-owned tire manufacturer factory located in the Izmit region. I went to the factory. The plant engineers welcomed us and took us directly to the steam power plant of the factory without telling us about the subject. Our steam boiler did not work, but there was an extraordinary situation.

The combustion chamber of the water tube steam boiler is a space made of seamless steel drawn tubes. Seamless steel drawn boiler pipes are brought side by side, a steel strip is put between them, welded, the tube wall is formed. In this boiler, welded pipes with seam are used instead of drawn steel seamless pipes. Asme Astm norms allow welded pipe at this pressure. But who knows where the pipes were bought from, which standards were checked for compliance. Seeing the steam pressure, the welded pipes split open and burst. The boiler was out of use.

As the saying goes, it was as if boiling water was poured over my head, and I was sweating all over. I didn’t know what to say. We produced  the steam boiler in our factory. We used American norms and standards. The norms allowed the use of welded steel pipes in accordance with Asme Astm rules, but there was doubt about compliance with these norms in welded pipes. I presumed that we did not buy from a reliable manufacturer, I presumed that we used the production of a Balkan country using a fake document. In addition, the thin steel strips in between were not brought to the seam.

Tire Factory engineers showed me the situation on the spot, I saw the problem at the site. I returned to our Ankara headquarters, where I explained the situation to my boss verbally and then in writing. This was a serious situation that needed to be cleared without much publicity. Finally, the boss said, “disassemble the boiler in question, bring it to the factory, disconnect all the combustion chamber tubes, replace with new seamless steel drawn tubes from a reliable manufacturer, take the boiler back to the tire factory, put it back on, operate it, close the issue”.

We did exactly as we were told, this was a serious additional expense, however, we did not charge anything, we did not even think of asking for money. The client was satisfied with the resolution of the issue. The lack of steam boiler extra spare capacity was not noticed, the steam capacity of the boiler was sufficient for production, we were lucky during the renovation, there was no need for spare steam.

Our licensor, the American steam boiler company, and the buyer, the American tire company, were satisfied with the resolution of the issue. We made a serious expenditure, but we achieved market satisfaction. We never used welded pipes with seams in the production of steam boilers again. From then on, we always purchased seamless tubes from the most reliable manufacturers in the market, strictly inspecting their quality control documents.

Lesson learned: Customer satisfaction is very important and all kinds of expenses should be spent in this regard.

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Haluk Direskeneli

Haluk Direskeneli, is a graduate of METU Mechanical Engineering department (1973). He worked in public, private enterprises, USA Turkish JV companies (B&W, CSWI, AEP, Entergy), in fabrication, basic and detail design, marketing, sales and project management of thermal power plants. He is currently working as freelance consultant/ energy analyst with thermal power plants basic/ detail design software expertise for private engineering companies, investors, universities and research institutions. He is a member of Chamber of Turkish Mechanical Engineers Energy Working Group.

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