I have the greatest job in the world… I know, people tell me every day.
I travel almost every week to somewhere in the United States, visiting breweries and helping them maintain positive quality assurance and quality control programs using Anton Paar instruments. Inevitably a conversation in an airport bar will lead to: “So, what is it you do?” My response has been reduced to, “I work helping breweries maintain their quality programs.” The range of responses I have gotten go from disbelief (“No way; that wasn’t an option when I was in college!”) to the envious (“I wish I had that job.”) to the downright mean (“Who died and left you that job?”).
It’s a great job and I love working for Anton Paar. However, my clients are in production 24/7, so I am happy to make myself available outside of traditional work hours.
Anton Paar’s brewery clients include the largest breweries in the world. Here in the US, they include breweries that produce many millions of barrels of beer each year. In order to produce that much beer, they have to operate multiple locations and have three full shifts working around the clock.
If there is a question related to the production process and Anton Paar instruments, I answer the call for help.
Last fall, I was enjoying some time with my wife, two sons (ages 6 and 3) and some friends on Friday evening at our house near Philadelphia. It was about 7 o’clock and my two boys were about to watch a movie. My phone rings and I look at the caller ID – the call was coming from a very large brewery in Colorado. One of our biggest clients….
The moment I picked up the line, I could hear the alarms going off on the keg line in the background. This was trouble, but an easy, albeit time-consuming, fix. My wife turned to our friends and said, “I know who the client is… J.P. has to take the call” and then apologized to our friends while I stepped into my home office.
The client was not sure about the best solution. “I must have made an error when I was making an adjustment,” he anxiously states over the phone. The primary keg line was now in full sanitation mode and could not be interrupted for 4 hours, so we buckled down to minimize the disruption to the production process.
It took five minutes to determine that the units for one of the parameters being adjusted had been changed from g/cm3 to pounds per gallon – a difference of a factor of 8.3. The adjustment caused a calculated value for Real Extract – a measure of the amount of sugars and flavors in a beer – to go to negative 600 °Plato. I have had some light beer before, but that is a bit extreme (most beers come in at around 1 to 5 °Plato and a negative reading means that not only is there no extract/flavor, it’s even less than tasteless). The controller programming did not know what to do with this value, so the emergency default was to go into a sanitizing cycle.
Between the client, the third party programmer, and me, we were able to get the keg line back operating again by around 11 pm. I told the client that I would be available all night if anything else happened.
I chose to sleep that night with my cell phone on my chest on the couch in my office. No additional calls were made.
Everyone needs to take a break at some point. That is why, for one week a year, my wife and kids and I fall off the face of the Earth. We travel to a small island in the middle of nowhere, where our cell phones don’t work, there are no TVs or computers, and we simply enjoy being with each other.
And the best thing is, because my clients know that I am going to be available for the majority of the year, for that one week they are OK with me being out of touch – plus, I have a great support team at Anton Paar USA to step in when needed.
It truly is a great job and one that I wouldn’t trade in, even though many have asked. The support we give our clients is outstanding and that’s why they rely on us.Contact an Anton Paar Expert