Meet ATS Professor Kevin Sheppard
If you have a problem with your automatic transfer switch, LionHeart should always be your first call. Why? We have the foremost expert in the operation of the automatic transfer switch, Kevin Sheppard.
“Kevin represents LionHeart tremendously in the field. He is very knowledgeable and I truly appreciate his methodical and analytical nature. He is a great technician and he surely knows his stuff.”LionHeart Client
“Kevin is Mr. Emergency. He is willing to interrupt his family life to take care of our customers. It is ridiculous how much our customers love him. Kevin is an example of the type of person we strive to bring on the team and is someone our younger FSE’s can model themselves after.”LionHeart President, Don Ritter
“Kevin is a fountain of knowledge and an absolute pleasure to work with. Always open to ideas and has a level headed approach to troubleshooting. Fun, laid back, confident and professional. That’s our Kevin.”EGSA’s Technician of the Year, Rob Plane
“Kevin was spoken of very highly of by my elevator folks, electricians and engineers. And they are not the types to dole out compliments.”LionHeart Client
Below is a fireside chat with our favorite ATS Professor:
How did you get interested in electrical engineering?
When I was young, I was fascinated by my uncle George who was an electrician and all around handyman and mechanic. In school, I was always involved in math and science classes. Later on, I was more interested in physics and applied science. That led me to electrical engineering.
While in college at UIC, what prepared you the most for your role as a field service engineer?
We had some good lab classes and one of the electives I took was “Three Phase Power and Industrial Motors.” It wasn’t a popular class at the time, but I thought it was very interesting.
What was your original role at GE Zenith?
My amazing wife Josie helped get me in, as a lab intern. I went from lab technician to applications engineer to field engineer to product development engineer. That’s when I started working in the lab developing electro-mechanical prototypes and electrical control prototypes.
What did you design at GE Zenith?
I was involved in the design team for the microprocessor based controllers. I would design for the specific needs of customer orders. After a change of personnel, the VP of Engineering wanted me to help the senior engineers. I brought the practical aspects from the field service standpoint and the end user standpoint to the table, which really helped the team.
What courses did you teach for GE Zenith?
They started a service school and needed someone with a service tech background to do a presentation on controls. I got help from my mentor Carl Kyrk in regards to public speaking. I then taught classes on relay logic and the electro-mechanical workings of the transfer switch.
There were classes that I taught to inside factory workers and classes for field technicians that I taught at the Zenith Service School. I was teaching classes four to six times a year for over ten years.
What is the most important part of properly maintaining an ATS?
Be aware of it and use it. The lubricants that are used in the factory initially have this way of gathering dirt and dust, then it becomes less of a lubricant and more of a sticky gumminess. Lubrication has a lot to do with diagnosis. Typically the solenoid doesn’t get weak. The job it has to do just gets harder. A lubricated switch is a happy switch.
The worst offenders are the clients who don’t want to transfer the switch. Be aware that you have a switch and are testing it on a regular basis. If you never transfer, you can create a problem. Hospitals are required by law to test, so the switch is more likely to work when called upon.
What environmental factors should clients do their best to avoid?
Dirt and dust are a bad thing. One big problem is that a new ATS will get installed when the building is in the construction phase. After it is installed, you have drywallers, tapers, painters, carpenters, electricians and other trades on the scene. If it doesn’t accidentally get physically damaged, plaster, dust, paint, and other debris can sneak in the cabinet which becomes a mechanical drag on the system. Any construction dust is very bad for an ATS. Start-ups and clean-ups after the construction process are very important for the health of an ATS.
What are some of the nuances of the modern ATS switch?
Everything is designed to be more cost effective in the modern ATS. Things were overbuilt in the earlier days of the transfer switch. Some of the changes are justified, some are not. So there is less longevity with the device now. With the advent of electronics there is more obsolescence and proprietary type devices needed to troubleshoot and test it.
Earlier, when things were relay logic you could follow the logic and find the part or relay at Grainger and get the ATS working again. Now you have a microprocessor type board and you need a certain version of software and you need things to connect to it. The problem might not be a component anymore, it could be the whole controller.
What do you like most about working for LionHeart?
I really enjoy working with all the other Field Service Engineers. Everyone gets along really well. I take pride in answering questions from them. I like going to different places daily and encountering new challenges. It is nice to see how everything is doing on a site that you go to on an annual basis.