When machines deliver impressive performance and you still feel very small

Ivan Bédon is 53 years old, a trained mechanic and Field Service Manager at Aebi Schmidt Ibérica. He is responsible for service and maintenance of our customers’ machines and equipment. Recently, he was called to La Palma airport on the Canary Island of the same name, where the Cumbre Vieja volcano has been spewing smoke, ash and lava into the air at regular intervals for over 50 days now. Fortunately, the volcano has not yet claimed any lives, but the destruction and suffering of the islanders is severe. Even though field service managers like Ivan are experienced in dealing with special situations, it is unusual to be called to such an area.

Ivan took some footage on site at La Palma airport and we wanted to know from him what effect the unusually large amount of ash has on our sweepers. "Well, I don't have to make a secret of it, but I actually didn't know what exactly would be different in terms of maintenance of the machines with so much ash. We have a lot of experience with soot, but unlike soot, ash is a solid. Solids, however, are something that our sweepers deal with on a daily basis and even very well, so we assumed that we would probably simply find more, but not unknown, contamination. That turned out to be the case."

When you listen to Ivan, you realise how passionate he is about his job. He explains how important well-maintained machines are points out that La Palma Airport is a good example in this respect. This is now paying off in this particular and unusual situation. In the past weeks, the sweepers have reliably ensured that the runways at the airport were cleared of ash, keeping La Palma accessible via the important air route. "If the machines had not been well maintained, there would have been a latent risk of a machine breaking down under the special circumstances and then air operations would also have been restricted," says Ivan. "I was less surprised that despite the ash the machines remained efficient without any cutbacks, because they are qualitatively and technologically designed to be able to deal with every conceivable situation." Proud of course, but he says it nonetheless pretty carefully and adds: "You know, I'm of course fascinated every day of our machines and I'm happy if I can contribute in keeping our customers operational. But when you fly to the island and see the volcano and its devastation from above, or when you not only see it but also feel it on the island, you feel very small at the same time. The power of the volcano is impressive and I feel sorry for all the people on the island who now have to suffer from it, maybe even have lost their belongings and livelihood." Ivan asks us to express our sympathy for the people affected on La Palma. We do so, of course, and hope that Cumbre Vieja will soon calm down.

Ivan Bédon, Field Service Manager at Aebi Schmidt Ibérica