A Systems test engineer with Agilent Technologies, Mr Kelvin Ma works in the life sciences instruments manufacturing facility that produces the Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (LCMS) instruments among other life sciences instruments for the global market.

Agilent Technologies is the world’s premier measurement company and a technology leader in chemical analysis, life sciences, electronics and communications. It provides core electronic and bio-analytical measurement tools to advance the electronics, communications, life sciences research, pharmaceutical, environmental and petrochemical industries.

The company employs about 500 people in research and development, manufacturing, sales and business hub activities. Singapore is its hub for infrastructure, strategic supply chain, global logistics, treasury and marketing services functions.

The LCMS instruments basically separate and identify chemicals with high sensitivity and selectivity. They are widely used by pharmaceutical companies for many applications, from basic research to manufacturing and quality control.

Mr Ma’s job is to ensure that the final product assembled works properly and meets all technical specifications before it is shipped to customers. He also tests all the new products that are released to the manufacturing line by the R&D team.

The 33-year-old spends the majority of his day on the production line training new chemical testers on the job and teaching them about the mass spectrometer.

He also deals with different issues from multiple instruments, which he has to resolve as accurately as possible within the shortest time so as not to affect the production schedule.

“I have to innovate and initiate ways to improve product quality. If there are common failures, more in-depth engineering study is required and sometimes, the instrument needs to be quarantined in order to pinpoint the root cause,” says Mr Ma, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering from Nanyang Technological University.

His greatest job challenge was transferring four products within a year from the United States to Singapore.

“I had to learn about the products quickly — the technology, technical specifications, how the instruments work and how to test them,” he says.

“As I need to help the team meet the production target, I’m inspired to improve my product knowledge and troubleshooting skills.”

Mr Ma, who had two overseas training stints in Delaware in the US last year, found his US counterparts professional and forthcoming in sharing their knowledge.

Though his main job is in instrument testing, he also needs interpersonal skills to manage the different groups of people he works with.

He is gratified that his organisation is a cohesive one and everyone is helpful. He says: “We have a common goal to meet the production target and everyone is aligned.”

Mr Ma feels a sense of achievement when he successfully troubleshoots test problems of complex instruments.

“I love that I’m constantly acquiring new knowledge as I need to deal with many instruments. Through my job, I got to know more about the mass spectrometer instrument and the science behind it.

“It is exciting to know that the instrument I help to test improves the quality of our lives, for example, in ensuring that the food we eat is safe and the discovery of new drugs to treat diseases,” he adds.