Fighting Overvoltages with Surge Arresters for 30 Years

Even though I have been in the electrification industry for 30 years, I still learn something new every day. I started my career as a design engineer for surge protective devices (low voltage surge arresters) but then as the Medium Voltage technology was changing very fast, I shifted to that. My very first project was to design a surge arrester for a big customer (EDF) in France, and that project taught me immensely. Not only about the product but also about design and materials in general, working in a team and surge arrester testing, which is a very specific field of know-how. It was a major project, and the schedule was tight.

The Charm Lies in Interesting Electricity

My years in the electrification industry have been super interesting and that is the charm for me. I have been the whole time at the same location, Bagnéres de Bigorre in the southwest of France, but have changed companies many times. For Ensto I have been working since 2016. I have a diploma in electrical engineering and have always been interested in electricity. As a small child I loved building things such as houses and boats with Legos. As a bit older kid, I started to learn about electricity by myself and do jobs in the electrical field. When I chose the direction for my studies, I preferred electrotechnology and when I started working, I naturally focused on electricity and related applications.

Surge Arrester Expert for Life

Today, I am still dealing with surge arresters – my technical expertise is special, thorough, and deep. I am responsible for the technical development of the products as well as technical support to salespeople and the customers. Surge arresters seem to be very simple as products but there is a lot of technology inside them, as well as many applications and design related factors. I must understand and master many aspects and that is very fascinating. It is not a typical product, and it has many characteristics that people are not aware of. And that is what I enjoy the most: I know the product like my own pockets.

Becoming an Expert by Learning

The customers and my colleagues teach me something new every day – they ask questions and I need to be able to answer them in an intelligible way. For the design I work together with my team, but the technical support requires focus and is lonelier as a task. We have many international customers, and my working languages are French, English, and Spanish – even if I don’t use the last mentioned very much and it is a bit rusty. I feel there is a good balance in my tasks when it comes to working alone or as part of a team.

Solving Customers Problems Feels Good

The surge arrester field of business is very conservative, and the products have been on the market for a long time. I think that regarding technological aspects, we have reached the maximum level of optimization. Even though the technology should not evolve any more, the product is a very good one and is solving surge problems every day all over the world.

One of the most motivating cases are our surge arresters in South Africa, which is a large market for us. There are extreme weather conditions in the area, including severe storms, and our big customer had difficulties with their existing products leading to many fault situations. We visited the customer and had many discussions to find a way to replace the existing products. Our surge arresters were the solution and still today, we all have good memories of that cooperation.

Hiking, Fishing and Motorcycling

In my spare time I like going to the mountains for trekking and fishing – alone or with friends. I usually go to very remote terrains, so it is important to keep one’s safety in mind. My other dear hobby is motorcycling and when living in the southern part of Europe the season is long – at least from March to October. I usually make trips of one or a couple of days and mostly in France as there are so many nice places to visit and see here.

Frédéric Malpièce

The writer of the blog is a Technical Expert and Technical Support Manager for surge arrester product range working at Ensto’s Product Development in Bagnéres de Bigorre, France.