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Getting the right service manuals

What is the difference between a troubleshooting manual and a field service engineer manual? Does it matter? In this article, we explain why it does
Photograph of two men looking through manuals for the medical equipment they seem to be in the store room with medical equipment supplies on either side of them and a small table between them with unidentifiable objects

One of the most important things to include with a donation of medical equipment is the manual – in a language that is understood by local staff. The more information you can provide on safe use and maintenance of the equipment, the better.

What is the difference between a troubleshooting manual and a field service engineer manual? Does it matter?

Complex equipment will often have two different manuals:

  • A troubleshooting manual: These guides generally contain basic instructions for use and how to solve common problems. The manufacturer will generally provide this to all users.

  • A full or field service engineer (FSE) manual: These manuals will typically include parts listings, detailed troubleshooting, and preventative maintenance procedures.

You should always ask which types of service manuals are supplied with the equipment.

Some manufacturers will not be willing to provide FSE manuals to technical staff in the healthcare facility unless they are qualified engineers who have been trained and certified directly by the manufacturer.

Even if you can only get a basic troubleshooting service manual – you should also ask for a parts list.

Companies are often willing to provide the manuals and train technical staff in low-resource settings with lower formal qualifications – particularly if they can provide the training themselves.

The most important things to consider is that the manual is appropriate for the people who will be using it. Ask yourself:

  • Are the maintenance staff at the local facility trained in the procedures contained in the manual?
  • Are the instructions and manuals written in a language that the people using them can understand?

Where to get service manuals

There are many places where you can access a copy of the service manuals:

  • Primarily, the manufacturer or supplier – user manuals are often freely available to download on the manufacturer’s website, along with some basic troubleshooting materials.
  • Your local hospital (e.g. NHS trust) biomedical engineering department
  • The website Frank’s Hospital Workshop has some service manuals to download, as well as a huge amount of information about different medical equipment
© St George’s, University of London
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Medical Equipment Donations to Low Resource Settings

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