Meet the Team Darren

Darren Harper has been one of our Technical Sales Engineers for Polytec UK for two years. As a Technical Sales Engineer, Darren specialises in the sales of Laser Vibrometers and surface profilers, covering the eastern part of the UK—from the northern reaches of Scotland down to the tip of Kent. His role combines technical advice and customer service, from fielding inquiries to technical help to detailed quotations and sales. Darren says: "One day is never the same as the next".

Why engineering?

Darren has always been interested in engineering. "I've always been interested in engineering throughout my education, I knew that I wanted to be an engineer, I had interest in everything that moves. And I had a deep passion for motorsport and the engineering aspect of which got me into cars and motorbikes at an early age."

After leaving school, Darren worked his way up from apprentice to Estimating Engineer. This is where he first started working directly with customers and found that he really enjoyed it. From there, he moved to an engineering firm that manufactured and sold products such as shock absorbers, gas springs, and vibration isolation products to the railway and aerospace industries. Darren said, "That was my introduction into the world of vibration."

Why Polytec?

Darren enjoys variety and challenge, and after delivering 17 years of year-on-year growth, it was time to move on. Darren has always been drawn to the more unique, less-trodden paths in his professional journey. His transition to Polytec was motivated by the company's reputation for its niche, leading-edge vibrometers and diverse markets and applications.

"It is important to remember that every customer is an individual. One day will be speaking to a University Professor, and the next, a senior Director of an industrial businesses. There's a huge difference between their needs and how they talk, and I've learned to understand what they need and what's important to them?"

Solving problems for customers

Darren loves solving complex problems with Polytec's innovative solutions. "The varied applications of our products—from tiny insects to large buildings—make every case a unique challenge to enjoy," he says.

There are all sorts of applications for non-contact vibration monitoring, from the micro to the massive: "The types of applications that we can help with range from as tiny as insects and small electrical devices up to buildings and structures."

Darren highlighted two very different applications to demonstrate the variety of Polytec's customers.

There are various national heritage applications. Delicate historic buildings and artefacts need to be monitored. For example, some of the ornate plaster ceilings that can be found in stately homes across the UK. Many are now open to the public, and the ceilings are under far more pressure than they were designed for, with hundreds of people per week walking on the floor above them. Polytec's vibrometers can be used to measure the vibration levels when excited so that conservationists can spot problems before they become an issue. And they can do this safely without having to work at height or have any physical contact with the delicate plasterwork.

Another very different application is engine valves in high-performance motorsports cars. Vibrometers are used to ensure that valves in sports engines seat perfectly every time, given that these valves open and close thousands of times per minute. Even the slightest imperfection in seating can lead to significant performance losses, which can make all the difference in a race. The vibrometer measures how the valve seats at the microscopic level, capturing the minute bounce and stretch that occurs as it makes contact with the sealing surface. This precise measurement is crucial for optimising engine performance, as it allows engineers to make adjustments that ensure the valve seals completely, preventing any loss of gas, which is vital for efficient combustion. "This is where I get a lot of enjoyment from. Helping to optimise a product to a degree that would be impossible without Vibrometry".

Outside of work

Darren still maintains his interest in cars and motorsports, which got him interested in engineering in the first place. He owns a special edition of the  Mk1 Audi TT, one of only 800 made, which he enjoys restoring and showcasing at car events across the UK.

He also avidly follows Formula 1, Endurance Race series' and the British Touring Car Championship.