|Understanding and Benefiting from Service Agreements|
|by Christopher Kleck, President, Pro Plastics Sales & Service, Inc.|
|Strategies Spring 2007|
Ask any engineer to discuss the process of selecting equipment for purchase and he will point to vendor quotations, on-site testimonials, and spreadsheets with important data regarding cycle times and through-puts. It seems that the attention to capital purchase is paramount. However, attention to what happens after the sale often is only an after-thought.
Finding out months (or years) later that the supplier chosen at the time of purchase no longer carries that particular equipment line, or has never serviced it before is hardly efficient. One of the areas to understand when beginning the exploration and quotation process should be service, support, and training.
Evaluating Vendors Based on Service
Before assuming that vendors have experience when it comes to service, ask the following questions:
Evaluating Support and Training
Tech Support Line – When equipment has problems, is access provided to a service technician who can troubleshoot over the phone? This also can save time in the event of a service call, since the vendor will have the tools and skills to make the repairs when he arrives, rather than diagnosing the problem on site.
Error Recovery – Providing an alternative to keep your operation up-and-running while resolving an error is important. When a robot begins to drop parts or an injection molding machine’s cavity shows errors, is there an intermediate plan in place until service arrives?
Preventative Maintenance Program – Maintenance is either handled by in-house staff or by an outside firm. Review a list of scheduled preventative maintenance tasks with the outside firm, or determine if routine maintenance tasks really can be handled in-house effectively. Clarify these issues:
Preventative maintenance programs should be comprehensive and include the following:
Before signing on the dotted line, the specifics regarding services and execution should be well understood, including the difference between emergency service and standard service agreements.
Beyond basic maintenance, several factors exist which also should be considered. In addition, a service provider should be quick to provide a list of parts to keep on-site, and should have a well-stocked parts department to help the customer avoid delays in a return to productivity. A vendor also should be able to assist its customers as technology changes, or as the customer takes on additional technology or expands – in both implementing the technology and training.
Training is the key to efficiency. Training is the first line of defense in preventing errors, material waste, and downtime. Vendors that train their customers have invested in classroom equipment, training equipment, and time, representing a commitment for the long-term.
The days of thinking of equipment purchases without consideration for service, support, and training are gone. Partnering with suppliers will prove cost effective in both the short term (production downtime) and long-term (future growth).
Christopher Kleck is president of Pro Plastics Sales & Service, Inc. Pro Plastics has been supplying the plastics industry with state-of-the-art injection molding presses, extrusion equipment, and blow molding equipment since 1981. In addition to primary and auxiliary equipment for plastics processing, Pro Plastics offers complete engineering design, warranty and non-warranty service, training, and installation of all of its equipment. The company also provides complete service on competitive equipment. Pro Plastics takes pride in presenting its long-term customer relationships as references to prospective buyers. Contact Pro Plastics at (800) 589-7767 or www.proplasticsusa.com.