A few days on from 30.BI-MU, the historic event dedicated to tool machines, robots, machines, automation and auxiliary technologies, I would like to address a topic that is very close to my heart, a tricky issue that we’ve encountered at MICROingranaggi but which is fairly common even among colleagues of our industry and beyond.
I have the feeling that the sector for the sale of machine tools has a form of organization from a technical support perspective which could be more efficient and my impression is that there is not enough awareness surrounding this issue.
I think it’s important to state this because the turn that the market is taking today is producing some fairly significant consequences on which sellers of machine tools should – in my opinion – reflect a great deal.
Before going any further and to explain exactly what I mean, I would like to clarify a point: I know for a fact that there are a number of machine tool companies (the names of which I will not reveal) which offer a very efficient service and, as such, the issues I am addressing in this post cannot and should not be generalized.
Returning to the discussion of the technical service, the most common situation that occurs is as follows.
A manufacturer, for example, of mechanical components invests in a tool machine that is specific to a certain type of processing and thus to be able to accept a specific order. Very probably this manufacturer
will find themselves having to deal with a customer who simply cannot afford to stop their production line and must therefore at all costs receive the goods on time. Not only that: most of the time that same customer will ask the manufacturer to sign a contract containing pecuniary penalties for each day of delay in delivery. This means that if the manufacturer stops one of the machines, they must necessarily start it again in the shortest possible time (within a few days or even a few hours, depending on the problem). They will, however, find this difficult to do if technical support won’t assist or if the same works inefficiently.
And unfortunately this often happens due to internal bureaucracy, the complexity of communication procedures with the support service, the lack of skilled technical personnel and so on. The problem however remains: if the person who sells us a tool machine is not able to provide timely technical support, this can create very difficult situations for us.
The message I want to convey is therefore this:
It is true that machine tool manufacturers want to offer us competitive machines with good performance and commensurate prices but it is also true that if whoever buys them realizes the hard way that the technical support service doesn’t work, it is highly probable that next time they will be using a different seller.
The mechanical sector has changed, the market has changed and we as producers have no more room to move. For this reason we are calling on tool machine manufacturers to improve the technical support level, perhaps even with maintenance contracts with a fixed monthly fee for support with an actual emergency intervention regardless of whether the service is used or not.
So is this then an additional cost? Of course. But it is equally certain that – in view of the direction that the market is taking today (now almost all the orders we receive include penalties for late deliveries) – many manufacturers would be willing to assess this. Us first and foremost.
And I would add one last thing. It often happens that we as manufacturers find ourselves forced to evaluate very seriously whether to accept a job precisely because of the heavy penalties that we would have to pay in the event of delivery delays due to machine downtime issues not being promptly resolved. The fact is though that if we as producers turn down a contract (or several orders) then we probably won’t even be investing in technologies and consequently in tool machines. And I think this is a matter that requires great reflection…