There are many benefits to using independent service contractors and some drawbacks as well. The key is to find a quality service contracting company with a great reputation and 1-3 service people. By getting the same people you, this allows you the opportunity to receive the same service quality and knowledge every time. Another important step in finding a good service contractor is to check references from other companies that use them. If you can find these qualities and find out there specialties you will find yourself with more options when your machine goes down and save downtime and money along the way. Again the main thing you need to find is someone that is good at what they do and want to keep you as a customer and you will come out way ahead.
What are the advantages of using an independent contractor?
- Same person every time
- Same quality of service
- Dependability or more options for quicker service.
- More local resources for parts
- Less costly for replacement parts from alternate vendors. Often 1/3 of the OEM's cost.
- Less downtime if you find a quality contractor.
- Alternate vendors for items that have long lead times from japan or somewhere else
- Quality phone support and usually free for current customers.
- Service rates are usually less, you will generally get what you pay for so do not look specifically at hourly rates. Think about it this way. If you are willing to pay a machine tool dealer or builder $125/hr or more for someone that may or may not have a clue and spends half the day on the phone then you are saving money.
- Incase either service company is backed up with service calls you have at least two people available to get your machine up and running as quickly as possible.
- Flexible start and finish times without the overtime rates.
- Many good service contractors will credit you hours if they feel it took them to long or they had a learning curve on your machine without you even asking them to. Again it comes down to quality of service.
What are the disadvantages of using an independents machinery service company?
- Some parts are not covered under warranty if installed by anyone but the builder or dealer. Example-spindle.
- Some independent if they are not very good at what they do or are hard up for cash may drag a job out. But these contractors will usually not be in business very long either. Since keeping customers happy with your service is key.
- They may not have proprietary procedures only used by that machine builder. Many times you can still get them fairly easy.
- If you do not have electrical or ladder diagrams for your machine they may not be able to bring them for troubleshooting. Where as the dealer will usually have them.
- Service contractors may not be familiar with the manuals on where to find information.
- Beware of to much product pushing.
- They may not want to buy the parts and bill you for them. This is not a bad thing, but they do not want to have to wait to get paid from your company. If they agree they will have to mark up the parts to cover this extra cost and hassles associated with ordering, returning and dealing with warranties if the part fails. It is generally easier for the customer to take care of this. If the warranty is under a company name that does not own the machine it is hard for the Vendor to come in to see why the part failed if they wanted to. Many companies also require serial numbers of machines before ordering parts and can tell which company the machine is supposed to be at.
Note: One important thing to remember is that when it comes to mechanical and the electrical side of machine tools they are all relatively the same. Troubleshooting mechanical or electrical problems is almost the same. Machines all have PLC Inputs and outputs, drives, ballscrews, spindles, toolchangers etc.. The only thing that makes them different is what and how the inputs are used to control the machine functions. The hardest part of a service contractors job is often trying to learn how to get around the proprietary screens that some of the builders like to place over the top of a fanuc or mitsubishi controls. As well as not being familiar with the builders manuals to find the information as quickly.