Machine builders are looking for you to help them automate functions and make machines easier to use and maintain. They also are looking for more power while using less energy, modular designs to conserve space, and versatile components to increase flexibility, and reduce inventory.
Most importantly, they are looking to you for end-to-end solutions through a machine’s full lifecycle. That’s why the quality of your machine lifecycle support is increasingly critical. Machine lifecycle support has evolved to include training, managing inventory, and access to parts. This support benefits your customers in many ways — from assuring uptime and saving labor and maintenance costs, to increasing productivity and overall profitability.
Machine lifecycle support is a great opportunity to develop mutually beneficial relationships. You have opportunities for ongoing and additional revenue, and the customer has paths for realizing the full potential of their machine investments.
Support model begins with pre-sale
An integrated machine lifecycle and operational support model is mostly split between your pre- and post-sales. The pre-sales is your project execution, from the concept/design phase through commissioning. Post-sales includes technical support and services.
Essential components of your machine lifecycle support should include:
- Concept and design: Application engineer assistance for proof of concept, project software design, software training, and automation architecture development
- Operation and deployment: Local field engineer collaboration with your stakeholders — customers, channel partners, and local system integrators — for assistance with software operational testing, and provide software commissioning support during prototype machine deployment
- Maintenance and repair: Field services and technical support for post-sales services of the machines, such as remote monitoring, on-site repairs, and preventive maintenance
Technical support is about more than service agreements
As you build more automation and motion control into machines, and rely on more real-time data, your service agreements take on increasing importance from a technical support perspective. Service agreements should account for the scope of resources available for response and provide a process for technical support. A higher level of support might include remote monitoring, quicker response from field technicians, or access to research and development (R&D) via internal tech support for debugging.
Technical support should include:
- Product documents and software guides
- Installation guides, user and troubleshooting guides
- FAQs, how-to documents, video tutorials
- CAD, drawings, curves
- Direct access via an online portal to technical documentation; industry and product information; and digital tools, such as training for products, safety, and codes
- Exchange programs and platforms that can provide you with software and tools, as well as connections to peers and experts
Services should cover end-to-end machine building needs
Like many machine builders, you are likely facing increasingly stringent demands from end users on productivity, safety, equipment availability, and performance optimization. Therefore, your optimal services need to cover end-to-end needs for machine builders and their end users, including:
- Application design engineers finding the right solutions while accounting for safety and cybersecurity
- Field service engineers delivering tailored services, including automation training, augmented reality (AR) maintenance, and secure remote maintenance
- Repair services
- Software that collects data for predictive analytics
- Spare kits and the ability to manage spare parts inventory, on site or off site
Grow your revenue opportunities by reselling support agreements
Your customers need to be able to respond to the end users as quickly as possible. The focus on machine support should be on the end users; they are the ones getting value from the investment in the machine.
The right machine building partner will help you grow revenue after the sale. There are now suites of products in a single platform that are specifically designed to enable machine builders and manufacturers to monitor machines and sell after-market services and support to end users. These include:
- A machine-based product allows you to create the optimum framework conditions for operation by offering functionalities for:
- Localizing and tracking machines, assigning for documentation, machine history, and machine task management
- Monitoring machine performance with individual dashboards, predicting machine maintenance, and sending notification in case of need
- Troubleshooting and fixing the machines with cloud-based software tools
- A secure connection-based product allows you to remotely access, program, and monitor machines
- Technicians and programmers can remotely access the partner software and securely update it via the HMI, PLC, and other connected devices
- Troubleshooting and repair can be performed remotely upon request
- An operator-based product provides real-time information and visual context to the operator, making it easier to fix any problem
- The custom application can superimpose data and virtual objects onto a cabinet or machine, which helps to improve response, and reduce downtime and repair impact
Transform your customer experience with the right machine lifecycle support partner
The right partner will not only provide you tangible benefits throughout the machine lifecycle, they will also provide the best possible customer experience and peace of mind. The right partner will be responsive to design, implementation, and service, but they also will be able to show you what is available as they develop technological advances. They will keep you engaged in the continuous process of research and development and how it impacts your machine lifecycles.
Learn how the right partner can help you improve your approach to machine lifecycle support.
Sponsored content by Schneider Electric
Filed Under: Schneider Electric Sponsored Content