Responsiveness Can’t Be Left Up To Chance

By Ray Neel, Roberts PolyPro | Permanent Link


With today’s lean operations and even leaner budgets for preventive maintenance, machines begin to experience performance issues over time. Line and maintenance personnel, who may or may not have been factory trained, typically respond to these problems by making adjustments and/or swapping out parts. Then comes the day when a problem becomes catastrophic and all the customer can do is rush to telephone the machine’s supplier.

At this point, responsiveness on the part of the supplier becomes essential. Under intense pressure for a resolution, the last thing the customer needs is an extensive phone tree, a voice mail for a person out for the day, or a service representative on other end of the phone who does not share their sense of urgency.

Putting systems in place to respond to urgent customer calls cannot be an afterthought on the part of the supplier. The supplier must design a response system that can be measured for effectiveness and continuously improved. Support personnel must be trained and then evaluated on how well they perform to expectations. Above all, the response system must reassure the customer that the supplier understands the problem and will work quickly to solve it. Solutions include same day or next day parts delivery or sending a field technician who is familiar with the plant. Effective response systems require the backing of the supplier’s senior management because responsiveness ultimately relies on sufficient resources, and senior management must allocate and support those resources.

In a perfect world, every customer large and small would devote themselves to thorough preventive maintenance programs and on going training. But this isn’t a perfect world. It is up to suppliers to cultivate a culture that ensures that machine uptime is a priority for every customer and every location where the machine is installed.

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