Steve Sterling, Contributor

Spare Parts Availability Top-Rated OEM Attribute – Who’d Have Thunk It?

By Steve Sterling, Contributor | Permanent Link

It floored me today to read in the PMMI 2009 Customer Attitudes & Behaviors survey that the number one attribute customers look for in an OEM, in addition to the packaging machine, is spare parts availability.

How un-sexy is that? It’s enough to make the sales and product development teams pull their hair out.

When you stop to think about it, however, having spare parts availability as the number one attribute that customers’ value in an OEM makes sense. Only those OEMs with a commitment to the long term success of their customers are going to invest in a robust spare parts program. Those OEMs know that their machines are going to be on the packaging line for five, 10, 20, or 30 years and along with the machine, it’s their reputation that’s on that line. This long-term view may make the price of the machine go up slightly and reduce OEM profits somewhat, but OEMs who know that reputation is the key to success, will commit to a robust support strategy. And it’s not only the spare parts that are important, but also the infrastructure to get those parts delivered quickly. The survey found that North American OEMs had the highest rating for spare parts availability.

Here are some of the other OEM attributes that the 2009 PMMI survey found were top rated. Each one relates in some way to a supplier committed to long-term success, not quarter-by-quarter sales revenue.

  • Problem solving-engineering expertise. (This means hiring and retaining the best people)
  • Knowledge about materials and machinery fit. (This relates to long years of working at many different customer sites to solve customer-specific problems)
  • Overall reputation of a manufacturer. (This is all about doing right by the customer year-after-year and having great products)
  • Training and documentation capabilities. (This relates to making the customer successful and earning the right to sell another machine to that that customer)
  • After-sales market support. (Once again it’s the long view and knowing that to avoid extinction the OEM must invest in the infrastructure for customer success)

The whole emphasis on spare parts availability is really about wanting to work with an OEM who is going to do what it takes to be around for the next several generations.

Here’s the question: Are spare parts the single most important attribute you look for in the packaging machinery OEM? Vote yes or no. I welcome your comments.

Are spare parts the single most important attribute you look for in a packaging machinery OEM?

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