With much of the attention focused on developing high-performance, price competitive packaging machines, what are machinery OEMs doing to lower the maintenance and operating costs of their equipment after the sale? This is the first in a new series of interviews with OEM general managers on striving for lowest total cost of ownership for their customers. For this first interview, I spoke with Ernie Newell, vice president and general manager of Ossid, a division of Pro Mach.
Steve: Every packaging machine contains components manufactured by outside suppliers. Is there a type of components suppliers you look for in terms of partnerships?
Ernie: One of the things we look for is a wide product portfolio. This means we can take a number of components and know that they have been designed to work together. This approach lowers our engineering costs and also our customers’ long term costs. Another thing we look for in our top components suppliers is the ability to support us in the field.
Steve: Sometimes your suppliers may be out in the field with your service personnel?
Ernie: We want the best and fastest possible solution for any problems and occasionally that means bringing our partners into a field service situation. The end users, our customers, appreciate that when they have an issue, we bring in the necessary expertise, whether on occasion it is both our service personnel and a partners technician. It’s not all the time, but it is another resource available to us. Those are the partners we want to have.
Steve: Do component suppliers provide engineering assistance during the design phase of a new machine?
Ernie: We like to do business with suppliers who can sit down with us during the engineering/design phase of a new machine. We discuss product specifications, and we ask our suppliers to give us component options that compete in price and perform to long-term operating goals. We want our top suppliers to provide world-class engineering expertise.
Steve: We were speaking before this interview about the speed of change in the electronics industry and component obsolescence.
Ernie: It’s far more expensive to replace an obsolete part than one that is still current. Our key suppliers work with us to identify components they expect to remain current for an extended amount of time and to steer us away from others with shorter life cycles. Sometimes that means we specify a slightly more expensive component, but in the long run it is the smart purchase in terms of lowest total cost of ownership for our customers. We work with suppliers on component migration strategies, which puts a plan in place to cost effectively upgrade machines before components become obsolete. In effect, the base machine stays current and maintenance and operating costs are kept to a minimum.
In Part 2 of this interview, Ernie will talk about additional proactive approaches to lowering maintenance and operating costs…