I’ve recently spent a lot of time managing a client’s production equipment installations in a new facility. Here are three lessons that I’ve learned working with technicians from a variety of manufacturers:
1. MAKE THE MANUFACTURER DEFINE THE ENTIRE SCOPE OF THEIR TECHNICIAN’S WORK
We decided to integrate printers into an existing production line to reduce labor. When the printer installation team arrived, they informed us they could not drill into our equipment due to liability risk. This is quite common for companies who do a lot of system integrations, but we weren’t told ahead of time that this was part of our responsibility. Luckily for us, a technician who worked for the production equipment manufacturer happened to be on-site to help us. When you are dealing with the sales team, understand that they are not as concerned with the installation as you are, and it is your responsibility to ask the right questions. Having said that, the sales team should be notified if you feel you were misled and not satisfied with the level of communication from them.
2. PURCHASE MORE TRAINING TIME THAN SUGGESTED
When you buy new equipment, most technicians will tell you, “This is easy to learn” or “this is a simple system.” But any new piece of production equipment has a considerable learning curve, especially with an inexperienced operator. An extra couple of days of training may cost you upwards of $3,000, but if that saves you one emergency visit from the technician in the future, it’s worth it. Getting your own employees to understand and absorb as much as they can while the technician is on-site is important to reducing future down-time & costs. So give your operator the day off from their usual responsibilities and let them dedicate 100% of their time to learning.
3. GET THE BEST TECHNICIAN
When you work with dozens of technicians, you start to see the wide range of experience levels among them. Vendors generally offer the same rate for the 20-year veteran as they do for the new hire. Don’t hesitate to insist on an experienced technician. The vendor wants to give you the best they have, but often are hamstrung by scheduling and have no choice. My suggestion: make it clear that you’d prefer to wait a week and get their most experienced tech. These people have a passion for the equipment, will be honest with you and aren’t just there to sell you more add ons!