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THE SHOW MUST GO ON! The Importance of Quality Servicing & Maintenance

may 18 13THE SHOW MUST GO ON! The Importance of Quality Servicing & Maintenance

Anyone who has ever had responsibility for ‘keeping the show on the road’ in any type of factory or processing facility understands the necessity of keeping all the production equipment working at optimal pace. (Read More)

Service and maintenance are fundamental to that, providing a far greater chance of the plant running smoothly between maintenance visits.  

Never has that been truer than in the case of process heating systems.  Certainly with Steam Generators and Steam Boilers, regular attention is required.  Even in the case of thermal fluid heating systems, which are considered by far the easiest to run and maintain, regular servicing pays dividends.

Manufacturer or Service Company to the Rescue?

You might think that the logical option when looking for a service and maintenance provider is to opt for a dedicated service company as that’s all they do.  A manufacturer, on the other hand, has its primary business making and selling machinery and servicing is an added extra.  

However, can you really expect a service company to know every piece of machinery in depth?  To service and maintain process heating systems, it’s essential the service supplier has an extensive knowledge and experience of that specific machine model and the back up to support it.  Service companies by their very nature have to work on a variety of different manufacturer’s products, whereas the manufacturer designed it, built it and have serviced the same models over many years; their wealth of knowledge is second to none when it comes to that piece of kit.

What Constitutes Quality Servicing?

The key factors at the heart of good servicing surely have to be reliability and support; supporting the product and giving the customer a solution to the problem at hand.  
Babcock Wanson always provides customers with detailed equipment instruction manuals, but let’s not forget that process heating systems are a lot more complex than your average consumer item and the manuals reflect this; they too are large and complex.  We find customers often prefer to ask us about an issue directly and receive a response either with the information they need or an action to be taken, and we’re always happy to help.  That level of support should also extend to associated equipment and the overall process.  

Some service companies offer an “out of hours” service, but the reality of such a service is that the person on call will most likely only re set the machine, leaving any repair works to the following day.  A far better alternative is to empower onsite staff to solve basic problems by ensuring they are trained and competent and have relevant spare parts on site.  The level of that customer training should therefore be considered a factor when selecting a company to perform your servicing.  

Lastly, consider access to spares when making your decision.  Service companies will struggle here as they cannot possibly keep spares for all the machines they service and their knowledge will be minimal for all but the most common parts.  A manufacturer will be better placed for this.  

What should be included in a Service Contract?

Flexibility is important here.  All manufacturing plants are different and the service contract you choose should reflect that, rather than being an off-the-shelf type contract.  

Generally a rolling one year contract is the norm, which features one major visit to investigate all aspects of key maintenance tasks.  Most customers also choose to have at least one other interim service visit per year, with a visit every quarter being the most common.  Customers understand the greater likelihood of any potential problems or future failings being identified and addressed during that minor maintenance visit.  Unlimited telephone support should be offered as standard.

The agreement itself can be inclusive i.e. covering parts and labour, and can also include spares holding.

We are finding that many customers are now opting for extended warranties on equipment as part of the service contract.  It’s convenient for the customer as they pay a single annual fee so can budget for it accordingly and don’t have the hassle of raising purchase orders and all the admin that surrounds that.  

Of course, you don’t have to have a service contract at all.  You could simply have a service company that you call in when needed but be warned: it’s likely to cost you more and take longer.

Babcock Wanson offers a complete range of products and services for boiler houses and other process heating needs.  
020 89537111
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www.babcock-wanson.co.uk