If it seems like your customers are turning to you more frequently to solve their challenges, you are not alone. They need new solutions to help mitigate labor issues and improve efficiency and quality. As a machine builder, it’s up to you to develop more complex machines and automation systems that can help end users scale operations faster.
Your customers’ wish lists may include:
- Up-to-date, comprehensive hardware and software offerings
- High quality of work
- Faster time to market
- Lower cost of ownership
- Extensive service capabilities and experience
- Ease of integration with ability to customize functionalities
In addition to more advanced machine-building prowess, your customers are likely looking for a partner who can help them offer more value to their end users. As you know, investing in a machine is more than a simple transaction; it’s a relationship based on culture and people. You can be the trusted, experienced partner your customers need to listen and work alongside them — from machine design to proof of concept to commissioning and long-term service and maintenance.
A solutions partner is your competitive edge
Machine end users typically have a five- to seven-year life cycle for their systems. They often work within narrow specifications, run lean operations, and don’t invest in new equipment unless they’re forced to make a change. But end users are becoming more proactive about adopting newer technologies. This means your cycle has to be much faster to offer the latest in technology advances — as little as one to two years.
If your multiple product lines don’t have the machine solutions to deliver this value, you need a solutions partner who can help differentiate you from the competition.
A trusted, solutions partner can help you address challenges such as:
- Your machine sales are lagging behind your competitors’
- A competitor has reverse-engineered your technology and is undercutting your price with a lower performing machine
- You are thinking about designing an entry-level machine
- Your machine is not as fast as it could be or costs more than what end users want to pay
The right solutions provider can provide R&D services
Machine builders have varying capacity to innovate; you may not have the resources and expertise to integrate the latest advanced technologies into your machines. It’s a lot to keep up with, from augmented reality (AR) to high performance robotics. The right solutions provider can serve as your research and development (R&D) team and as your business development resource.
Leading machine solution providers are willing to work side by side with you to:
- Review your lineup so you can keep up with advances in your sector
- Co-develop a custom software solution
- Prototype a concept to see if you should design a new system versus evolve the current system
Do you want to do more with a machine? Does your current provider have software application templates or embedded libraries with advanced functions, so you are not starting from scratch when you design a machine?
Touchpoints with your provider may include distributors, application design engineers, field engineers, product application engineers, and technicians. The scope of those resources should be an important consideration when selecting a solutions partner. That partner can help you from concept and design, to architecture review, proof of concept, application software training, code conversion, execution, and the post-sales phase with services and product technical support.
Your partner can help differentiate your machines
A qualified solutions provider will have application design engineers on staff who can be co-developers of your machine design and life cycle. They can also be peers to your engineers to help speed development, and they can help bring machines to market faster. You can lean on them for their expertise in industry segments and product capabilities.
Ideally, your provider’s field engineers should have many face-to-face visits with you and your engineering team, addressing problems, looking at growth opportunities, and more. It shouldn’t take a machine outage to get your provider’s attention. Your provider’s engineers should be actively engaging with you to help you find new machine solutions to grow your business.
The true value of your partnership with your solution provider’s engineers often emerges during consultative problem solving. For example, you may be looking to solve a particularly vexing quality issue. Your trusted partner can suggest a solution that not only fixes the problem, but also saves time or increases throughput.
Examples of a trusted relationship might include:
- Workforce empowerment: Training to show how an add-on to a machine allows predictive maintenance, fast device replacement, or remote monitoring
- Remote simulation: Testing prior to commissioning and debugging assistance onsite
- Code conversion: A detailed sequence of operations leads to development of code and eventual training on software platforms
- R&D: Experience in your particular segment elevates the co-engineering and rapid development aspects of your machines
You may also want to look for a provider that is actively enhancing your skill sets and adding new tools.
Machine-building support comes in many forms
Partner support should begin with the foundational service agreement that sets parameters for onsite repairs and troubleshooting. Does the provider have a network of geographically-based technicians, and can they service your machines around the world? Do they offer an OEM portal like this one with product documentation and online tools such as training, webinars, tutorials, and videos?
Machine-building support can mean many different things, including remote monitoring services to preventive and predictive maintenance. The benefits of a trusted relationship may also include ad hoc situations. For example, how would your end user feel if they had a longtime coder who suddenly left, and they did not have anyone capable of working on their code-intensive setup. They would likely prefer to work with a leading coding provider who could review and optimize their system to make it easier to use without ongoing assistance.
People and culture are keys to a successful machine-building partnership
The right machine-building partner can provide you with the leading hardware, software solutions, and support services. But they should also want to work alongside you through the entire machine life cycle. People and culture are big differentiators to provide you the best possible customer experience and peace of mind. The right partner focuses on your success – your challenges are their challenges.
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