How to avoid a false economy

Wayne Hunter, service and operations manager, Emmegi (UK), explains how using third-party service agents can end up costing you more.

When budgets are tight, it’s understandable to want to reduce costs and save money. But saving money by turning to unauthorised third-party service agents, rather than sticking with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), can actually end up costing fabricators more, and here’s why.

Firstly, only the OEM will have access to technical data, systems, drawings and guaranteed original spare parts for every single machine in their range.

Secondly, only the OEM will have access to the latest software and safe system updates, which are essential to the efficient running of any machine. These are identified and provided during routine maintenance and repairs, but won’t be available to any third party.

And thirdly, only the OEM will have a team who can guarantee that all works will be carried out to their pre-defined standards.

It’s not a question of OEMs deliberately excluding third party repairers to gain some kind of commercial advantage. I think customers will appreciate that the only way we can warranty our machines and our components is if we know that they have only been worked on by technicians trained by us.

Beyond that though, there are risks and potential pitfalls associated with using a third party which many fabricators might not even have considered.

The biggest risk comes from a health and safety perspective. If an accident were to happen involving any piece of equipment and machinery, the HSE will want to see the training records not just of the users of the machine, but also of anyone who has carried out any maintenance or repair. The onus will be on the manufacturer to show that the equipment was being operated and maintained in accordance with the OEM’s recommended periods and processes and also by persons with the relevant skills and training.

If you are tempted to use a third-party service agent, you will need to ask them to provide the necessary evidence before they start work.

And, when it comes to costs, it is important to look beyond the hourly charge. If a third-party repairer can’t complete the work quickly or they don’t follow the correct procedures, then the actual costs can be much higher than you expected. If they have to wait for a part for example, then the downtime costs for the machine will almost invariably outweigh any saving you might have made. Like so much in life, if it looks too good to be true, then it almost invariably will be.

Emmegi has a team of highly trained engineers operating across the country and a warehouse in Coventry fully stocked with spares, so we will always be able to dispatch one of our team to carry out repairs quickly and efficiently. We can also schedule in routine maintenance at times to suit customers. Added to that, if demand surges for any particular reason, we can even draft in engineers from Italy to keep our response levels high.

We do our best to keep our servicing costs down and our quality and response levels up. Fundamentally, what we want is strong and positive relationships with our customers, and the key to that is providing an outstanding service which means our customers simply don’t want to go anywhere else.