Please could you give our readers a brief introduction to ServiceGuard?
ServiceGuard is the name of the structure and “umbrella concept”, covering all Struers “service” offerings to customers in the Materialographic industry, using Struers equipment or consumables.
The ServiceGuard is the global concept that harmonizes the service offerings and deliveries in Struers local organizations around the world.
Why did Struers create ServiceGuard?
In Struers it is realized that our customers depend not only on high quality equipment and consumables, but are equally dependent on the service and support assistance they need, in order to have reliable “production” at a consistent quality level.
The mission of the Service department has for many years been formulated as “To support the customer's success, by offering assistance, securing that their Struers equipment remains reliable and functional in accordance with specifications".
However, our customer range is extremely large, stretching from universities to electronic manufacturers, automotive and airplane industries to steelworks and foundries, and before the ServiceGuard concept was introduced, it was evident, that we had little proof of how well our “service” offerings met the needs of our various customers. Especially the value of our service agreements were internally questioned.
The ServiceGuard project was therefore initiated to make sure that we had a service product portfolio which was wide and flexible enough to meet our different customer's needs, but at the same time structured and well defined enough to frame a consistent high quality in the delivery process and execution.
What options do you offer your customers?
The ServiceGuard concept consist of four layers:
Struers Support commitment – which includes all the support services that our customers get access to, just by being a Struers customer – that means, the worldwide network of skilled Struers Service engineers, the immediate availability of genuine Struers spare parts, the global hotline service support, the online equipment documentation, etc.
The second layer is all the Single Services that we offer, e.g. equipment Installation, training, preventive maintenance, emergency repair service onsite or in Struers local workshops, spare and wearparts, etc.
The third layer is pur Service Packages, which are a number of single services bundled into relevant packages such as a “Start up package” including installation, product training, maintenance training and basic application training, or a “Optimization Package” including a thorough equipment status evaluation and an application assessment securing the optimal efficiency in the use of the equipment.
The top layer is the “Service PLANS” which are basically agreements valid for one or more years, and are aimed at securing the optimal equipment availability and preparation quality consistency.
There are 3 PLAN types in the ServiceGuard concept.
PREVENT PLAN consists of a periodical preventive maintenance visits, where the basic wearparts are replaced, and the equipment is controlled and adjusted. The period between the visits is based on Struers experience with the particular customer's operation pattern, and is usually 1 visit pr year or per 1500h operation time (equal to 1 shift pr day in a year).
That means the customer will receive one to several visits per year, depending on how much they use the equipment.
PROTECT PLAN is one of the new types of plans, and consists of the scope from the PREVENT PLAN, but also ensures that STRUERS service organization will be onsite with a skilled technician and parts within 48 hours, or provide a loaner equipment. The cost of the additional repair visits, including parts, travel and loaner equipment, is covered by the PROTECT plan, so you can in fact compare the PROTECT PLAN with an insurance or extended warranty.
Finally the PERFORM PLAN is the ultimate cooperation agreement, tailor made for the particular customer, and can include equipment availability guarantee, consumable supply, etc. Ultimately Struers can take over the total responsibility, so the customer only pays per sample he produces on the equipment.
The customers can choose any of the above products that suit their requirements the best.
What are the major advantages of using ServiceGuard?
During the initial stage of the ServiceGuard concept developing project, we visited a large amount of customer's worldwide, and asked them about their perception of service value.
Our expectation was that our customers in large manufacturing companies, would primarily be interested in uptime, but for the remaining customer types we were uncertain of their priorities.
From our interviews with customers, it became evident, that the major objective for almost all the users of our equipment is to be able to deliver the sample preparations or final analysis results in accordance with the overall “production schedule” in their organizations.
The “production schedule” can be the production plan in manufacturing customers, the project plan in R&D companies, the teaching plan in universities, etc.
For our customers that meant that three points should be prioritized in our service offerings:
- Optimal up-time
- Fast response time – availability of support assistance, fast diagnosis and fast information update, so the customers know which mitigating activities to initiate, if a machine is out of operation
- Predictable preparation quality. The customers need a certain preparation quality level in order to get a consistent analysis result quality.
Based on the above, our complete ServiceGuard offering is aimed at supporting the users in achieving:
- The optimal uptime through preventive maintenance service offerings or even uptime guarantee
- Fast response time and consistent status information, so the customers can take the right decisions in their breakdown mitigation process
- Consistent preparation quality through preventive maintenance, adjustment, calibration, etc.
In short terms the advantages of using the ServiceGuard services, are a smooth running equipment operation (consistent throughput and quality), with very few surprises and a very fast response times if the equipment has any technical issues.
The different levels of support in the ServiceGuard ensures that the customer can balance their service investment to the criticality level of the “production” on their Struers equipment.
How is this unique to the industries that you serve?
The ServiceGuard is unique in the industry, simply because no other supplier of this kind of equipment has the same comprehensive service product range or service support capacity.
We are the market leading supplier of material sample preparation equipment globally, which naturally also provides the possibility to run a much larger service organization, and as available capacity in peak situations is the bottleneck in most service organizations, the size of the service organization is decisive for keeping a high consistent service level.
Beside the above, the ServiceGuard offerings are also unique because the concept as a.m. is based on customer's needs and requests, rather than on what are the traditional and usual service products.
There are numerous ways within the ServiceGuard concept to choose exactly the service support needed for any type of customer.
Why would someone choose a service plan over one of the service packages or single services options and vice versa?
Customers that use their equipment as an integrated part of their daily operation and therefore are highly dependent on the availability of their equipment, should be focusing on achieving the most efficient and trouble free operation, and will therefore be best off by entering the equipment on a service PLAN.
In the other category, customers that only use their equipment rarely, and are less dependent on availability, will probably benefit from choosing the single services ad hoc, as their irregular operation pattern will require a varying service assistance over the years.
However, if time is of the essence in the latter case, e.g. in R&D companies where the machines are not used frequently, but the results are very important for the immediate progress of a R&D project, it would also make sense to have the equipment on a service PLAN, where Struers take care that the equipment is always in a good functional condition.
The above is exactly the strength of the new ServiceGuard concept, that it can be combined to match the specific requirements at different types of customers.
What is the typical process a customer might follow and what should they expect when using this service?
More and more customers are fully aware of the productivity and efficiency gain they get from having their manufacturing equipment maintained preventively, and these customers proactively ask for service agreements or plans.
For the remaining part of the customers, we obviously try to explain the value of the preventive maintenance PLAN’s from the ServiceGuard concept, and as part of our general global support commitment, we can offer the customer a report of their “service activities” over the last 12 months, and if there tend to be many “emergency” activities at a specific time, we will definitely explain and recommend to implement one of the preventive maintenance plans from the ServiceGuard.
In both cases the process will be that a local Struers service engineer will make an assessment of the equipment operation pattern (1 shift or more shifts/day, amount of samples produced daily, etc.) and the maintenance status of the equipment. Based on the assessment Struers will recommend and offer a PLAN solution, including the visit frequency that we through our experience expect to be optimal (normally a maintenance visit should be carried out once a year if the equipment is operated in one shift equal to 1500h/year).
All customer should, when they shift from sporadic and emergency service activities, to a preventive maintenance PLAN e.g. the prevent PLAN, experience much less technical disturbances, higher productivity and a consistent high quality level.
Are there any recent case studies that you’re particularly proud of?
Due to the huge variance in customer types, and the way they use our equipment, we have found it hard to prove the particular impact of a service plan, but it is a fact that during the last couple of years we have had a renewal rate on our Preventive Maintenance Plans of more than 90%.
We regard the high renewal rate, as a clear sign that our preventive maintenance plans are highly valued in the market, and once a customer has experienced the advantages of a preventive maintenance agreement with Struers, they recognize the value and benefits of the maintenance agreement, and therefore continue year after year.
Where can our readers learn more?
In connection with the development of the ServiceGuard concept, Struers has established a specific website www.struersserviceguard.com where it is possible to read everything about the ServiceGuard products.
On the website, it is also possible for customers to test their own maintenance processes by answering a few questions. The result is generated immediately on-line, and is also forwarded to the customer by email.
About Lars Kalnæs
Struers is the global leading supplier of equipment and consumables for sample preparation for materialographic analysis. Struers design, manufacture, and distribute, the products to a broad range of the world’s highest profiled companies with in the steel, automotive, aeronautic, electronic industries and R&D companies
Lars is responsible for the after sales service business, matrix management of 7 service organizations in Scandinavia, DE, UK, FR, JP, CN and US, (approx.. 80 persons in total). Management of the central second line customer support function.
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