What is the key to a good manufacturer-customer relationship? “There’s a clear answer: trust,” says Markus Claudy, head of the Service/Parts division at Vecoplan. The company, which is based in Bad Marienberg in Germany’s Westerwald, develops, produces and sells machinery for shredding, conveying and processing primary and secondary raw materials in production and recycling. The materials include engineering plastics that are solid, tough or highly temperature resistant, pre-shredded biomass that must be homogeneous and free of extraneous material after processing, and waste materials from communal landfill sites for use as alternative fuels in the cement industry. “We adapt the machines to customer’s applications in our in-house technical centre,” explains Claudy. “We install them, commission them and see to it that they operate reliably throughout their service life.” Vecoplan offers users a variety of contractually agreed service plans that can be customised for their applications.
Along with the Wood/Biomass and Recycling/Waste divisions, the Service/Parts division plays an important role at Vecoplan. Markus Claudy’s team of 30 employees supports customers beyond commissioning. “Preventing malfunctions and machine downtimes is only one of the tasks of our after-sales service,” he explains. “Our customers often also have to modify their machinery in accordance with changed production conditions or to increase its capacity.”
Support around the clock
And what if a user’s system suddenly shuts down? “Our hotline is open around the clock, every day of the year,” says Claudy. “We provide help over the phone right away.” Vecoplan’s technicians first try to rectify the problem via remote diagnostics. In many cases the systems can go back online very quickly. In addition, the causes of the malfunction are determined in order to prevent a recurrence. But not every fault can be remedied over the phone. “In such cases we prevent prolonged downtimes by sending a colleague to the customer to solve the problem, and in some countries, such as the United Kingdom, we give the job to one of our licensed service partners.”
Vecoplan’s Live Service is a more cost-efficient alternative. Users can request direct online support from anywhere in the world. Vecoplan’s experts can access the controller or the control panel and identify, analyse and eliminate errors in real time. Live images can be transmitted via web cams and complex technical issues can be explained using chat or video/teleconference technology. “Moreover, relevant data and documents can be called up online,” explains Claudy. “All the service measures are also listed. Users are reminded in good time when maintenance activities are due.”
To increase the user-friendliness Vecoplan has also developed a service app so that customers can send their enquiries via smartphone. It can be downloaded free of charge for iOS and Android. Thanks to the Live Service link, all data relevant to the machine components, such as filling level, speeds, operating hours, drives and current consumption, are displayed on the customer’s smartphone or tablet. This gives the responsible plant superintendent or works manager an overview of the system functions, enabling him to monitor them and take action in good time. The application can also be used without the Live Service package. Customers can respond immediately in the event of operating faults and trigger a request without delay. “We also offer virtual reality headsets,” says Claudy. “When an employee uses one, our service engineer can display all the relevant information in the employee’s visual field.” The employee has both hands free to follow the expert’s instructions. Thanks to this service tool, Vecoplan’s maintenance personnel need to make fewer site visits. This cuts costs and saves time.
Boosting the performance of existing
Vecoplan also helps its customers to meet increased capacity requirements. Its specialists retrofit existing machinery from end to end. Besides benefiting from greater operational reliability, users improve their processes and minimise risks. “For example, we upgraded a VAZ 2500 T re-shredder for a customer, enabling it to double its throughput while consuming the same amount of power,” says Claudy. “What’s more, the output material was more homogeneous.”
The user is a processor of industrial waste that produces refuse-derived fuels with a high calorific value for power plants, cement works and lime works. The quality of the material was improved by minimising the overlengths in re-shredding. The customer also wanted to increase its capacity, originally 4.5 to 5 tonnes per hour, up to 8 tonnes per hour. “We replaced the U-rotor with a W-rotor, which was more suitable for this material,” says Claudy. “In this project we were in charge of overall planning, project management, installation and commissioning. We also provided proof of performance.”
What is the best option?
Vecoplan also performs service checks and carries out all maintenance work. Its employees check wear parts and spare parts at regular intervals and make sure that replacements are delivered on time. Users can also opt for fire protection for machinery. This includes locating possible sources of ignition in the material during the shredding process and providing automatic extinguishing systems for quick response. But, what is the best service option for a given application? “We’re familiar with our machines and our customers’ needs,” says Claudy. “Thus we can recommend service agreements that are appropriate to the specific application, ensuring safe operation and maximum operating time.”