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New service system from MAN Ferrostaal

Wednesday, 31 October 2007
By Print 21 Online Article

South African Shaun Thiele is the man charged with upgrading MAN Roland sheetfed press servicing in the region.

The wide-ranging overhaul of the local agent’s service division will include support for all the company’s agencies including MAN Roland presses, Bobst die cutters and finishing equipment from the likes of Kolbus and MBO. It is part of a corporate transformation since MAN Ferrostaal branded its subsidiary, the former IPP Print & Pack.

Thiele, a South African with experience in industrial processes and capital equipment projects, such as in the petrochemical industry is an industry outsider. He regards this as a strength, allowing him take bring a fresh perspective to the challenges of delivering service to the local graphic arts industry.

“The key, for me, is the fact that I have a long association with industrial companies and processes and that has been a strength I’ve carried forward in this job in terms of a broader view of industry support and service and having had exposure to a wide range of world class practice,” he explains. “That’s been helpful to me in terms of looking at what we need to do to improve the quality of service and service delivery to our customers.”

Six months into his new role, Thiele has embarked on extensive discussions with customers to determine what their service and support expectations may be and how they can be best fulfilled. In some cases, this has involved addressing long-term issues regarding service delivery. He is clearly determined to understand what concerns today’s printers in order to better focus on building lasting relationships for the future.

So far he reports significant progress in a short space of time with outstanding problems have been fixed and the groundwork laid for developing more proactive approaches to service needs. “Why I prefer to focus on proactive or preventative maintenance is that you can plan it within your production cycle, allocate time to it and ensure you get maximum uptime on the equipment,” Thiele explains, outlining his service philosophy.

“Reactive or breakdown service doesn’t make much sense to me. The overall costs are higher, it has a knock-on effect, repairs costs are higher and the discomfort to the business is higher. With modern technology, if it is properly looked after with scheduled maintenance, then generally wear and tear on the equipment is reduced. Well-serviced equipment costs less to run, it makes more revenue and it makes more profitable revenue.

Changing expectations

A new service tracking module due to be introduced will enable more detailed day-to-day and long term maintenance planning and will eventually evolve into the type of system that delivers value to customers from the point of view of reporting and being able to see how investing in preventative maintenance pays off.

Service is often one of the most emotive and contentious areas of contact between customers and suppliers, frequently taking place at moments of great stress and in high-pressure circumstances. Thiele’s pragmatic approach extends to the business side of getting customers to pay for the service they receive, an often thorny issue in the past when service deals might have been wrapped up as a  hidden cost in the sale of a machine. That might work when there are large amounts of equipment going in, but consolidation in the industry and the length of investment cycles these days no longer makes it a sustainable way of doing business.

“In these circumstances, it becomes imperative that you have a service business that is delivering a profit back into the organisation in order to fund future growth,” says Thiele. “If that business is not profitable then it is inevitable that the company will cut costs in that area. From customer’s perspective, they want to get that service as cheaply as possible and they want the best, fairest and quickest reactive service that they can get, but that’s not going to happen if you cut costs out of the business.”
Thiele is adamant that when customers come to appreciate the value of the service they receive then they are invariably willing to pay for it.

“When we are able to keep our promises that means our customers become more profitable,” he says. “The key measure of success is the way customers value us as service providers – that tells the whole story.”

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