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Heidenhain service exchange makes sound economic sense

An increasing number of users of Heidenhain CNC systems and DROs are cashing in on the benefits of the Heidenhain Service Exchange concept. This market-leading product warranty scheme is unbeatable for its cost-effectiveness and reliability in helping users minimise machine downtimes while at the same time eradicate the headaches often associated with machine and equipment repair.

The concept is simple: from its Burgess Hill headquarters in West Sussex, HEIDENHAIN (GB), the world-leading supplier of angular, linear and rotary encoders, digital readouts and CNC systems, provides a replacement Heidenhain CNC/DRO system - on next-day delivery - and backed by a 12-month warranty for the complete control unit, not just on a certain pcb board or capacitor, for example.

David Linscer, who has been Service Manager at HEIDENHAIN (GB) for over 25 years, says that around 40 per cent of the company's service activity is represented by Service Exchange business.

"Speed is obviously of the essence in getting machines up and running, and users don't necessarily want to worry about anti-static precautions with the switching in and out of pcb boards," he says. "If back-up machining data is available, nothing could be easier than simply unplugging a control/DRO system and plugging in a replacement unit."

The faulty unit is then returned to Burgess Hill for repair, after which it joins the company's extensive pool of products available for future Service Exchange.

All details of every repair are recorded (by product serial number) and held on the corporate Heidenhain Quality System, which is continually monitored and, if appropriate, recommendations for manufacturing updates are made to rectify recurring faults.

A high-level of experience is available in the Heidenhain (GB) service team, starting with David Linscer who began his career as an apprentice toolmaker before entering the world of electronics engineering for medical and aerospace applications. 

His role is complemented at Burgess Hill's fully ESD-protected workshop by a team of dedicated repair engineers who have on average over 20 years service in the company in dealing with product repairs for the wide range of products (Anilam, Acu-Rite and Metronic as well as HEIDENHAIN) being repaired - plus field service engineers based in Milton Keynes and Leicester to cover the UK. There is also an extensive network of authorised distributors who are 'quality control checked' by HEIDENHAIN and who use Heidenhain-calibrated test equipment.

David Linscer believes that the real key to the Heidenhain's highly successful service policy is the fact that "we consistently offer the correct service to match the customer's problem - whether that be Service Exchange, the use of an authorised distributor or the despatch of one of our engineers.

"In addition, it has never been our policy to charge for repairs by labour and components; instead we work on a clear menu of 'package' charges that are based on fixed costs/hourly repair rate. This means the customer knows exactly where he stands. Additionally, we support every product for 10 years, or supply an appropriate replacement."

For Rob Kendall, Managing Director of Clevedon (Somerset) based A.I.M. - an established supplier of high-precision parts to industry sectors such as aviation, racing car and general engineering - the Service Exchange concept makes sound economic sense. 

"With over 30 CNC machines in use, ranging from multi-axis lathes through to five-axis machining centres, ensuring we have an adequate supply of 'spare' control systems/components available off-the-shelf would not make economic sense," he says. 

"Of course, we also cannot afford to have machines sitting idle for long periods, and we've always found Heidenhain's service and support to be very good - it's prompt and it's very cost-effective."

And Hardinge Machine Tool's John Adams - and his customers - have been utilising the benefits of Service Exchange for at least the past ten years that he has been Service Manager at one of the UK's leading machine tool manufacturers and suppliers. 

"We adopt the policy across all our vertical machining centres, including the very sophisticated five-axis models," he says, "and Heidenhain's quick response strategy is the most efficient way to minimise users' downtimes. Depending on the situation, we have the replacement Heidenhain unit either sent to our UK head office in Leicester or direct to the customer.

"Using Heidenhain's Service Exchange means we can provide users with a first-class responsive service at the most attractive price," he affirms.

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