When deciding to implement a new laser machine, fabricators should consider these post-sale support factors among laser manufacturers
By Megan Tsevelekos, Marketing Specialist at Mazak Optonics Corp.
Fabricators should consider a variety of factors when adding a new laser-cutting machine to their operations. However, post-sale support is a vital element of laser-cutting operations and should be a focal point when weighing options. It is important to understand what type of service and support will fabricators receive after the laser has been installed.
Partnering with a laser machine manufacturer that can provide reliable and responsive customer support will help assure fabricators on having successful laser operations for the long run. Some post-sale support factors to consider include receiving laser machine service support, availability of technical support, access to spare parts, and resources for laser operator training.
While solid-state laser technology is robust, if the need for laser machine service arises having immediate customer support is a must. When a service visit is needed for onsite machine maintenance or servicing, receiving support in a timely manner will minimize machine downtime. Being able to resume laser-cutting quickly will save fabricators time and money.
By understanding the impact service support can have on a fabricator’s business, Mazak Optonics’ focuses on building a team of highly skilled engineers. Mark Dilling, General Manager of Customer Service at Mazak Optonics, explains, “At Mazak Optonics we are very customer-centric. We know the value of providing excellent customer service and that it is a key part of our customer satisfaction. For this reason, we have invested a lot of time and resources into finding the right people to provide exceptional service.”
Mazak Optonics has an extensive team of laser experts to provide service support for Mazak laser machines. Some of Mazak’s service engineers have over 30 years of experience. This experience allows for a thorough understanding of Mazak’s laser machines and translates to efficient servicing. The depth of this experience is also passed down to newly added team members during the training for their positions.
Dilling mentions, “We are continuously working to improve processes and train our service team on any new technology we have.” He continues, “To also ensure we get skilled workers, we started an apprenticeship program. We look for candidates with the right character and drive. We can then teach them everything they need to know about Mazak’s lasers while being able to receive a paycheck.”
Another factor that makes Mazak Optonics service support successful is scheduling. “We schedule all onsite service visits at the end of the week to make sure we can get to as many customers as possible the following week. We take into consideration the locations of our customers, where our Field Service Engineers (FSE) are located, and each FSE’s area of expertise. This allows us to utilize our engineers as effectively as we can to provide optimal service support,” says Dilling. Mazak Optonics also created a unique role called the Service Minuteman. This position is purposefully not scheduled at week’s end and is dispatched during the week to provide service for fabricators if an emergency arises. Having the Service Minuteman position increases the ability to be flexible when fabricators need immediate onsite assistance.
Finally, while having highly skilled employees is important for providing exceptional service support, being dedicated takes it to the next level. Dilling mentions, “We have an incredible team of engineers. Many of them have willingly sacrificed their time off the clock to make sure customers are taken care of. With the laser machine being the initial step of the fabrication process, Mazak’s service team knows the impact they have on a customer’s bottom line.”
A strong service support team is crucial to a fabricator’s operations and should be a top post-sale consideration.
Laser operators will have questions from time to time relating to machine troubleshooting, laser-cutting applications, and software programming. When this happens, being able to call or email a customer support staff to receive immediate technical support will help minimize interruptions in laser operations.
If a machine alarm occurs, fabricators may need to troubleshoot. Instead of attempting to troubleshoot alone, having a call center to contact for technical support is a beneficial resource to quickly resume laser-cutting. Mazak’s call center offers live support with extended hours, so fabricators have a larger window to call and receive technical support. Dilling explains, “Mazak Optonics has the best live customer support in the industry. Instead of talking to a bot, customers can call in and talk to a human from 6:30 AM – 10:30 PM on weekdays and from 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM on weekends. On weekends customers can leave a message and expect a call back within twenty minutes. This enables Mazak to be extremely responsive to our customers and help them quickly resolve any challenges to resume operations.”
Another way fabricators can receive technical support is through wearable technology. Wearable technology has been integrated into the industrial world, and Mazak Optonics has adapted to this advancement in technology by offering SMART Glasses. This wearable technology solution can help fabricators better facilitate virtual support for their Mazak laser. Some key features of Mazak’s SMART Glasses include complete 2-way video with audio streaming, telestration and image sharing, along with unmatched speech recognition and noise isolation. SMART Glasses can be utilized to enhanced communication and support needed between the laser operator and a Technical Support Engineer.
For operational questions about laser-cutting, Mazak’s skilled Application Engineers can provide support for all current and legacy 2D, 3D, and tube laser machines. Tim Tapper, Applications Manager at Mazak Optonics Corp., explains, “The Applications department acts as consultants when it comes to operational laser-cutting assistance. Instead of having fabricators struggling to figure out cutting challenges on their own, they can contact us to reduce machine downtime and increase productivity.”
Not only can Mazak’s Application Engineers help with operational laser-cutting questions, they can also assist to help maximize a laser machine’s capabilities. Tapper explains, “Application Engineers also help laser operators understand how to utilize their laser machine beyond the basics. We can help streamline their laser-cutting applications to make the machine more efficient for their operations.”
Application Engineers also provide support to enhance a fabricator’s laser-cutting applications by helping develop the best cutting conditions for materials. “If a customer has an odd material they are trying to cut, we can develop the process to help them achieve a proper cut. Customers can send in a sample of the material and we will work with it to create the proper cutting conditions.” Laser operators can also send in files they are struggling with, and an Applications Engineer can re-create issues in Mazak’s Laser Technology Center and properly develop the file to successfully achieve laser-cutting applications.
Technical support for software programs may also be needed during laser-cutting operations. A fabricator may be programming a new nest of parts and need assistance on how to best utilize their software. Instances like this call for the help of a Software Engineer. Mazak’s Software Engineers are able to provide virtual support through a variety of outlets: phone, email, and remote support sessions using TeamViewer. By utilizing a solution like TeamViewer, Mazak Software Engineers can log directly into a laser operator’s software system remotely to conduct troubleshooting. Tim O’Donnell, Software Supervisor at Mazak Optonics Corp., says, “Mazak’s software team provides post-sale support to make sure a fabricator’s programs are properly optimized, allowing for the laser machine to operate at its full potential to maximize production.”
Accessibility to consumables and spare parts for a newly implemented laser is another post-sale support factor to consider. Does the laser manufacturer provide a large inventory of parts, or will the fabricator need to go through a third-party seller?
After investigating this, identify what the average fulfillment times are for receiving parts. Can parts be delivered by the next day, or will it take a week or longer? For these reasons, Mazak Optonics aims to stock $8 million in spare part inventory and achieves a 98% same-day shipping fulfillment.
Ricardo Juarez, Warehouse Group Leader at Mazak Optonics Corp. mentions, “When shipping parts to customers, I always pretend that we are shipping the parts to ourselves. This gives Mazak’s team the mindset of putting ourselves in the customer’s shoes when preparing and shipping part orders.” Juarez continues, “We also utilize an automated storage system that holds Mazak’s vast spare part inventory. Using an automated system helps us be more efficient with tracking down the parts needed to provide same-day shipping to customers.”
Not only is having access to parts crucial but knowing which parts the laser needs is equally as important. That is why Mazak’s spare parts department collaborates with the Technical Support Engineers to determine the required parts. Steve Brazil, Technical Support Engineer at Mazak Optonics Corp. explains, “Sometimes, the part(s) a customer provides has no description or part number label. Mazak’s Technical Support Engineers can spot where the part goes in the laser machine and then find it in the machine manual. Once we uncover what the part is, we can pass the information along to our parts department where they can then register the part(s) in our database to make ordering parts in the future faster and an overall smoother process.”
Furthermore, will a fabricator receive lifetime parts support for the laser they chose? Partnering with a laser manufacturer that will stock parts for all current and legacy laser models is a major advantage. This means that as the laser machine ages, fabricators will not have to struggle to find and replace parts and consumables. Whether the laser machine is brand new or over twenty-years-old, Mazak Optonics offers guaranteed lifetime parts support for every laser-cutting machine.
By choosing a laser manufacturer that provides quick and easy access to parts, fabricators can avoid the possibility of machine downtime and have an overall peace of mind with maintaining operations.
The last valuable post-sale support factor to consider is seeing what training resources are available. Training resources will help laser operators fully understand the new laser machine and learn how to use it to its maximum potential. Training courses to consider are machine operator training, software programming, and advanced maintenance training.
Mazak Optonics provides a full week of hands-on laser operator training and software training courses at Mazak’s Laser Technology Center. “We can take someone who is fairly new to working with CNC equipment and have them running a full-fledge production on their Mazak laser by the end of the week,” says Tapper. Hands-on training in Mazak’s facility allows operators and programmers to gain a thorough understanding of their laser-cutting machine in a distraction-free environment. “By coming to Mazak’s Technology Center, fabricators have the ability to be isolated from the day-to-day distractions of being in their facility,” mentions O’Donnell.
While training at Mazak’s Laser Technology Center can minimize distractions, laser operators are getting the benefit of being trained by Mazak laser experts. Tapper explains, “Being an Application Engineer at Mazak Optonics typically requires someone who has built up their knowledge. Our engineers come from a machine service or software aspect and thoroughly know these laser machines.”
Another available training resource Mazak Optonics offers is software training and programming. Software training is provided to customers who have purchased Mazak software for their laser-cutting machine. Learning to program the software is only the first step to successful laser-cutting. O’Donnell explains, “Understanding how to maximize the laser machine’s performance is an additional advantage to our software training.”
An additional training aspect to consider is teaching laser users how to perform preventative maintenance procedures to maintain machine cleanliness and reduce the opportunity for machine downtime to occur. Mazak Optonics offers an Advanced Maintenance course that is available for laser operators to learn how to perform basic preventative machine maintenance. Taking this course can be advantageous for fabricators as they will not require as many service visits and can keep the laser machine clean for consistent laser-cutting operations.
A final resource available to fabricators is Mazak’s Tech Tips. Mazak Tech Tips are quick reference sheets based on frequently asked laser-cutting questions to help laser operators improve their laser's performance. Application Engineers provide technical step-by-step tips to processes that will increase efficiencies for laser-cutting operations.
Partnering with a laser manufacturer that has several training and educational resources will give fabricators the right tools needed to successfully understand operating a laser-cutting machine. Ensuring that laser operators are well-rehearsed with running the new laser machine will help streamline and even enhance operations.
Post-sale support should be a focal point when considering which laser-cutting solution to implement. Having an exceptional service support team to count on after the laser has been installed will help increase the longevity of the laser machine and fabricators will also able to resume laser-cutting operations quickly if issues arise. Considering these post-sale support factors will help determine the right laser machine manufacture to partner with that aligns with a fabricator’s long-term laser-cutting operation needs.
Discover more about Mazak Optonics’ service and customer support team: