20 January, 2018

The importance of value-added service

15 February, 2017

Paul Shillam, managing director of Star Hydraulics, considers what end users and OEMs should look for in terms of equipment and service provision from their suppliers.


Although your electro-hydraulic equipment of choice should, first and foremost, have a proven track record of suitability and reliability for your particular type of application, there are several other factors that I believe should be borne in mind when choosing your preferred supplier.

Repairs and servicing

In addition to being able to provide equipment on time and to specification, I believe the supplier should also have the capability to turn around repairs, as well as be able to carry our servicing and upgrades, within a short timeframe. In the case of Star Hydraulics, we are not only able to offer this service for our own range of servo-valves, but also for a number of other servo valve manufacturers; even some that are no longer trading.

Customisation

As well as being able to provide a range of proven standard equipment, together with careful materials selection, it is important for a supplier also to have the capability to satisfy requirements that are specific to a particular customer’s requirements regarding, for example, size, output and materials. In the case of Star Hydraulics, we can discuss customers’ needs face to face in order to provide servo-valves with precisely the right specification for the task. Our factory houses modern equipment that is able to execute all aspects of servo valve design, manufacture and testing. This includes 3D CAD/CAM design, digital and analogue PID control and clean air assembly and test facilities together with a dedicated development department.

Service and support

Something that I consider to be a non-negotiable on the part of the supplier is a proven and well-established level of customer service and support. In this regard, Star Hydraulics ensures that there is a strong engineer-to-engineer relationship in place. We always endeavor to ensure customers are able to communicate directly with our engineering and design personnel during a site visit or by phone in order to gain a speedy and effective understanding of their needs. Moreover, we will always focus primarily on repairing a valve before suggesting that a valve needs to be replaced.

Global presence

Because many end users and OEMs have operations worldwide I believe it is critical that their equipment suppliers have a strong global presence in order to provide new or replacement equipment and parts, or a repair and overhaul service within a short timeframe wherever it is needed. In the case of Star Hydraulics, this is undertaken in conjunction with our Star International Distribution and Service Partner Network worldwide.

Wide sector coverage

Equipment providers should also have a proven track record in serving a wide range of specific industry sectors. Star Hydraulics offers full support to the OEMs, resellers and end-users in all key sectors; including aerospace testing, automotive testing, flight simulators, motorsport, plastics, power generation, rail, rolling mills, sawmills, seismic, subsea – ROV.

Advice and guidance

Beyond the more central supplier-customer dynamic concerning equipment provision and support, there are other value-added services that I believe the supplier should provide. One of these services is education and training. In the case of Star Hydraulics, we hold regular seminars at our site in Tewksbury. These seminars cover topics such as what engineers should know about hydraulics, including the importance of fluid cleanliness and filtration.

Being an equipment supplier should entail being so much more than simply products, components and solutions provision. Today more than ever, end users and OEMs require a reliable level of back-up and support from their solutions vendors in order to ensure their mission-critical equipment runs efficiently with minimal downtime no matter in what sector and in what environment it operates in. It is all about the value-add.

www.star-hydraulics.co.uk

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