Customer feedback provides important impetus for the future

Just over a year ago, packaging machine manufacturer Schubert presented its newly revised service portfolio. Uwe Galm, Director of Customer Services at Gerhard Schubert GmbH, draws an initial assessment and explains in this interview what challenges still lie ahead.

You fundamentally revised and expanded Schubert’s service portfolio last year. What is your initial assessment?

At the time, our goal was to standardise the portfolio in such a way that we could address customer requirements with a modular portfolio of services – as we do with our modular machines. With the various components of the portfolio, we have succeeded in doing this: We are now able to put together and offer personalised service packages to meet specific customer needs quickly and easily. So, I would say that the direction is most definitely the right one.
In discussions with our customers, we have however noticed that there is still a need to adapt some of the services. Customer training is becoming increasingly important. This is directly related to the lack of skilled workers and at times the high employee turnover in manufacturing companies – machine operators and maintenance staff need significantly more support, both through on-site and online training. Here, the focus is on the operation, maintenance and troubleshooting of the machines. This is a challenge for us due to our previous capacities, but it is also a great opportunity to once again expand our offering.
Another issue is the introduction of CPQ software (Configure, Price, Quote), which will enable us to create customised offers more quickly. We are currently working on this.

What are your customers saying, especially about the customised service packages?

A very important feature of our portfolio is the customer gap analysis we undertake, before we even offer a service package: What is the current situation, what are the customer’s goals, what is missing to achieve them? The feedback on this is very positive, many feel it is an expression of appreciation and respect – listening to the customer at the outset strengthens mutual trust. We now also create a technology map which identifies the standard components of specific machines: Because our machines are so modular, it’s more a matter of operators mastering our various system components in terms of maintenance, troubleshooting and spare parts stocking, rather than focusing on a single machine as a self-contained system. Just listing the system components gives a quick overview of key service and training needs in the company, which in turn helps us select the most suitable services.

Technical services over a machine’s entire life cycle have been a given at Schubert for a long time. What is your experience with the new digital services based on machine data analysis?

We sometimes receive very interesting feedback from our customers on the analysis of machine data. For example, it appears that representing machine performance by means of a pure OEE figure is less significant than the ratio of packed units per unit of time and the losses incurred. As a result, we have addressed this suggestion and once again revised our CARE services. In particular, the presentation of data on the customer portal has been given an entirely new layout. With a standard and an expert mode, as well as an additional view over time, we now have three different modes that provide insight – ranging from very quick and intuitive to very detailed.

The display of data on the customer portal includes three different modes that provide everything from a very quick and intuitive perspective to a very detailed one.

You are planning to further network Schubert’s digital services and platforms, such as 3D printing, via PARTBOX. Where do things currently stand?

For us, digital networking is not only about technologies from Schubert. We want a solution for our customers that offers open interfaces. This is why Schubert is actively involved in the Transaction-Network (TN) start-up. TN is building a customer portal for the machine manufacturing sector with the aim of networking machine manufacturing and product manufacturing companies on a digital platform for asset management, e-commerce, production and performance data, as well as service and maintenance processes. This is where we will be docking with our services as well as with PARTBOX. This means that the customer can ultimately bring together machines from different suppliers on the same platform.

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