Is It Time to Consider a Maintenance Contract?

For the two most recent blogs, we’ve made an assumption. That is, you staff your own maintenance team. But what if that’s not the case? Or what if you’re thinking it might be time for a change?

Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Jeff Hedges, President of OPEX Warehouse Automation, has some thoughts here.

That said, Jeff, why would anyone give up local control of maintenance and outsource it to an equipment supplier such as OPEX?

“Actually, there’s no better source than an OEM. No one else understands the equipment better. No one else has the in-depth knowledge and resources to keep the equipment up and running. And no one else is in a position to ensure your equipment receives updates as quickly as a supplier can.

That’s just for starters. If you decide to have your own maintenance team, you do have to build the team and ensure it is highly functional for automated systems. There’s also the matter of managing your own spare parts inventory. All of that goes away with contract maintenance. In short, making a supplier responsible takes all of that time, effort, staff and dollars off your plate.”

Sounds appealing. But it’s probably expensive. How does a company know that it’s getting its money’s worth?

“Yes, there is a cost to it. And some people immediately ask us about that cost. That’s when we start to unpack what you get from OPEX in particular. Our maintenance package is different. We work closely with our customers to determine the support coverage they are most comfortable with (i.e. single shift/ 5 days per week up to 24/7). We then provide a cost for that level of coverage for the year. Once we have reached that agreement, the fee is set. That cost covers all scheduled and unscheduled maintenance calls within the coverage they requested. It covers all support activities. It covers all spare parts. It covers all equipment updates. That cost covers everything listed in the support agreement for the entire year.”

Up to a point, right?

“When I said everything, I meant everything.  There are no limits to maintenance calls, support or parts during their coverage agreement. It’s one set fee. As far as I know, OPEX is the only material handling company that works this way. And we have a long history of making it work for our customers. As a company, OPEX has been around for 40 years. We have always managed maintenance contracts this way. The Warehouse Automation division adopted that way of doing business when it started seven years ago. And it works. One fee per maintenance contract, per year.”

That sounds pretty good, but it’s not the way other material handling companies operate, especially lift truck dealers.

“You have to keep in mind that Perfect Pick and Sure Sort are both Formula 1 race cars. They are not a lift truck or a conveyor. Maintenance of OPEX equipment requires a unique expertise and responsiveness. And when that car pits, we work on it and release it in top shape in a very short time so the user can get back to winning its race to fulfill orders.

As I said, we are the only company managing maintenance fees this way. Unlike others, there is no clause that sets a limit for maintenance contract activity before additional fees kick in. OPEX sets the fee upfront and guarantees it. It’s really that simple. Better yet, our customers agree.”

Gary Forger is the former editor of Modern Materials Handling magazine and the Material Handling & Logistics U.S. Roadmap to 2030.

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