Service levels can differentiate packaging OEMs

By John Kalkowski in Fillers on April 04, 2012

Services now account for nearly 80 percent of the U.S. GDP, according to a recent article in the newsletter Future Thinking. Most companies pay some level of attention to customer service. They might even have a few goals and metrics built around the idea of service. While packaging is a key step in manufacturing, perhaps it's time for those involved in the process to consider how important service is to their future.


Forward-thinking original equipment manufacturers are beginning to realize that providing exceptional after-market services is a way to differentiate their offering. A well-developed service platform not only functions as a differentiator, but as Future Thinking points out, it can be relatively inexpensive to implement and provide recurring revenue.

In packaging, productivity is king. Modern packaging lines are designed for speed, reliability and repeatable high quality. Companies rely on materials to protect the product, but also to not cause downtime. CPGs have little tolerance for downtime due to material or machinery failures.


The Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI) recently conducted a study on service issues and expectations in packaging. PMMI's report concludes that 62 percent of end users are satisfied with services provided by North American machine builders. However, less than half of the end users are satisfied with the number of "knowledgeable service technicians and their availability."


The PMMI study points out that packaging machines are becoming increasingly complicated. As a result, service personnel are expected to be be skilled mechanics, system integrators and savvy computer technicians, too. This is happening at a time when fewer engineers are entering the manufacturing marketplace, while veteran engineers are retiring at a faster rate than they are being replaced, the study says.


All too often, companies offer a piecemeal approach to service without organizing their efforts to maximize the impact.


Forward-thinking original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are beginning to realize that providing exceptional after-market services is a way to differentiate their offering. A well-developed service platform not only functions as a differentiator, but as Future Thinking points out, it can be relatively inexpensive to implement and provide recurring revenue.


The basis for success in service is to really understand your company's expertise and your customers' requirements, and then build a service platform around your strengths and the customers' needs. The services a packaging company offers can include many elements, such as highly skilled and available technicians, operator training, easily understood documentation, preventive maintenance programs, online and remote support, extensive spare parts inventories and quick order turnaround. Most importantly, any service program must emphasize a high level of responsiveness and flexibility to meet the mission-critical requirements of customers.

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