Much has changed within Voortman Steel Machinery the past year. More machines were added, but also more people. Such a strong growth sometimes requires a different, new approach. This also applies to the installation process of new machines. Rudy van Eden and Geert Smit talk about this new approach and how they apply it in their daily activities. Rudy van Eden (Support Engineer Projects) supports during the commissioning of new machines on site. His direct colleague Geert Smit (Support Installation) supports the installation. Geert: “We ensure that the boys can do their job well.” Both Rudy and Geert have several years of experience in the field. And it shows. “We know the working method and have experience in the ins and outs of the workplace. That is important when you have to manage people and processes.”
Over the past year, the installation procedure has changed drastically. The details of each project are discussed in advance as completely as possible with the service engineers and the project managers. There are more teams which are more permanent, each with their own specialties. Rudy explains: “Previously, the boys were assigned based on availability. Now they are assigned based on experience and knowledge. Instead of adapting colleagues to the projects, we now adapt the projects and planning.” Geert adds: “In the past, we had to figure it out ourselves. Now, many problems are prevented beforehand by discussing everything. That saves time and energy and frustration at the customer’s!”
The main goal of this new way of working is to prevent problems, instead of solving them afterwards. Rudy: “It is not completely right yet, but we are certainly on the right track.” Geert: “We already see fewer problems now. We invest in preparation and we save time during installation and commissioning in return. We also save a lot of time on aftercare. Actually, we are worth our weight in gold”, he finishes his argument laughing.
In the workshop, the FAT (Factory Acceptance Test) is executed and where possible, everything is being tested. Geert explains: “During the FAT we check whether the delivery is complete. Are all sold parts present, but also: does everything work properly, so that we can deliver a well-functioning system to the customer.” The SAT (Site Acceptance Test) takes place after installation, commissioning and training. At the SAT, the machine is checked for operation and specifications and, very important, everything is recorded. Deviations and tolerances are listed. “In this way, the customer not only signs for receipt, but also states that everything works well and the employees are sufficiently trained. This ensures clarity on both sides and prevents unclear complaints afterwards.”
In addition to the FAT and SAT, a SIT (System Integration Test) can also be performed. This test is specifically used after placement of a system (a combination of several cooperating machines). The machine itself is tested and the mutual cooperation of the machines in the system as well. “Does the system fit and does it meet the expectations of the customer? That is of course one of the main goals. And it is also one of the reasons for working with permanent teams now, they know exactly what the system must be capable of and what the customer can expect from it.”
This new way of working is positive for Voortman Steel Machinery and for the customer, so winwin. During the preparations, expectations are also managed: customers know what they can and should expect. At the same time, Voortman anticipates these expectations in advance. “After the machine or system has been installed, it will remain ‘in project’ for another four weeks. This means that the customer has four weeks to report any problems, after which we solve them as quickly as possible. That costs us a lot less time than before.” Rudy confirms that the new way of working has a direct impact on the cooperation. “Previously, the service engineers communicated via the Support department. Now we are their first point of contact and therefore also a filter. It gives a lot of clarity and peace in the workplace.” Geert can confirm this: “The communication lines have become much shorter.”