What make a Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) so valuable?
I recently attended a successful Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) for the electromechanical ADE actuators that we supply during the renovation of the...
Date: 8 September 2016
On a daily basis, my back office colleagues, have customers on the phone for inquiries or advice about, for example, a linear actuator or complete XYZ system. The engineer often already has an idea or solution in mind. He tells us what's on his drawing or what he has in mind and asks for a proposal or solution, and asks: "What will that cost?". Easy question, which is not so easy to answer if you want to answer it properly. After all these years, we are well aware that without asking supplementary questions, it won't be the solution in which the customer benefits the most.
Specifications such as range, weights, speeds and accelerations is often not a problem to defined by phone. The various options for mechanical construction we can also discuss fairly easily using examples on our website. But then soon it often turns out that the customer wants just a little different solution. And at the question how the system should be controled or how the customer wants to sett the movement, soon we will hear: "good question, what is possible?".
Of course living in a time of Bol.com and CoolBlue, we prefer getting information and prices directly online at our desk, and also wishe to purchase immediately this way. The challange aheat for us is to motivate the customer for applications such as XYZ systems to sit around the tabel and discuss them adequately. Of course there are simple applications for which solutions can be found on our website. In that case we also like to help the customer as quickly and effectively as possible. If that fails, or questions still remain, then I'd rather suggest to discuss the application at the table as quickly as possible. In a dialogue, that is, the ability to identify good questions and answers, often arises a much clearer and complete picture of the matter. In general, the assembly or installation in the system can be a bottleneck with customers. It's best to work with drawings and catalogs to find together the right solution. Subsequently too often it becomes clear that there hasn't really been thought about the programming, control or operation of the multi-axis systems. For this we have plenty options, depending on the customer wishes. By discussing these possibilities, the customer will get an impression of that, which will help them out in this process.
A great example recently of a customer looking for a compact XYZ system. He had found a clever solution on our website: the IAI TableTop XYZ table. The customer was appealed by the simplicity of the system. He could thus easily install an UV lamp to the Z-axis and position this above a UV measuring instrument. What will you do; offer this blindly or first discuss the application? The latter is more favorable! After the initial inquiry, my back office sales colleague Martin van der Steenhoven, called the customer for more information and reviewed the application. That conversation revealed that the customer actually had additional needs besides the initial specifications.
To get a complete picture, I visited the customer. In advance I explained that in the majority of cases it is proven, that we get a much better idea of the scope of the application at the table, which allows us to offer a better or even cheaper solution. This was also the case here. The colleague from the control department was involved in the conversation. And he indicated that they needed positional feedback from the XYZ system to Labview on the PC. That is a very specific question, for which our Trio motion coordinator offers a powerful tool. This tool is not present in the solution which the customer had in mind at first. In the end, we quickly found a solution with this controller, which literally fits their machine well. Had we initially offered what the client requested, we'd have supplied a system that ultimately would not meet the requirements, or we'd had to review the proposal at a later stage.
A phone call or pingpong via email, as I call it, does not have the result like a two hours conversation at the table. It may seem effective, but overall it won't bring you the best solution and ultimately it would cost much more time and money.