Positive Tech Support Experiences

Mission-critical high-tech CNC gear is as good as the company that backs it up with parts, service, and support. March 26, 2009

Apologies in advance if this sounds like an advertisement, but I wanted to share a support experience I just had with our CR Onsrud router. In the wake of IWF some of you may be considering the purchase of a CNC router. This is my way of saying look beyond the glitter and marketing when making your selection; consider what service and support will be available on your new, expensive, mission-critical machine.

Just yesterday my router operator came to me and said, "Could you come look at the machine?" This question usually bodes ill... It turns out a piece of plywood had been kicked off of the table during the machining process and wedged itself between the gantry column and one of the pop-up pins mounted on the edge of the table. After an hour of wood surgery to remove the plywood piece by piece, we restarted the machine, but all was not well. We were unable to reference the spindle - it just refused to move. All of the axis drives were faulted, complaining with their blinking red error lights. Physically, the machine was fine and could be moved manually.

Since this was late in the day on the West Coast (do problems ever occur during normal working hours?), I called the after hours support number for CR Onsrud. Within minutes (15, to be exact), Colby, the on-call Onsrud technician, called me and walked me through a few diagnostic steps. After about five minutes and a couple of simple tests, we discovered that the piece of plywood, in a final act of defiance, had sheared off a proximity sensor. No sensor, no machine.

First thing this morning I picked up a new sensor from Grainger (gotta love off-the-shelf components!) and had the machine back up and running in very short order. Total production downtime maybe three hours.

The point to this message is: When you are considering the purchase of a machine that will become so critical to your operation, make sure the company has the expertise to be there when and where you need them. In my case the problem was solved over the telephone by an expert technician who was literally sitting on the couch at home. He knew my machine so well he could walk me through the problem solving process on the fly.

Cost of repair: $85
Cost of expert support: Priceless.

Forum Responses
(CNC Forum)
From contributor M:
I looked at machining centers and routers for 3 years before I finally purchased an Onsrud. And quite frankly, many of the top manufacturers just did not make the cut after some thorough investigation. I have high expectations... just ask anyone who has tried to sell me something. And after a year of owning this Onsrud, I am continually amazed.
I purchased AlphaCAM with the router. I get toll-free tech support for 5 years. I don't have to pay an annual maintenance fee with Planit for them to answer my questions. And I don't have to pay for applications support. And like you said, Toll Free After Hours Support... nada!

And I get the Leitz tooling that they sell, collets, tool holders, and Onsrud cutters.I get that cheaper from them than I do locally using my Leitz discount.

But let me tell you about the other side. This European edgebander that I bought new just had a heater go out. And yes, it is a proprietary part. If a gluepot rebuild costs $2,000 to $3,000, this heater, 1 of 5, cost $257. Nearly 13% of a complete rebuild. And that doesn't include labor!

Contrast that with Onsrud, who will either sell you the part at a discount, or tell you what the part number is so you can go get it yourself, to these big distributors who will sell you a machine at or below their cost because they know that they will make that money up when you have to buy their proprietary parts.

In my experience, I have not found a manufacturer/distributor like Onsrud. They have an extremely strong technical side, a solid application side, and then they really do care about you.

Today, Linda called to schedule my C-axis training. She knew that Dodge wants $20,000 to replace the fuel system in my truck, with 29,000 miles. She knew that because Clint, the guy who sold me my router over a year ago, still keeps up with me. Clint and Eric, my local rep, really are invested in my success. And this is representative of the culture of caring I find at Onsrud. I don't think they send their staff to Caring Courses. I think they hire people who really care. They say that their largest demographic of buyers are previous owners. I understand why.

From contributor B:
Yes, you are absolutely right. I've had similar support experiences with both my CNT router and my SL-Laser. Sunday calls from both to help solve problems.

From contributor L:
I own Biesse products, and I can ditto for support. The phone support 24/7 is phenomenal to say the least. The support staff in the office is great, too. Parts that can be purchased locally so that I can run are always told to me in a cross reference manner. I applaud every company that has the customer first motto - Yaskawa is the same. Working with engineers and refit specialists currently, support and service is unbelievable.

From contributor S:
Regardless of how good the after-sales service and support is, if the machine doesn't perform as expected and if it's not reliable, then it doesn't matter how good the after-sales service and support is. That's not to say after-sales service and support isn't important - it is.

From contributor Y:
We run 4 numerically controlled machines plus a molder. With one exception all have had very good support. Iíve never been charged for tech support other than having a tech come on site. The 4 machines with very good support are: Komo, Schelling, IDM (SCM), and Weinig. I wonít name the loser and for sure will never have another from that company. Parts (electrical and pneumatic) for almost all machines can be had from industrial supply houses.