- MIXING Service
Regular maintenance, provident repair of worn parts and immediate help when it’s needed: customers all around the world rely on the HF service team.
HF services worldwide
Customer service plays a key role for any company in the mechanical engineering sector. After all, nothing is worse for a customer than a machine not working at its best or even experiencing the failure of system parts. That is why top service has also been a high priority at the HF MIXING GROUP from the very beginning. However, demands have changed at a tremendous pace in recent years, driven by technological advancements and globalisation.
Besides development and sales, service is also crucial to the overall success of the HF MIXING GROUP. Ultimately, customers in the plastics and tyre industry depend on 100 per cent availability and a high degree of operational reliability when it comes to their systems. Their production capacity is based on a shift operation, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. ‘Unplanned downtimes can quickly lead to losses of 100,000 euros and more per day,’ explains Reinhard Jenne, head of customer service at the HF MIXING GROUP in Freudenberg. Accordingly, his area of responsibility is primarily concerned with averting unplanned downtimes by taking preventive service and maintenance measures at an early stage.
To this end, Jenne must ensure that the HF service team can be contacted day and night and is able to act immediately in serious cases. Availability is guaranteed by the 24-hour service hotline. ‘In a globalised world, taking immediate action is easier said than done. Although we can coordinate many aspects from Freudenberg, we are not always able to act quickly enough in other parts of the world,’ says the experienced service manager explaining the situation. ‘For Russia, China and many other markets in which the HF MIXING GROUP is active, we have to apply for visas for our service staff and take into account the individual customs formalities in each case. As such, it is not always possible to guarantee a reasonable reaction time.’ Being on hand locally is therefore indispensable.
Global service structure
HF has invested a great deal of time and money in setting up such regional service bases in recent years: Europe is generally covered by the group’s own locations in Freudenberg (Germany), Rescaldina (Italy) and Rochdale (UK). In addition, the group also has its own service base in Paris, which looks after France, and a service office in Barcelona, which is responsible for Spain and Portugal. There is also a service base in Dubnica, Slovakia, which will increasingly take care of customers in Eastern Europe. As markets, Asia and South East Asia are becoming ever more important to the HF MIXING GROUP. As such, the best possible customer service must also be offered here. That is why HF has set up service bases for the Asian and South East Asian markets in Malaysia, China and India. South America is covered by its own service base in Brazil, while the whole of North America has its own company locations: HF MIXING GROUP Ansonia, Connecticut, and especially HF MIXING GROUP Topeka, Kansas – a location which not only carries out field service, but is also in a position to manufacture specific components for rebuilds and general overhauls. HF has its own service bases in a total of 14 countries. Some of these work with other local service partners to cover the various regional areas. Among other things, this also ensures that the HF service team can always communicate with its customers in their own language.
Through regular training courses and professional development, HF continually keeps the service team and external service partners up to date in relation to the product portfolio and technology. The range of services offered by the customer service team is wide: besides regular maintenance work and inspections, the service employees also carry out general overhauls, repairs and modernisation work on existing machinery and systems. They often also provide comprehensive technical advice on the general condition of the equipment or the mixing room. ‘Besides the pure mechanics, complex hydraulic and pneumatic systems are playing an increasingly bigger role in recent years,’ reports Jenne. ‘The degree of automation has risen massively and with it the amount of electronics and software.’ Accordingly, the service employees also have to be trained in this area so that they can carry out tasks such as remote maintenance of machinery and perform upgrades or updates – especially on hydraulic control systems or control software for equipment.
One service being requested more and more by customers is advice relating to optimising the mixing room. ‘Minimising operating costs and improving energy efficiency are issues that are occupying the manufacturers to an ever greater extent,’ says Jenne. ‘If necessary, our service teams advise customers on how existing systems can be modernised and optimised or tell them when it may be worth replacing their equipment with new and more efficient technology.’
The Equipment Life Cycle Indicator
To avoid unplanned downtimes and identify the necessary replacement of worn components or entire machines in good time, the HF MIXING GROUP has developed the Equipment Life Cycle Indicator, or ELCI for short. This is a recording, evaluation and documentation system for the maintenance and service history of a machine, which the HF MIXING GROUP service team offers as part of corresponding maintenance agreements. By recording, evaluating and documenting everything, the wear behav‑ iour of the machine can be tracked, making it possible to calculate in advance the remaining life of working parts – the so-called core components – on the internal mixer in particular. This gives customers much greater certainty when planning the next scheduled maintenance session, replacing parts or carrying out a general overhaul, but also in terms of being able to plan the corresponding investment budget and time needed at an early stage.
The HF MIXING GROUP service team consists of a total of 35 to 40 technicians based in Freudenberg, Rochdale, Castellanza, Ansonia and Topeka, plus ten to 15 employees at the HF MIXING GROUP’s own service bases. It is made up of engineers, mechanics, welders, mecha‑ tronics technicians, electronics engineers and hydraulics and software specialists. There are also employees from local external service partners. Reinhard Jenne sums up the service team’s motto and customer promise as follows: ‘Whatever happens, whenever you call, wherever you are – you can count on us.’