In this difficult time caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, businesses are being forced to adapt. Business is not as usual, and as a medium-range machinery supplier, we at Manncorp and our customers have come to appreciate the benefits of remote services.
Free, remote services have always been included in our model. This allows the machines to be up and running faster, solving any difficulties that face a customer running a new machine, while also eliminating the time and expense of sending a technician. However, this recent crisis has led to our team brainstorming some innovative new ideas.
As on-site staff is reduced across the nation, exceptional customer service has become necessitated. How we are meeting this high demand is by providing new training videos, direct contact with customer service representatives, and real-time help through TeamViewer.
Our videography team has been producing new videos that walk the viewer through the mechanical and software set-up of our machines. These videos cover information on pick-and-place machines, stencil printers, reflow ovens, and even our AOI machines for self-installations; they also demonstrate how to attach accessories and remove shipping brackets. We even have tutorials on how to make time-saving programs, create vision files, and program a feeder.
Having done remote installations of our AOI machines for years has allowed us to fluidly adapt under the current conditions. The addition of videos and the advancement of instant-help technology has allowed us to go further. If the videos do not provide everything a customer may need, our team of experts can access the machine through screen controlling. This allows us to diagnose anything that may be going wrong and apply a solution in real-time. In some cases, spare parts may be needed, and we can ship them overnight, allowing for a quick fix.
Customers who use SMT equipment often wear many hats at their company. With this in mind, we have designed resources to help any customer set up and run a high-functioning machine. If needed, our senior tech can remotely train customers at a mutually ideal time. This training covers important subjects such as creating a file for each component, detecting problems like wrong parts, and ensuring correct orientation and sufficient solder paste.
Too often, an SMT line functions at only 40–50% of its capacity. But we know that if each machine is optimized for speed and correct placement, that average can be increased drastically. By solving common problems, more people can reap the benefits of their initial investment.
Common issues we see are:
- Incorrect programming of vision files or general programming issues for pick-and-place machines
- Board support issues, incorrectly programmed squeegee settings, or simply not having a high-quality stencil in the stencil printer
- A lack of training on correct profiling in the reflow oven
By interacting with knowledgeable staff members and watching our videos, customers can experience quick solutions. The result will be a high yield from the whole line-up. Without defects occurring, costs will be lowered, and fewer boards will be wasted. Through phone support or chat directly on a machine’s computer monitor, we can offer more specific advice.
We have interacted with many companies dedicated to directly fighting the COVID-19 crisis. Northwestern University, who is working closely with Sibel Medical—a manufacturer of remote monitoring systems—is one of our most recent customers. Their remote monitoring systems have been identified by the U.S. FDA as critical technologies in the battle against the epidemic. These systems provide ICU-grade measurements of heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, and blood oxygenation levels through a wireless, wearable format.
After the installs at Northwestern University, fine-tuning of the equipment was required, and we were able to conduct these services remotely. The results were so positive that the university has decided to order a second production line.
Serving companies and organizations that are critical to our national infrastructure is crucial during this difficult time, and many customers are involved in government and military work. Most recently, we helped a contractor in Minnesota working for Naval Surface Warfare Center IHEODTD—a key component of the Defense Industrial Base.
When working with military contractors, personnel are often unable to enter facilities, and the organizations require remote contact alternatives. Working with companies housing sensitive information or hazardous products is one way that remote service will continue to be necessitated even after the stay-at-home order is lifted.
This is what we are doing at Manncorp. Hopefully, by hearing about our methods, other companies can develop their own solutions for remotely helping their customers. We urge companies in a position like ours to implement virtual or remote servicing methods in an effort to meet government guidelines. When this crisis has passed, businesses will open again, and it will be due to those who have done the vital work to keep things going in the meantime.
Editor’s note: Written by Emmalee Gagnon with technical expertise from Chris Ellis. This column originally appeared in the May 2020 issue of SMT007 Magazine.