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Thinking Ahead − The Benefits of a Service-Centric Approach in Food Plants

When configuring a plant, predictive planning is always crucial to maintain efficient processes over a long period. Therefore, Coperion makes sure to include the service team in the early stages of any project.

We asked our colleagues Wim Sarens, Team Leader of Field Service and Steven Hiel, Sales Engineer for the food industry, both from the Benelux region, how this can be achieved in food plants and how customers benefit from a service-centric approach.

Steven, in which cases do you involve your service colleagues and why?

Steven: Every customer and project is different, which also applies in the service requirements. We, at Coperion, have set the goal to cater to these needs, and offer our expertise whenever it is needed. Some customers take care of the maintenance work completely by themselves, while others collaborate closely with system integrators. Depending on the customer’s service philosophy, our experts can give recommendations and training or offer a dedicated service plan which involves implementation, maintenance, modernization, or the provision of spare parts.

Wim: Besides that, Coperion’s service team is of course able to assist with the implementation of the plant or installation of new units. In this connection, we regularly check parameters of the newly installed systems and work closely with the customer’s operators and the project managers. In our experience, communication is key. Steven and our team always make sure to share all relevant details, possible challenges, and unique requirements with us – this usually ensures a smooth installation process. Generally, service and spare parts availability are a very sensitive topic for our partners as it has a direct impact on both their operational performance and their finances. That is why we usually address every option that may have a positive effect on the customer’s operations. In some projects, this may be a consignment stock and in other cases we may recommend our industry 4.0 platform C-BEYOND – e.g. when the plant operator pursues a digitalization strategy and wishes to make use of machine data in the most effective way.

Coperion offers a replacement program. What does it entail and how does it fit into this service-centric approach?

Steven: When it comes to spare parts, we offer various options and help to find the most suitable solution for the customer. Depending on the size of the plant, we may recommend setting up an overhaul contract with a fixed annual price. In this case, we make sure to have spare parts on hand at our warehouse in Belgium – especially those with long lead times. Alternatively, the customer may decide to buy entire spare units in advance. As part of a planned exchange program, our service technicians can assist with the installation of the spare unit and then overhaul the e.g. rotary valves that have been in use in the plant at the Coperion workshop. This comes with a couple of advantages for the customer. Firstly, and most importantly, the customer benefits from more uptime in production. Secondly, fewer technicians are required at the customer site since the overhaul will take place at the Coperion workshop. Thirdly, the customer does not need to worry about the spare part management. We are in charge of spare part availability and storage.

Moreover, our customers have the option to work with us based on a service level agreement. This includes regular health checks of the complete installation, status reports, and recommendations for continuous improvements or predictive maintenance.

Wim: A planned approach is normally less stressful for both the operators and our technicians. And as Steven mentioned, downtime can quickly add up – especially with larger production lines. With our spare unit program, customers can win, for example, up to 6 hours of uptime per rotary valve or up to 24 hours with our extruder gearboxes. We have lots of experience and can make calculations based on the individual situation of the customer. This way, we can find a solution that is most beneficial for the customer in terms of costs.

How do you support projects when the customer opts for a maintenance approach without Coperion?

Wim: We always offer assistance during the start-up phase as well as comprehensive custom-made trainings to operators and/or technicians. For us it is very important to work closely with the operators and not only the project management teams. They are responsible for using the systems eventually and should be able to ask questions directly. In addition, we give recommendations regarding topics that may not be urgent during installation – for example, the benefits of an ATEX certificate and what it means in terms of inspection.

Steven: Generally, our goal is to offer as much flexibility as possible and to keep downtime to a minimum. Efficiency, safety, and economic operation are usually topics that keep our customers awake at night. Therefore, we place importance on offering our support over the entire life span of our equipment or systems. Our joint approach helps us to better serve our customer’s needs, offer the right expertise at the right time, and establish long-lasting partnerships.

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