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Heidelberg's Uli Koehler talks about their service organization

Published on October 12, 2012

Patrick Henry speaks with Heidelberg Senior Vice President Uli Koehler about their service organization, how they use it to support their customers, as well as details on how the market changes have impacted service operations.

Pat Henry: This is Pat Henry, WhatTheyThink, and with us today is Uli Koehler. Uli is a Senior Vice President, Service Heidelberg. Uli works out of Heidelberg's U.S. headquarters in Kennesaw, Georgia. Welcome Uli.

Uli Koehler: Thank you, Patrick.

Pat Henry: I know that Heidelberg has a rather extensive service organization, but some of our viewers might not be acquainted with it. Can you give us the quick tour? How many techs do you have? Where are they located? How do your customers find them when they need them?

Uli Koehler: Okay, thank you. Heidelberg USA, we are organized in four regional offices besides our support center in Kennesaw, Georgia. Nationwide, we have more than 360 people dedicated to help our customers with their service needs, back office functions, but also boosting power in our field service force. Our field service colleagues, they are all factory trained. We have more than 280 people out there in the field, close to our customers in those four regional regions organized. And besides that, more important is also our spare part supply. We have that nationwide warehouse in Indianapolis. We are connected to that worldwide logistic center in the regional factory. The fill rate out of our American logistic center in Indianapolis is around about 96% of all the line items that we get as an order, we are able to deliver the same day. And then whatever will be needed will be flowing either from the world logistic center in Germany, or we are connected also to the Asian logistic center out of Hong Kong or out of Japan.

Pat Henry: That's quite a team on the ground, quite a logistics operation. Now, again, as I understand it, your service plans are divided into two broad areas. You've got one plan for new equipment, and you have got another plan for equipment that passes out of warranty but still has a lot of useful life. What are those programs?

Uli Koehler: That's correct Patrick. System service 36 plus, we call it. With our new machines, we secure the investment of our customers with an extensive program to make sure that the equipment is well maintained. And within this program, we cover the labor and the spare part supply within 36 months. The first 36 months of the lifetime of the press. This project, I want to call it, helped us tremendously to change also the mindset of our customers. Before, back in 2004-2005, we spent only about 5% of our total workload in preventive services. In the meantime, due to that program this has tremendously changed. In the meantime, we have 40-45% of our total workload dedicated to preventive actions, which of course helps, again, to keep up time high.

Pat Henry: Now, preventive maintenance requires the customer's active participation, does it not?

Uli Koehler: That's true. The customer still has the weekly, the monthly, the six-month work to do according to the operation manual. But on top of that, we come preventive to shops after 10 months, 20 months, and 30 months.

Pat Henry: Oh, okay, in intervals, yeah.

Uli Koehler: Yes, in intervals. To go through the whole machine according to checklists and replace then also necessary wear and tear parts that come to the end of their lifetime.

Pat Henry: Excellent. Well, one consideration I believe you do have in light of the fact that press sales are down, equipment sales are down for everyone, Heidelberg, all of the major manufacturers. And that means that there is equipment out there that probably should have been replaced by now but hasn't been, older equipment needing more care. I just wonder how that impacts the service operation.

Uli Koehler: As a matter of fact, our service workload during the last three-four years is still consistent. And so we didn't have a drop like we experienced on the equipment sales side, which is really true. More important is also that we used, let's say the capacity that we don't need for installations to develop more and more programs which help our customers to bring their productivity up, to train their operators, to improve their OEE like we call it. And definitely with those proactive investments from our side to train our operators, our printers to help the operators of our customers to reduce waste, to optimize their output. We have here, nice programs in place. And more and more customers may also use, out of those programs, and this keeps us busy on that level that we need to be still reactive if necessary, but also let's say, secure our utilization with those additional performance services, we call them.

Pat Henry: Excellent. Pat Henry, WhatTheyThink, thank you for watching.

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