Get the services you need

You're one of five people in a lifeboat. It's about 20 miles to shore. There's a leak.... Working together, you may find the group has enough resources to bail and row, get to land, and make the needed repairs. Doing so requires trust, communication, cooperation, and more than a little faith in each other's abilities to handle unforeseen circumstances.

06/01/2001


You're one of five people in a lifeboat. It's about 20 miles to shore. There's a leak....

Working together, you may find the group has enough resources to bail and row, get to land, and make the needed repairs. Doing so requires trust, communication, cooperation, and more than a little faith in each other's abilities to handle unforeseen circumstances.

What about weather? What about sharks? What about available resources on shore?

After quickly assessing the situation, it might be better to first ask if someone in the boat has a working mobile phone and a number to call for help.

How's the 2002 budget and planning going at your place, especially as it relates to automation investments and services? Are you sharing information with, cooperating with, and having faith in others in and beyond your organization to help do this?

With U.S. manufacturing output down seven consecutive months through April, it's more critical than ever to collaborate with various teams within and beyond your organization. Your role is to help maximize value from investments in automation, instrumentation, and controls and recognize where it makes sense to integrate those investments with the enterprise and supply chain.

Beyond 120 days

This month's cover article, "Global Technical Support," advises how to get the most for your money with customer services. As senior editor Dave Harrold points out, "Most of the suppliers responding to Control Engineering's request for support service information indicated they offer users a variety of support service packages, often free for the first 90 to 120 days."

Beyond that, you need to make sure you get exactly what you need. An extensive table details what to expect and what to ask about supplier support service offerings.

Control Engineering research findings—mailed with this issue in a sponsored supplement and available online—show respondents' concerns and expectations about a specific automation project, its upgrades, and services.

How do you rate?

How do these results and others compare to your and your colleagues' expectations? Among users responding to the customer support survey:

  • Nearly 90% of users say they must keep systems current to receive supplier support, obtain bug fixes, and implement product enhancements;

  • 77% like remote diagnostics;

  • 75% of systems (hardware and software) are current or one revision behind the supplier's current release;

  • 67% seek resolution in 8 hours or less;

  • Nearly 60% prefer an unlimited annual service contract and few expect free service;

  • 36% say suppliers should support the current and two past major software revisions; and

  • 23% declare a need for the supplier to support five past software revisions.

I'm not going to elaborate on the findings. For more, take a look at the cover story and the supplement to this issue.

You might find that sharing these findings with others could increase your chances of safe passage in the "boatload" of services now supporting your automation, controls, and instrumentation.

Mark T. Hoske, Editor-in-Chief mhoske@cahners.com





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