When there is trouble with your print finishing equipment, it is very tempting to take the easy way out when trying to make the repair. The title of this blog post is a line uttered by the character, Pippin Took, in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. He is warning his friends that taking a shorter, but more treacherous, path is the wrong solution to avoid other dangers in their journey. This post touches on some shortcuts that can be perilous when it comes to print finishing machine maintenance.
Non-certified (Grey Market) Spare Parts
Let’s face it, manufacturer-certified spare parts are often seen as expensive. And, sometimes the manufacturer or OEM supplier is out of stock. To save money up front or shortcut delivery lead times, it’s tempting to go to other spare part sources, i.e., “the grey market.” Although grey market parts promise a low upfront cost, they are often not a good solution. Here’s why:
- Not guaranteed to function with your equipment.
- Carry no support by the supplier.
- May require specialized configuration or programming to function, particularly when dealing with electrical parts. (What good is a replacement PLC with no program?)
The rates for factory certified service technicians for print finishing equipment are not the cheapest out there. And, sometimes the service agency won’t have a technician available for several days. That’s when lower rates by outside service organizations or independents become very attractive. The pitfalls of hiring outside help?
- Might not be trained on the intricacies of your equipment, so more time is needed to solve the problem.
- Do not have access to factory level support and knowledge.
- Often don’t stand behind a solution. (So, you’re left with a machine that doesn’t run properly—and their bill for time and expenses.)
There are certain warnings that are displayed by your equipment that may seem benign. Lubrication or temperature warnings may seem like things to ignore for the time being because you have production numbers to meet. But these warnings are there for a reason: an engineer designed them to signal immediate or impending trouble. Even though warnings do not force a shutdown of the machine, they are there to protect against larger failures in the future.
By-passing Safety Circuits
Believe it or not, technical support people are often asked by customers if they can by-pass a safety circuit “just to get the job out.” It should go without saying that this form of shortcut is both dangerous and potentially costly. A quick fix can lead to unforgiveable consequences down the road. Bottom line? Operator safety should never be compromised. Financial liability, not to mention your company’s integrity, far outweighs any advantage you will gain.
So, please, resist the temptation to try a shortcut. Because what appears to be a low cost, quick solution ends up being no solution at all.