“Our branch offices and nearby service bases facilitate communication with customers regarding complex projects,” says Jochen Pfeil, Head of the Services division at Vecoplan AG. The company is one of the leading suppliers of machinery and equipment to process primary and secondary raw materials for thermal and material recycling. “We can use this approach to implement the best possible solutions for our customers,” explains the Vecoplan expert.
Besides Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom, Italy now also has a Vecoplan service base. Over the years, Vecoplan has built up a large installed base in that country. Until recently, it relied on a distributor to look after its customers. “However, the demand for reliable service continued to increase,” says Pfeil. “So we decided to improve our well-known service and make spare parts available faster.”
To shorten its response times, the Westerwald-based company has now opened an independent service and sales office in Ferrara, in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. The facility, which has an area of about 500 square metres, also includes a workshop. This offers adequate space for working on entire machines. In the future, Vecoplan’s specialists will also weld special components like rotors. The service team currently consists of five employees who know the country and the market inside out. Besides being experts in mechanical and electrical engineering, they are trained in work with machine control units and are always up to date with know-how. “This means they know the machines better than any service partner,” says Vecoplan expert Pfeil. “What’s more, they are available locally. In the past, we had to send employees from Germany to Italy when there were complex problems. This was not always in keeping with customer requirements.” The team includes a service manager for coordination and an independent sales representative. Vecoplan will continue to expand its team as needed. And if the Italian branch does not have enough manpower to handle a problem, trained service partners can provide support.
Italian customers also benefit from a consistent supply of spare parts. A service warehouse with all the standard spare and wear parts is currently being established. This will enable Vecoplan to supply its Italian customers directly from Ferrara instead of from Germany, as in the past. Such deliveries sometimes took a long time, and the current problems with supply chains have made this worse. “The new warehouse will enable us to increase the availability of our machines and plants,” explains Pfeil. The Westerwald company also offers special service agreements to respond to customers’ needs. These agreements give customers guaranteed response times or include inspection and maintenance packages to increase the availability of their machinery and equipment.
“The Italian market is greatly in need of such speed and reliability,” says Pfeil. “That’s because it’s a little different from other markets in Europe.” Although speed and reliability are important throughout the world, Vecoplan has found that these factors mean even more to Italian users. This applies in particular to machine downtimes. About 90 percent of such machines are used for the production of recyclates, and a smaller percentage are used for processing waste wood. With both of these applications, high availability is essential. Every minute in which a machine cannot run costs money.
Vecoplan’s employees in Italy are also trained in the use of the Vecoplan Smart Center (VSC), the company’s advanced digitalisation solution. VSC.connect is a modern communication interface between Vecoplan and its customers. It includes services like document management and remote service. The integrated, intuitive VSC.control operating panel serves as a communication medium for the machine’s control system and a live link to Vecoplan technicians. “Our service employees can use it to solve most problems remotely,” explains Pfeil. “We can look over the shoulder of the customer’s service technician on site when he uses a camera or data glasses – then we help him to solve the problem step-by-step. Our specially developed service tutorials also help the customer optimally prepare for the machine’s maintenance procedure.”
Vecoplan keeps a very close eye on markets like Italy. The company’s goal is to have a strong presence where it has operated successfully for many years. “For this purpose we observe the market in each country in order to respond to its unique requirements,” says Pfeil. Vecoplan’s pan-European presence has simultaneously created space for growth.