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Ron Hoffman

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Six Ways Outsourced Maintenance Saves

A Proactive Service Support

Published: Friday, April 9, 2010 - 12:38

With today’s limited internal resources, it’s tough to transform machine maintenance from reactionary to preventive, and ultimately proactive, despite the obvious upsides in higher overall equipment efficiency (OEE), better process control, and lower total cost. Outsourcing this requirement to a third-party specialist, however, is a cost-effective alternative, according to companies that have crunched the numbers.

Manufacturers of all sizes—from single plant to multiplant and multinational—can benefit from outsourced maintenance to achieve world-class productivity and competitiveness. There are six primary areas where a single-source maintenance partner can optimize the capital investment and provide cost savings through lower total cost of ownership and increased return on investment.

Application support

Machine tool experts can analyze the tasks assigned to each machine and provide recommendations on process improvements, cycle-time reduction strategies, proper cutting tools, and work-holding configurations to optimize machine usage and performance, and reduce work in process, setup times and costs per part.


Knowledge is power, and knowledgeable operators are key to maximizing the production power of your machines. Ensuring your personnel are trained on the latest operation and maintenance developments and techniques is critical to getting the most out of your machine tools. Training can be individualized and conducted online for further cost savings.

Service support

When a machine goes down it immediately transforms from income generator to an expense. Timely service support is the key to getting the machine back on line and making parts. At times when on-site maintenance is cost- or time-prohibitive, interactive tech support, via video, voice, and data communications over a standard phone line, can quickly diagnose problems remotely for faster service and less downtime.

Preventive maintenance

Knowing what areas of the machine need preventive maintenance, and what level is cost-effective, are part of the support partner’s holistic services. A supplier that has wide experience with many makes and kinds of machine tools will know the typical service life of various components and potential weak spots or problem areas with certain designs. This enables closer monitoring, trend tracking, and appropriately scheduled maintenance to prevent costly downtime. Also, coordinated “ganging” of service to multiple machines can produce significant economies of scale.

Machine monitoring

Trends in production monitoring are moving rapidly from machine-level to process-level intelligence, and real-time performance management from a service/support partner can optimize equipment utilization for greater manufacturing efficiency, productivity, and return on investment. Computer-enabled data collection tools identify and resolve out-of-cycle events as they are happening, and provide interactive, on-demand reporting of production equipment availability, utilization, and performance.

Spindle replacement

For plants operating high-volume machining systems, such as automotive, the service/support partner can take complete responsibility for spindle inventory and replacement, often working with a third-party spindle reconditioner for new or rebuilt units, reducing turnaround time to hours, instead of days. At the same time, small-volume, high-value part manufacturers can’t afford to let the huge overhead of a giant gantry machine (both physically and financially speaking) sit dormant, making fast response to spindle or gear box replacement needs, and other major repairs critical.

Bonus: machine certifications and more

Service and support partners can also assist with machine certifications after a relocation or in-plant reassignment. This may include inspection of axis alignment, coolant/lube systems, tool changers, and automation, as well as laser calibration, ball bar testing, and axis alignment. The goal is to ensure the machine meets or exceeds original equipment manufacturer specs, and can make quality parts per the program or contract requirements and quality standards such as ISO 9001.

A support partner can also provide consultation on control retrofits, mechanical rebuilds, and machine reassignments—analyzing the benefit to productivity and the effect on operations the changes may have. This allows you to see the big picture and thoroughly understand the condition of the equipment before investing in updating, rebuilding, or relocating it.

Working with a single-source maintenance provider is an economical way to ensure you are getting the most from your machines, operating at your highest possible efficiency, and poised to handle changes to, and adaptations for, future operations.


About The Author

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Ron Hoffman

Ron Hoffman is the vice president and general manager of MAG. MAG is a leading machine tool and systems company serving the durable-goods industry worldwide with complete manufacturing solutions. The company offers a comprehensive line of equipment and technologies including process development, automated assembly, turning, milling, automotive powertrain production, composites processing, maintenance, automation and controls, and core components. Key industrial markets served by these technologies include aerospace, automotive and truck, heavy equipment, oil and gas, rail, solar energy, wind turbine production and general machining.