Over the course of 2019, we saw a 20% increase in the number of customers installing LogiKal CNC links with us, bringing the total number of machine links we have completed in the UK to somewhere over 130. Last year, many of the links were for fabricators getting into the aluminium market for the first time, but most were existing LogiKal users who were looking to automate more of their processes, either to increase their efficiency or in response to the current shortage of skilled CNC operators.
The aim for many, of course, is to de-skill the operator role as much as they can so that less training and experience is required on the shop floor, and that makes perfect sense given that the skills shortage is probably most acute in fabrication.
The growth in spending has obviously been great news for machinery and software companies and BM Aluminium had another record year in 2019. But, my sense last year was that too many fabricators were still ordering new machines without consulting us at all beforehand. We are entirely independent and have absolutely no vested interest in promoting one machine or machinery company over another, but we are vastly experienced in setting up CNC machines and we know that our help and advice can be really valuable to fabricators of any size.
We are definitely not looking to encroach upon our customers’ own territories; we are simply keen to demonstrate how they can get more value from us as their software partner and benefit from our free, independent advice.
Dan Hodges and Perry Mace, our Implementation Managers, are now a formidable team when it comes to installing software. When customers involve us in the decision making process early on, Dan and Perry can go to visit them, talk about what they are looking to achieve and then recommend the best options to suit their specific factory set ups.
As well as ensuring that the installation of any machine they do choose is properly scheduled and coordinated so that we are primed and ready to organise the software links as soon as it is installed, they can also ensure that customers are fully informed if they are thinking of ordering a machine which we can’t actually link to in LogiKal yet.
With several newer, largely budget entrants coming into the machinery sector now, we have had a couple of occasions recently where fabricators have been disappointed to learn that the lower purchase cost might actually turn out to be a false economy.
As the trend towards automated CNC links looks set to continue into 2020, we have recently reviewed the set up package we offer to customers and are now offering both standard and added value options.
The standard option gives customers two days of onsite installation support from a BM Aluminium technician, while the added value alternative replaces the second day onsite with an extended remote session a week or so later. With a remote session priced at just 20% of the cost of an onsite installation day, this represents a significant potential saving for fabricators.
The main reason for introducing the second remote training day was because it gives fabricators the chance to work with the machine for a few days and draw up their own list of niggles and queries which we can then resolve for them either on the phone or via TeamViewer once they are up and running. It’s an efficient way of doing things and the fact that it works out cheaper is an added bonus.
Customers can obviously choose whichever option suits them best though and we can provide advice and support throughout the process.