February 15, 2016 // Keith Crews
Full Circle - Repair or Replace
This past week two events happened at Pioneer that affirms our commitment to the customer and the long term value and proves the point that in business what is good for the customer is ultimately good for the company. Sometimes when you engage in a business that is service driven you are faced with the dilema of whether to replace an older piece of equipment or rebuild. Often rebuilding a truck scale is a labor intensive endeavor. It is neither easy nor is it inexpensive; often it questions one's sanity. However it a truck scale still has good structural integrity and parts are readily available rebuilding is often economically the best option.
"Make a customer, not a sale." ~ Katherine Barchetti
Outstanding Service & Support
In 2003, our company began a service relationship with a large natural gas mid-stream pipeline company on one of its pumping facilities in North Central Texas. The facility had an older cap check Mettler Toledo hip type full load cell truck scale that at the time was more than 15 years old. Poor service combined with several different scale companies adding their spin to how a scale should be wired had left the scale with a constant issue with load cells going out due to power surges and electrical transients issues. We were invited with 5 other companies to bid the replacement of the scale with new equipment. The customer called us because of our reputation in the area.
I am proud to say that Pioneer Scale was the only company invited to bid on a new scale to question "why" they were getting rid of a scale that appeared to have plenty of live left in it. When the scale was operational it weighed correctly and consistently in all but one section. Upon further inspection it was found that one of the top caps and the load cell with that cap was severely misaligned (probably from an earlier repair). Our recommendation to the customer was to repair and rewire instead of replacing the scale. On Aug 27, 2003 we pulled all of the electronics with the exception of the load cells and replaced the wiring and summing with Cardinal Scale's ICAN digital summing junction boxes. In the following 13 years Pioneer calibrated the scale 4 times per year and during that time only 2 of the original load cells were replaced and the indicator was replaced in 2015. Many new scales have more issues during the first five years.
Has Service been abandoned?
Last month we were called out to similar situation where a very old Digitol Scale needed to be replaced. That is what the current company servicing the customer told them, "The parts are no longer available and we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the scale". Lucky for this customer in the paper waste recycling business they wanted a second opinion because they didn't have the capital to replace a $75,000 piece of equipment. Upon inspection we found that the issues plaguing the scale and keeping it from weighing properly were foundation issues which had nothing to do with the scale and 2 bolts broken on the longitudinal bumper assemblies at each end of the scale. Not an easy repair but nothing near the cost of replacing the scale. After installing a rental truck scale with steel ramps the old scale was removed from the foundation and repairs were made. The customer made the decision to retrofit the scale with a direct replacement of the load cells manufactured by Rice Lake. After repairing the poor wiring, changing the load cell and summing junction boxes the scale was returned to service for less than half of the cost and the life remaining in the scale is estimated to be 15-20 years.
The net result from both of these cases was the problem experienced by the customer had nothing to do with their equioment, it was poor service. Experience counts when it comes to providing long term care to weighing equipment. Many companies fail to value that experience. Pioneer Scale continues to be a company that is built on customer service first and foremost. There is never a guarantee that a scale will last forever but rebuilding a good piece of equipment should always be considered when considering replacement. Its just good business sense.
Yesterday afternoon we closed on a new Cardinal Armor truck scale with the natural gas mid-stream pipeline company. They had another bid that was significantly lower in price compared to the Cardinal. After meeting with their team and discussing the advantages of the Cardinal in service and life time expected service cost savings they bought the scale from Pioneer. They said the main reason that they went with our company was "trust" because of our continued excellent service. Nothing else could make us any prouder.
Taking care of the customer