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September 18th, 2023

FORTRESS TO THE RESCUE

Fortress Technology reveals its new ‘support-on-your-terms’ service packages. All designed to help eliminate machinery downtime and rescue food processors from production disruptions, in the simplest, most supportive and cost-effective way.

Each element of the UK support programme has been carefully devised to extend the lifespan of the entire Fortress metal detection, x-ray and checkweighing range by keeping machines in peak condition and sharing tips with Fortress customers to optimise performance of their inspection equipment. The new three-tiered training, support and maintenance packages could virtually eliminate emergency call outs, suggests the food safety specialist.

Rather than overcommitting to a contract that adds little to no business value, the new packages from Fortress instead offers different layers of support ranging from basic to comprehensive. This enables customers to define the individual level of cover on a machinery-by-machinery basis and pay for what is most beneficial for their inspection fleet and business needs.

Highlighting the advantages of this, Fortress Service Manager Chris Jones expands: “Food processors will frequently have business-critical inspection equipment that run 24/7, year-round, supplemented by seasonal metal detectors or checkweighers that may not warrant a comprehensive support package. In creating these bundled packages, customers can now cherry-pick the level support they want for a specific piece of kit, including legacy Fortress machines.”

THE VALUE OF PREVENTATIVE CARE

Unplanned downtime is, by its very nature, unpredictable. According to the International Society of Automation, it can account for up to five percent of lost production time. The worst affected can lose up to 20 percent.  Regardless, all lost time cannot be reclaimed. In production, it can create massive backlogs and put valuable retail contracts in jeopardy.

As robust and reliable as Fortress equipment is, no food production or inspection machine is infallible. The company’s new service contract and training packages are intentionally designed to boost resilience and assist customers to pre-empt a potential failure by maintaining production continuity and reduce the risk of lost profits when the machines are out of warranty.

“Well maintained equipment is less likely to break down. Resulting in increased uptime and much longer equipment working hours, fewer repair costs, and consequently, increased revenue,” flags Chris.

Manufacturers can select from three service contracts; Basic, Essential, and Comprehensive. Each provides at least one equipment validation/calibration visit that meets nationally recognised standards and current Codes of Practice.  The Comprehensive contract also includes a preventative maintenance review to flag potential part failures. Again, helping to minimise unplanned downtime.

Every level includes a pre-paid priority breakdown callout by a Fortress engineering expert. Avoiding the time-consuming process of sourcing a quotation and raising a purchase order. “This swift resolution alone will, in most instances, cover the cost of the annual service contract,” reports Chris.

With support being delivered by Fortress experts, the first time fix rate is much higher. Chris attributes this entirely to the service teams’ technical understanding of Fortress metal detectors, x-rays, checkweighers, conveyors and sensors, HMIs, reject, alarms and software.

The Essential and Comprehensive contracts also provide a 10% discount on all spare parts, as well as training to equip operators with enough technical knowledge, confidence and competency to troubleshoot issues and perform tasks more safely and effectively.

EMPOWERING SELF-SUFFICIENCY

Workplace productivity is equally dependent on competence and confidence. This is especially true on production lines.  Operators familiar with the equipment features and routine tasks, including setting up and testing new products, work more efficiently and accurately.

For audit purposes, team members should be trained by the machinery manufacturer rather than a third party, states Chris. “The content of our training packages covers all the essential food inspection audit requirements, including hygiene, failsafe routines and checks, production data, product testing and machine maintenance.”

Highlighting that a poorly-operated machine can cost a food processor just as much as one that has stopped, Chris expands: “Misuse or misunderstanding of equipment is frequently overlooked. However, this lack of knowledge can cause massive operational and performance issues. If the input data is incorrect or tests are failing, this can even compromise audits.”

Citing checkweighing as an example, Chris reports that in order to maintain compliance with Weights & Measures regulations and to minimise reject disruptions, operators frequently switch off the high weight range. “Overweight packages might not compromise a processor legally, but the giveaway by switching this parameter off quickly adds up. It could easily equate to half of the business revenue,” claims the Service Manager.

The new Fortress training packages follow a defined syllabus. This means every operative, quality manager and engineer is trained on-site, to the same level, using their equipment.

At the end of each course, trainees are tested and certified. “Every course has been structured so content shared at different intervals with production line staff is consistent. The ultimate goal is to reduce call outs for our customers to zero and equip teams with all the skills to resolve issues promptly, safely, and on the first attempt,” explains Chris.

Food processors can select the training level that suits their operational requirements, including Operator, Quality and Engineering. Discounts are available on the training bundles.

ALWAYS THERE WITH A SPARE

As part of the company’s Never Obsolete commitment, Fortress stocks all spare parts that customers may require. Additionally, to avoid downtime and shipping delays, customers can now purchase a Spare Parts Kits to hold on site. Providing processors with instant availability to parts that are more prone to routine wear, including components like belts and bearings, as well as critical and recommended parts.

Having these parts close to hand not only reduces call-out charges, but also minimises downtime costs, states Chris. “Realistically, customers only need to have a one full kit for each machine series – for example a Stealth Metal Detector – to know that they are supported and to avoid prolonged unplanned downtime.“

Listed in the Wear Kit are belts, bearings, keys, belt sprocket and splash guard. The Critical Parts Kit intentionally contains all the sensors, search head boards, motor and safety relays, as well as spare start and stop buttons, designed to keep conveyors running even if the inspection equipment is not functioning fully. Reducing downtime costs even further. The Recommended Parts Kit is the most comprehensive and includes all wear and critical spares, as well hinges, locks, relays, audio alerts, sensors and electrical breakers.

On-site engineers that have completed the new training program are better equipped to replace components as they understand how the machine works, notes Chris. “Even if technical helpdesk support or a service engineer site visit is required, the combination of trained, confident and competent staff, alongside the Fortress expertise, and having essential components on site, considerably reduces the guesswork and expediates the entire process.” The spare parts kits are discounted compared to buying individual items.

SUPPORT THE WHOLE WAY

The last piece of the service puzzle is the company’s new Technical Support Help Desk. Providing immediate support from the moment a call is logged, customers now benefit from a new ticket system, with absolutely no KPIs that aren’t totally aligned to customer satisfaction.

Dedicated to getting things right from the start, the helpdesk’s main objective is to de-escalate stressful situations. Going through a single support team helps. “Our service support team has a deep technical understanding of our equipment which allows us to provide market leading support to our customers. We have a real world understanding of the challenges faced by our customers during a downtime situation which allows us to support accordingly and work fast to find a solution to each issue,” explains Chris.

Every element of the support package has been carefully curated to unravel, pre-empt and fix issues with minimal disruption. Having a basic service contract provides additional assurance as it gives customers at least one pre-paid priority call-out each year.

For more information, visit https://fortresstechnology.co.uk/service/