We create pure added value for customers

Customer service is“lifecycle management” – intensive customer support throughout the life of the product

Customer Service is one of four business units in the Starrag Group. But in contrast to the machinery and equipment from the three operative business units, the Service product only matures when it reaches the customer. A special challenge for the over 300 specialists in this global business unit, for whom teamwork with the customer is part of everyday life.

“Just knowing how customer service works doesn’t achieve anything” claims marketing expert Axel Haitzer from Rosenheim. The message from the Bavarian lateral thinker, trainer, and author: “You have to feel and sense like a customer – then and only then can you delight customers.”

These words fit very well with the Starrag Group and their Claim: “Engineer- ing precisely what you value”. Customers can only receive exactly what they need and what is important to them if the service provider sees the complete pro- ject through the eyes of the customer. This is easy for the Starrag Group: The group uses its own machines and equip- ment and is therefore one of the regular customers of Customer Service.

The bandwidth of the business unit comprises a large number of services: In addition to the typical after-sales service (e.g. spare parts service, main- tenance, fault clearance, service contracts), these also include specialities such as the spindle service, geometric alignment, production monitoring or retrofitting. This is the job of over 300 highly motivated, globally-active employees with many man-years of experience and knowledge. At the heart there is a very powerful de-centralised “field service” with 150 technicians working on site with the customer. In ideal cases, “embedded service teams” are even located directly in the customer’s factories.

“Our team ensures the customers’ production levels by maintaining high, stable availability of Starrag machines,” explains Günther Eller, Head of the Customer Service business unit. “But at work there needs to be very close cooperation with regular contacts. This is because the Service product only starts to develop directly with the customer, and success stands or falls based on their involvement. ”More and more customers book a service at the same time as buying a Starrag machine tool: They are tapping into the significant knowledge of Starrag staff, something application support experts in several sectors have already experienced. Production accompaniment ranges from assistance in machining new, complex workpieces, programming customerspecific application cycles to support in developing a machining strategy. A regular customer of Starrag comments: “We aren’t just buying a machine, but a machining process.”

Customer Service is one of four business units in the Starrag Group. But in contrast to the machinery and equipment from the three operative business units, the Service product only matures when it reaches the customer. A special challenge for the over 300 specialists in this global business unit, for whom teamwork with the customer is part of everyday life.

Günther Eller, Head of the ‘Customer Service’ business unit at the Starrag Group: “As the Service product develops directly with the customers’ premises, its success stands or falls by their involvement.”

This is only one of the strengths of the Customer Service unit. According to Eller it sets itself apart with its holistic concepts, in which his colleagues accompany customers intensively across the whole product lifespan in the name of “lifecycle management”. In ideal cases, they work meshed closely together across several areas. This applies, for example, to fault resolution, teleservice and remote diagnostics. After a realtime analysis of the machine state, it’s time for the extensive remote service infrastructure to come into play. This assists the customer via the Internet, a technical hotline or what is known as “remote diagnosis”. Often, this very effective organisation can diagnose and resolve machine faults from afar. Should the “remote diagnosis” not achieve the desired result, the appropriate steps are taken – by deploying a mechanic or shipping a replacement part.


Spare parts service: Continuously optimised

Teamwork: : In the Weingarten factory, mechanical maintenance by Schuler and the Starrag Group’s Retrofit team has improved a 30-year old Wotan large boring machine in many vital respects.

Here the supply of spare parts becomes key, and these can be divided into three groups: original spare parts, compatible spare parts after the original equipment has expired and assembly replacement pools. In order to be close to customers all over the world, main and regional warehouses in Europe, Asia and North America along with logistics partners are able to supply customers directly. Eller: “We rely on sophisticated inven- tory management and highly profes- sional, pre-installed global logistics processes – instead of the usually not very helpful and expensive part stockpiling by customers.”

Take three: Strategies for spindle failures

For very special spare parts there is an extra service: This means motor spindles, since workpiece quality, productivity and safety rise and fall with their availability and reliability. The Starrag Group therefore not only develops and builds customised spindles, but complements them with a tailored, three-stage spindle revision including customised maintenance measures, collision protection systems and a replacement pool for motor spindles.

But some failures can be avoided in advance. Preventive maintenance is a growing trend, acting before any failures occur. “For example, there is a big increase in preventative annual maintenance with condition monitoring, which should definitely be carried out by our people because of the levels of experience and knowledge needed,” says Eller. “The successes can be measured: The number of unplanned outages and larger, avoidable faults reduces significantly, while reliability and productivity rise.” Proactive operations of this type can be planned within the framework of service contracts, which Starrag individually customises from standard service modules.

  • Spare parts supply
  • Teleservice and remote diagnostics
  • Service staff permanently on customer premises
  • Operator and maintenance training
  • Response time (depending on response time agreement)
  • Availability guarantee
  • Production support
  • Preventive maintenance, status-oriented maintenance
  • Warranty extension

Spindle revision: With customised maintenance measures, a collision protection system and a replacement pool for motor spindles, the Starrag Group is preparing for all situations.

But since service theory is a grey area, here is a practical example of a custom service contract, at the centre of which lies module 3 “permanent service presence on the customer’s premises”. A customer with approx. 50 Starrag machines has a strong team constantly on site: It takes care of training, condition monitoring, preventive maintenance and repair. In regular meetings, the on-site team discusses and plans with the customer all the measures that will be implemented, from machine revisions to complete retrofits. An example of how the machine availability and thus productivity can be increased in a stable and process-safe manner when working together with the customer.

Training: Help for self-help

An important building block for such service contracts is training staff to help themselves. Starrag offers, for example, professional personnel training in standard maintenance and machine operation. If that isn’t enough, extra training can be booked: The Advanced Application Training, for example, which is aimed at making the best possible use of machining centres. The focus is on increasing efficiency. The training covers the entire process chain – from the detailed task analysis (HSC or HPC) and process planning to the optimisa- tion of simultaneous 5-axis machining. Matthias Wimmers, Application Expert at Starrag Group, explains what this means with a practical example: “Thanks to ECOSPEED, one customer was able to cut the time needed to machine a complex aircraft component by 27 % to eight hours compared to the previous conventional machine. After optimising the entire process, the actual processing time only took two hours.” The Advanced Maintenance Training is just as well designed, focusing on building a solid, practically-trained maintenance crew.


Do it yourself: Thanks to Advanced ApplicationTraining, the user can optimise his machining centres on his own, to get maximum benefit from them.

The retrofit is a special service component that has developed into a successful service provision in the Starrag Group. Almost 50 specialists work in the Retrofit service at the Mönchengladbach site alone: The Starrag Group has its own construction department for machine modernisation. After creating the concept for the machine overhaul, the experts plan the retrofit and its sequence in detail together with the customer. The advantages of retrofitting in comparison to a new purchase are lower costs (usually 50 % lower), shorter delivery times (usually 60 % shorter) as well as rapid re-commissioning with significantly increased dynamism and productivity.

A particularly successful example occurred in a factory belonging to the machine tool manufacturer Schuler in Weingarten, Germany: Together with the customer’s mechanical maintenance, the retrofit team renewed an almost 30-year-old Wotan Rapid 6 large boring mill, on which components have to be machined very precisely. The maximum permissible deviation over the entire ten metre length (in the X-axis) is 60 μm. Many aspects of the Wotan that were critical from the operator’s point of view were modified. The large boring mill thus received a completely new bed saddle with a double pinion drive and two electronically tensioned drives. For Schuler, the key advantage of the Starrag Group was that “they weren’t just relying on the inventory documents, they were prepared to fundamentally consider the whole technical concept of the plant”. And this only works when Service thinks and feels like a customer.

Advanced ApplicationTraining