New Fabrication Technologies Require an Equipment Partner

Shirley Segev
October 4, 2018
COMMERCIAL, FABRICATION

Success with a new technology depends on collaboration, and finding the right partner is almost as important as identifying the right equipment. Adding an innovative offering is not just about making room on the production floor for a new machine. It’s about adding new skills, building a market, creating demand. 

For early adopters, the journey can be challenging. As such, it should not be navigated alone. Rather, savvy glass fabricators should require the technology supplier to help every step of the way. In fact, a commitment to partnership should be a key criterion in choosing any new technology supplier. 

While every company defines partnership differently, there are five key criteria that can help fabricators determine if a technology company they are considering is merely a supplier or is destined for collaboration.

1. Go for great innovation and proven technology. 

Most importantly, start with the technology itself. Look for a truly innovative solution that fulfills a clear need for the business. This can be an immediate customer demand or future growth opportunity. 

Next, the fabricator should explore other crucial elements about the company itself. For example, does it have proven experience, preferably in the fabricator’s vertical and geographic markets? Does it continue to innovate while including older solutions in the process? Fabricators don’t want their new equipment to quickly become obsolete. What about ease-of-use and maintenance? 

2. Expect an understanding of the fabricator’s business and market. 

To help a fabricator succeed with a new technology, the equipment partner must understand the fabricator’s business, as well as their market. This begins in the purchase process, as they work with the customer to pinpoint the exact solution from within their portfolio that best suits the business’s needs. Then, once installed, it’s just as important that they’re able to help the fabricator best market the new acquisition and its abilities. 

For example, if a fabricator is making a first-time purchase of a digital glass printing machine, the fabricator will want to introduce this option to existing customers, as well as attract new clients in new markets. The equipment partner will help the fabricator position the new offering with existing clients and better define the fabricator’s wider market. This includes what potential clients are looking for, where else they might look for such a solution, and the type of information they need in order to choose the fabricator.

3. Talk with successful users. 

At the bare minimum, a fabricator should request testimonials about working with the company and its technology, as well as resulting improvements to overall business and workflow. Even better, fabricators can ask for a live meeting and/or demonstration at a busy customer’s site. That way company owners and managers can see the technology in action. Plus, a site visit will likely trigger more questions as they learn and watch. 

4. Demand end-to-end support.

Expect more than “buy and goodbye.” A partner should be around for the long haul, with 360-degree support. A partner should help a fabricator guide their team with multi-disciplinary onsite training, and they should be able to help a customer build a dedicated new team around the new technology, with the right skills and personnel. While the partner isn’t expected to do all the work for the customer, they should be teaching the fabricator and enabling key staff throughout the product life cycle. 

Long after installation, the partner must remain easily accessible and provide the fabricator with spare parts, technical support, graphic support, marketing support, and ready-to-use tools (like brochures, video clips and presentations). Beyond that, the partner should literally stand by the customer, participating in joint events, offering its experts to address the fabricator’s audience together, and working to increase exposure within their greater network.

5. Look for local support. 

Most companies will offer some form of support, but for a new technology installation, local presence is a huge advantage. That means, if a fabricator is based in the United States, they should look for a company based in, or with a subsidiary in, North America and professional support staff on its payroll over those with only third-party representation. Why? Because a local in-house team will be trained and dedicated to deliver the company’s extra values. Plus, a local company or subsidiary will have the accessibility and expertise a customer will require along the way. 

Shirley Segev is marketing manager of Dip-Tech, a Ferro company, digital printing on glass. She can be reached at shirley.segev@ferro.com.