The slogan "Better to plan ahead than to stand still for a long time" is something that all our customers around the world should take to heart. But it is truer for no other continent than for Africa, for which I have been responsible as Muller Martini's Regional Sales Director for more than a decade.
Proactively ensuring that their saddle stitchers, perfect binders, hardcover booklines and newspaper inserting systems are in good shape is particularly important for African printers and finishing companies for one reason. Because many countries can only be traveled to with a visa and the current travel restrictions due to the corona pandemic create additional challenges, it is not uncommon for it to take at least two weeks before a technician from the press manufacturer is on site in the event of damage. If things go badly, the machine can even be at a standstill for a whole month or even longer.
To ensure that this does not happen, Muller Martini has three service arrows in its quiver for its African customers.
Many modern production systems...
- Firstly, as part of our MMServices program, we offer preventive (keyword: plan in good time!) inspections and regular maintenance to ensure the highest possible machine availability.
- Secondly, we have agencies with highly trained technicians in numerous African countries. They are not only quicker on the spot when the going gets tough, but they also speak the same language as the customers. And they are very familiar with the customer's concerns and production systems (know your customer – and know his machines).
- Thirdly, the online connection of the machines via remote (directly from the Muller Martini plant) or telephone support via MMSupport helps us, against the background of visa regulations and impassable routes, to help our customers quickly and easily when problems arise. Instead of making arduous (and costly!) journeys, our specialists at the Muller Martini plants in Zofingen and Rahden look into the machine in Lagos, Djibouti or Addis Ababa and ensure that stitching or binding can be resumed quickly.
"Now remote is all well and good, but the online connection is only available for newer systems and in Africa it is probably older machines that are in operation", you might now object. Not so! Because in Africa – not least due to the so-called tender system, which sets clear rules for tendering procedures with public clients – government-owned or government-related graphic arts companies in particular often have state-of-the-art production systems.
If I tell you, for example, that in South Africa alone, between 50 and 60 million textbooks are printed and bound every year for various countries, you can well imagine that the latest machine technology is required for these quantities – with the corresponding remote connection so as not to jeopardize the usually tight deadline windows in the event of technical problems.
And yet you are not entirely wrong in your assumption. In fact, it has become more difficult for the private print store sector in many African countries – where long-term planning suffers anyway due to the pressure of day-to-day business – to obtain capital from banks for investments. This is because the graphic arts industry has long since ceased to be considered triple-A worthy by banks. In addition, printers and bookbinders often suffer from major exchange rate fluctuations.
...but also numerous older machines
As a result, many graphic arts companies have been producing with older machines for years – and therefore naturally have a corresponding need for service. With our MM
Services program, we extend the life cycle of existing machinery and increase its performance. Older controls and control terminals for which spare parts are no longer available should be replaced in good time – in line with the motto "better to act in good time than to react too late".
In the case of saddle stitchers, for example, this reduces the downtime to a predictable two days, whereas a reactive replacement of the control system in the event of damage can result in a saddle stitcher downtime of several weeks due to the complexity of the provision.
In order to enjoy optimum service performance, it is a great advantage (and of course this does not only apply to my African customers!) if you have your Bravo, Primera, Pantera or Acoro inspected and overhauled by service technicians from Muller Martini or from our local agencies, and not by some freelancers. This is because our service technicians are highly trained, know the Muller Martini machines inside out and can solve our customers' problems in the shortest possible time. Freelancers, on the other hand, usually have to get to know the machines first before they start their work.
MMInspect: a fantastic tool
A typical example of how our customers benefit from proactive intervention by our service technicians is South Africa. There, our local Muller Martini representative Thunderbolt Solutions performs more than a dozen machine inspections per year. Thunderbolt's service managers have completed training courses at Muller Martini plants, worked their way deep into the MMInspect program
and also know their way around older Kolbus models.
The experienced professionals show customers the benefits of MM
Inspect, which I think is a fantastic tool, and present them with the advantages of the Muller Martini service program and the fast delivery of original spare parts. After the inspection, the Thunderbolt technicians return to the customer with a detailed report on the condition of the machine and what they believe is needed in terms of spare parts, and discuss with them the measures to be taken to improve the machine performance.
Life Cycle Management...
In this respect, the same premise applies to our African customers as to graphic operations on the other continents: Targeted and structured life cycle management should maintain the return on investment (ROI) and ensure investment security. Muller Martini systems, are indeed durable – but over the years...
...and its four phases
- ...market requirements may change, requiring extensions or upgrades in the form of additional peripheral systems for the production of new print products.
- ...there are new technological developments, such as new types or grades of glue, for which the use of a nozzle system is recommended.
- ...the performance of a machine gradually decreases, which is why periodic maintenance and service work is called for in order to move as little as possible away from 100% startup performance.
Because we have the four life cycle phases
- Active: Machines are actively sold
- Secured: Series production has been discontinued – selected extensions are available
- Limited: Extensions are no longer available
- Obsolete: Extensions are no longer available
we are familiar with our customers' equipment and we know a great deal about its condition and functionality. However, in order to get an accurate picture, we recommend that our customers undergo a risk assessment by our specialists so that we can provide them with the best possible advice on our services and their business model.
Do you have any questions about the MM
Services program or the life cycle management of your finishing systems? Your local Muller Martini contact will be happy to help! However, you are also welcome to contact me
directly at any time.
Muller Martini Regional Sales Director Africa