Customer service is a big part of manufacturing packaging machinery, and the Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (PMMI) recently found that less than 50% of end users were satisfied with the number and availability of knowledgeable service technicians. While packaging machinery manufacturers are surely responsible for part of this low level of satisfaction, the technology behind packaging machinery and expectations also serve to keep the number of end users satisfied with service low.
As technology improves, the role of a service technician necessarily changes. While service technicians have historically played the role of a mechanic, expectations now require much more than just these skills. Computers and PLC's play a larger role in packaging machinery today than they ever have before. In addition, customers expect to find a company today to integrate different packaging machinery from a number of manufacturers. These two simple expectations completely redefine "knowledgeable" as used for a service technician.
Imagine a packaging line that consists of a power conveyor system, bottle unscrambler, liquid filling machine, capping machine and a wrap labeler. In almost all cases, there will be multiple machine manufacturers, in some cases a different manufacturer for each individual piece of equipment. When it comes time to install the packaging machinery for the end user, the job will likely fall to a single manufacturer or a company that specializes in the installation of packaging machinery. In other words, there will not be five separate technicians at the installation in most cases, but rather one or two installers from a single company. It logically follows, then, that the technician must understand not only the packaging machinery manufactured by his or her own company, but all of the packaging machinery on the line. In essence, the definition of "knowledgeable" has just expanded by about a factor of five.