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Are you being served?

07 September 2019

If service is sacrificed in favour of price, particularly with regard to a critical resource such as a steam boiler, food processing facilities can find themselves facing delays and costs says Derek Parish, managing director at CFB Boilers. 

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Despite what some in the food industry may think, Parish believes that categorising a steam boiler as a commodity item is unrealistic. “A boiler used for process steam requires a carefully planned servicing routine to help maximise its working life. Additionally, servicing must take place at correctly specified intervals to ensure that food processing operations are not interrupted,” he said.

The same applies to technical support. Once a steam boiler has been installed and fitted engineers often have questions about how to optimise performance or change settings to suit a particular process. 

Unfortunately, when considering a new steam boiler, many food sector facilities do not think to enquire about issues such as the accuracy of lead times, the quality of servicing or the availability of aftersales support when buying a boiler for process steam. Instead, eyes are more often drawn to the price tag. And yet steam boilers are big investments, so food plant managers should not be seduced by a cheap initial price and should give more consideration to the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).

A notable recent example to demonstrate this argument involves a brewery in the London area which had a steam boiler installed by a leading manufacturer. However, the manufacturer subsequently told the brewery that it did not have sufficient capacity to service the boiler. As a result, the company was left to find its own servicing company, but this proved difficult. Although there are many gas engineers, few understand the workings of steam boilers. In the end, the company turned to CFB Boilers, which offered to step in with its in-house team of engineers, and now has a service contract for the boiler.

“The moral of this story is to always ask any potential steam boiler supplier for examples of previous installations. Request to see case studies and testimonials, and perhaps talk to existing customers, or even visit them. By adopting this strategy, it will be possible to enquire about factors such as lead-times, response to technical queries, maintenance support and so on, directly from those who have used the product and, importantly, the service,” concludes Parish.

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