The swap-out service or Advance Unit Replacement (AUR) was once generally aimed at customers with lots of cheap imaging devices that are not mission-critical. But it is now being aimed at more expensive production units on which a business might depend.
A serious document management solution often has a front-end scanner that does 50 to 200 or more documents a minute. Hardware costs between £3,000 and £100,000. But just because the scanner is cheap, does not mean it is not an important or delicate part of the set-up.
Many hours can be wasted in an AUR trial-and-error approach. A skilled engineer should resolve most problems quickly on site, with little initial downtime or hours spent reconfiguring systems to work with a loan scanner.
Often after the man in a van has left, images will not index or parts of the image are missing or illegible. Even if these problems are noticed beforehand often the only response the customer will get is “the sooner I get it back to the workshop the sooner you can have it back”.
When customers are away from their site and travelling around the country is the scanner correctly packed and strapped down? Who insures it? How secure are the premises where it is stored?
Most manufacturers of medium-volume or higher scanners will have on-site service for their products. Customers don’t have to rely on AUR for products in this sector.
Consider also the unit the man in a van may have left the customer. This is likely to be well travelled and almost certainly not set up for the customer’s environment – which may result in additional work to configure the replacement, and then do it all over again when the repaired unit arrives back.
Often loan scanners are shipped around the country as service companies juggle jobs. Occasionally they will even re-ship a customer’s unit to another customer site.
Has the loan scanner passed electrical safety checks? Or could operators file a claim against the customer’s business if an accident happens?
The important point is whether this is a component part of a service solution or the only aspect of it.
Among properly resourced companies, not being able to fix on-site is rare. When a loan scanner is used, an experienced engineer needs to install, set up and test it to ensure that it not only scans but functions correctly, is properly tested and safe.
Additionally, the technician should meet the unit on arrival to assist with the loading and unloading so that staff are not at risk in doing so.
Is a small saving made on a service contract worth it, given that nothing will have been saved until the contract has finished? Meanwhile, the only ones likely to be saving money are the service companies themselves.
A man in a van service does not work - not without significant financial and process risks to the customer, which in this tight commercial climate probably doesn’t make a whole load of sense.
David Brown is a document imaging business services director at Kodak
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