Every glass company is unique: Each has different goals, product and service offerings, facilities, and manufacturing line requirements. Almost every machine to come out of Erdman Automation Corp. is made to order. At Erdman’s main plant in Princeton, Minn., pictured, the company was working on 76 machines at the facility, including eight machines in the research and development stage, and 17 service jobs, as of June 2012. The company manufactures automated production equipment for the glass, and window and door industries.
Erdman officials work closely with customers from early on in the purchasing process. “Some customers come in knowing fairly specifically what they need. For others, we might work with them for 6 months to determine what they want,” says Jim Tibesar, sales manager.
View a photo gallery tour of the Erdman Automation plant in Princeton, Minn.
View a video demonstration of the Erdman Automation Fixed Head IG Secondary Sealer
View a video demonstration of the Erdman Automation Hand Assist Glazer
Capital equipment purchases represent a major financial investment, and rushed decision-making or poor planning during the machinery selection process can have a long-lasting, detrimental effect on a company. Below are five top recommendations for glass companies looking to grow their business and product offering through the acquisition of new machinery and equipment.
- Establish a budget that includes the cost of the new equipment, as well as the time and travel expenses associated with researching the equipment at tradeshows and supplier locations.
- Map out your current production process versus your desired process, and determine what functional requirements the new equipment will need to meet. This includes maximum and minimum sizes—both absolute requirements and wish lists—so equipment companies can quote you comparatively and offer options that are most applicable to your operation. Plan in advance to prepare a sample package of drawings and product such as frames, glass, sealant, etc., to send to potential equipment suppliers for evaluation and quotation purposes. This information and sample product is important to ensuring the supplier understands the application and quotes it precisely.
- Ask for and call customer references. Explain to them your desired process and equipment functions. Other topics to address in reference calls include:
• The salesperson’s knowledge and assistance during the purchase process and follow-up
• Experience with the equipment provider’s administration and project coordination
• Run-off process, installation and training
• Issues encountered and resolutions
• Aftermarket service and parts
• Overall value of the equipment they received.
- After narrowing down your list of potential equipment suppliers, visit their facilities. Within a few hours of arriving, you will know if they have the capabilities and resources to supply the desired equipment, install and service it, train your employees on its operation, and provide future customer support.
- Once you make the decision to purchase equipment, visit the supplier for an acceptance run-off when it is complete. There are exceptions to this rule. For example, if you have bought the same type of equipment from the company in the past, and it is relatively standard. In general, however, there is always something to gain—or problems to avoid—when you take the time to visit the supplier prior to shipment of the purchased equipment.