As Published by Bulk Handling Review
September 30, 2020
Installation and maintenance support are core to how Vortex Global does business. Adam Schrage, Vortex Global’s Engineering manager for Loading Solutions, explains how it will continue offering these services throughout COVID-19.
There is a certain number of unforeseeable factors involved in
any project that involves installing new equipment, whether it is an upgrade to an existing system or a brand-new facility.
Transportation of equipment could lead to potential damage before a component reaches the site, human error could see it installed suboptimally or incorrectly, or so-called black swan events – the unknown unknowns – could potentially see a project stall.
Often, delays are not acceptable as sites work to meet specific production deadlines. On larger plants in particular, a small delay can stall a multi-million-dollar operation.
Adam Schrage, Engineering Manager of Loading Solutions for Vortex Global, says this is why the company invests heavily in aftersales support.
“A lot of the time, depending on the project’s size, we will offer to send out one of our people to be on site during startup for a nominal fee,” he says.
“This means that if something goes wrong, we will be able to quickly identify the issue and fix it there and then. Any issues can be identified more quickly at startup than if a site visit is scheduled later on.”
One example of this process was when a new cylinder installed in an air line had some debris in it, which stopped it from opening and closing properly. Vortex engineers were quick on hand, equipped with a number of spare parts, to troubleshoot the wiring and find where the issue had occurred and fixed it immediately.
According to Schrage, this not only helps Vortex’s customers start production on time, it protects Vortex’s reputation as a provider of high-quality loading solution equipment.
Vortex Global is a manufacturer and supplier of bulk solids handling equipment. It focuses on equipment that improve solids process efficiency, ensure dust-free environments, and establish long-term reliability. This includes products such as slide gates, diverter valves, shut off and control valves, and loading solutions for ports, silos, stockpiles and more. Most Vortex products also come with a one-year warranty period.
Based in Kansas in the United States, Vortex Global has sales representatives and offices around the world, including the Brolton Group in Australia. Schrage says that these representatives, in conjunction with Vortex’s own sales and engineering teams, allow the company to provide the best service possible as fast as possible.
“Our representatives are our eyes and ears to find out what needs to be done and how it can be fixed. They obtain the pictures and data as our first line of communication into the plant,” he says.
“If at all possible, we try to eliminate the need for service trips to help save our customers as much time and money as possible. For example, we will look at the cost of replacement parts compared to the cost of a potential overseas trip. If it makes more economic sense and is easier for the customer, we can simply send an entire replacement product instead of just the components.”
COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns and travel restrictions have affected how the company provides support for its customers. It’s much more difficult, if not impossible, for field service employees to get onto a site to help fix issues.
In response, the company has embraced remote maintenance services, using a combination of digital technology such as Zoom, Facetime and GoToMeetings, with traditional phone calls and emails to determine the root cause of a problem both visually and audibly.
“We encourage our customers to send us videos or photos of their equipment if it’s not working to their expectations. We provide step by step instructions for our customers’ maintenance teams, guiding them through how to best solve any problems should they arise,” Schrage says.
“Supporting our equipment and customers is vital for us as a business, as it helps us grow. We will be continuing to offer support to all of our customers, no matter where they are located, to ensure they get the best results.”