Thursday 24 March 2016

I'd vote for the political party who ...

I'd vote for the political party who promised to (and achieved it) sort out delivery companies. In this day and age it should be perfectly possible for them to predict within the hour when a parcel is delivered to our premises!

In the event of a failure to deliver on time we should be able to claim damages and not limited to some measly portion of the delivery fee. The claim should compensate us for lost productive time, frustration and consequential loss. For example if we are forced to wait in all day because the courier doesn't deliver on time we should be able to claim a day's fees at our normal charge rate. A few bills for a few hundred pounds for a failed delivery would soon see the couriers fixing their systems.

There should be get-outs for the courier company in the event of genuine third party problems blocked roads, emergencies etc provided they can demonstrate they've made contact to advise the delivered address of the delay and made suitable alternative arrangements.

Delivery slots of longer than one hour should be banned unless there is prior agreement of the consignee at the delivery address.

Today I'm waiting for DPD. My supplier has booked a one hour delivery slot for some urgently needed spare parts, but I've received no notification from DPD as when they plan to deliver. As part of the service, they are supposed to tell you in advance of when delivery will take place, or at least a one hour timeslot. When I try to enquire on the DPD website as to the delivery time, all I get is the dubious information that the parcel is at their depot, but no estimated delivery time. I've found, after some searching, the phone number of the DPD Help Desk when I phone that it just repeats the same ineffectual information "the parcel is at the depot" and I cannot get through to speak to a human being. All I can do is wait ....!

Monday 21 March 2016

Bandsaw problems - investigations

We mentioned in an earlier post that we had encountered problems with a new Charnwood B350 bandsaw we'd purchased for our company. The inspection door hinge on the saw was rusted and seized up. After an hour's usage the drive belt snapped rendering the machine non functional.

We spoke with the vendor (Charnwood) this morning. They were annoyed on our behalf that we'd suffered problems with the new £600 purchase. Their attitude was "what would you like us to do to fix the problems". Returning the machine is not our preferred option as the faults are relatively minor and moving it up from the basement would entail a lot of work. To help resolve this I said we'd try cleaning the rust from the hinge and applying lubrication to the repaired hinge and then get back to them with the outcome of the work. They have offered to replace the door if necessary. They are also sending a new drive belt to replace the broken one. 

We've already purchased the tools necessary to re-install the drive belt. It is a fairly quick job and one we could expect to have to do periodically during the life of the machine It is a minor inconvenience for us to replace the belt rather than wait for a maintenance engineer or to send the 80 Kg machine back to the shop.

This afternoon we cleaned up the rusted hinge with 400 grit grade emery paper, applied light machine oil and remounted the door on the bandsaw machine. The machine would not start, the metal door had become distorted and wouldn't operate the safety interlock switch. After 30 minutes tinkering  we were able to fix the problem, but we'll be asking for a new door as the distortion arising from the rusted hinge could have long term effects.

While testing the power switching we noticed the machine was running with an odd scraping noise from the area of the drive shaft. We noticed the "key" for the drive shaft was loose and scraping against the back of the main saw pulley wheel when the motor turned. Normally the access door would be closed so you wouldn't be able to see the problem, but we'd overridden the safety switch and had the door open.  We resolved to investigate more carefully and dismantled the lower half of the saw. 

We found that the hidden grub screw at the back of the drive pulley was loose. It had not been tightened during the manufacturing assembly process. Consequently the "key" which locks the pulley wheel to the shaft had not been secured. The pulley wheel was able to freely drift along the drive shaft. It is no surprise the drive belt had become damaged and snapped.

We'll be having further discussions with the vendor tomorrow!! They need to have some serious discussions with the manufacturer. There are some serious issues with quality control.

Edit: Charnwood are sending a replacement door by courier, which is a story in itself.

Edit: 25th March 2016 The faults have now been fixed. While they should not have been present on a new machine, Charnwood has responded in a helpful and professional manner. We'd recommend them. 

Saturday 19 March 2016

Bandsaw problems

We mentioned in an earlier post we had purchased and installed a new bandsaw purchased from Charnwood. We  went for their B350 model. Their ordering process is straightforward and delivery of the 100 Kg  pallet containing the box went relatively smoothly, though as with many delivery companies their courier (Palletways) was unable to specify a time of delivery so we had to have someone wait at the office all day to receive the delivery.

Manoeuvring the beast down to our basement  via twisting 2010 year old narrow stone stairs was challenging but we did it without injury to person or machine. We had to assemble the base, but other than that the machine was pretty much ready to go.

Unfortunately we have had problems. One of the inspection doors won't open because the hinge is rusted. These doors are vital to the operation of the machine. Without the doors you cannot check or change the blades. On first use the drive belt was slipping so we had to tighten it to get the saw to work. 

Rusted door hinge on a brand new Charnwood B350 Bandsaw

This morning two days after purchasing the machine the drive belt broke while we were running a test on a 1 inch (25 cm) thickness of softwood. The machine is specified to handle up to 8 inches thickness of wood, so a drive belt snapping on a new machine does not bode well. It points to poor manufacturing/inspection control. The drive band (PJ595) itself is quite weedy, it is rubber reinforced with fabric and is about 1 cm wide in a rectangular cross section about 2 or 3 mm deep. It is produced by an obscure Chinese manufacturer (Shanghai Wutong Belt PJ600).

Have we bought a "Friday Afternoon" machine? We've sent a report to Charnwood, so we'll see how well they react. Needless to say, the timing of these problems is not convenient. We'll maybe produce a review once Charnwood have had the opportunity to resolve these problems

Monday 14 March 2016

The cost of poor customer service.

We've decided to buy  machinery for our company to assist in creating models for proposals to prospective and existing clients.  We'd narrowed the choice down to two suppliers and allocated budget for the purchase.  We needed to check the stock level for the desired item at the local branch of our usual supplier. We phoned the branch and hung on waiting five minutes for an answer without success.  Clearly they don't want the business and subsequent follow-on spares purchases.

We placed the order shortly after with their competitor. The Derby branch of Machine Mart screwed up and lost hundreds of pounds worth of business as a consequence. The moral is if you are in the business of sales and the phone is ringing, answer the damn phone. If you don't answer in a timely fashion you can lose a lot of business.

Modern phone systems offer a whole range of features such as call roll-over which might have kept our custom.

Edit: 18/05/2016
We now have a new 14 inch band saw delivered and operational. It was supplied by Charnwood in Leicestershire. It is their own label brand and appears to be well constructed. They'll be getting future machinery orders, so for Machine Mart the damage is long term. Charnwood answer the phone promptly. We'll be using this machine to develop prototype trading room furniture. It is primarily aimed at wood cutting, but it can also be used for plastics.

Friday 4 March 2016

BREXIT The UK and the EU

Let me say up front, I'm in favour of an open Europe with no trade barriers. I voted in favour in the referendum (1975, here's the Harold Wilson Leaflet) to stay in the EU. I've worked in both EU and non-EU countries. I've been employed by non-UK EU companies and my business has traded with EU and non-EU companies. I like working with European colleagues.  It was a great advantage when the Euro was introduced and spread to most EU countries. It was great not having to hold supplies of currency for each country I visited to do business.

However I believe the time has come for the UK public to vote to leave the EU and become independent of its governance.  The EU has grown from what we originally agreed to join from a Common Market to a beast which demands a federal Europe with all countries beholden to a central government which is not accountable to it's subjects. 

The EU is unable to control it's own spending and introduces additional legislation without properly evaluating the cost impact of legislation. The EU is out of control. They do nothing to protect our industrial base, they do not protect our financial industry.

David Cameron gave the EU an opportunity to reform. At the start of 2016 he came away from rushed negotiations with a few crumbs of success, but nothing like the changes discussed in the Conservative Party election manifesto. The European Ministers do not take him seriously and were not prepared to countenance change. They don't mind taking our money and spending it on the EU Commission and other EU countries, but they are not prepared to take our views seriously. David Cameron knows this and is trying to hide the failed negotiations in a campaign of misinformation. He's using dirty tricks to hide the truth.

Mr Cameron would be more convincing if he had a plan in place for what would happen when the UK public vote for Brexit. 

I grew up in a UK independent of the EU. We managed just fine. It belies all the lies, misrepresentation, omissions and bullying of the David Cameron campaign which has been dubbed Project Fear. They claim we'd be worse off, security would be worse, we'd lose employment etc, etc. It is all Bull Shit.