Page 19 - Print 21 Magazine Nov-Dec 2018
P. 19

Cover Story Konica Minolta
It’s important we know what our sales people are doing and how we can help,” said George.
He acknowledges the challenges and dynamics of the mission critical service role have changed since he joined Konica Minolta ten years ago as a field service engineer. The devices are much more reliable now. The skill sets of the engineers are changing too. From a beginning as a print room operator he went through TAFE for basic electronics and IT in order to switch to service.
“Technology is changing and we’ve got to evolve with it. There’s more
IT and networking skills involved now. We’re looking for people with technical passion. We say if you’re interested in Lego, or Meccano, if you like to pull things apart or operate a soldering iron, then you’re right for us,” he said.
“ There’s quite a lot of mechanics and electronics in the job, a lot of science behind the digital printing process. The cost of service is coming down because the devices are so much more reliable. In Japan they’re listening to people like us around the globe, about what
is happening in the field and how they can improve reliability.”
On starting as a field service engineer with Konica Minolta he was soon promoted to technical advisor, one of six across the state. Technical advisors represent first level escalation, ready to step in and help if the engineer is struggling to resolve the problem. “They’re rather like product specialists in the field,” said George.
Next step up was to team leader and then to his current role. Every field engineer operates with their
own service van where they carry
a range of the most used spare
parts. In the CBD, engineers walk to appointments. In the suburbs and regions the system relies on Konica Minolta’s service network of spare part location warehouses. There is a traffic light on-screen system that the engineers respond to when they begin their day that shows the priority
and type of calls. Relying on remote diagnostics from the front-line call centre operators, the field engineers will know if they have the appropriate spare part in the back of the car. If not, they’ll call into the spare part location warehouse in their area and pick it
up before going to the customer.
The parts at the specific drop point depend on what clients are in the area and what machines they’re running, so that the technicians have the parts they need and no space is wasted on parts they’re unlikely to need.
It’s important that the engineers self-manage their stock and communicate and collaborate with their colleagues. A system using SKY technology gives the administration full visibility over everyone.
Reliability is gold
Konica Minolta is recognised for the reliability built into its devices. This year it received Buyers Laboratory PRO Awards for reliability for the suite of new Accurio products: the AccurioPress 6136 with Internal Image Controller was recognised
as the most outstanding light/ mid-volume production device; the AccurioPress C6100 with Fiery IC- 315 was awarded outstanding mid volume production device;
and the AccurioPress C3080 Series with EFI 417 Controller was awarded outstanding light production colour device.
“We’re looking for people with technical passion. We say if you’re interested in Lego, or Meccano, if you like to pull things apart or operate a soldering iron, then you’re right for us.”
To George there’s a fine line of being able to service the customer within the terms of the service level agreement (SLA) without overstaying your welcome. “We don’t want to become part of the furniture to
the point where the customer asks, why’s that Konica Minolta guy here all the time? There’s been a shift
in the reliability of the devices and customers expectations.”
The most common problems still revolve around paper. The paper path where sheets go through rollers, through heat of up to 180 degrees and with different levels of moisture in the paper is still where problems most often occur. “Even with the best devices it’s never going to be a hundred per cent,” said George.
Then there are certain components that just age quicker related to predicted volumes. These are generally replaced proactively in service maintenance. Often service engineers are engaged in assisting operators on site, guiding them on proper procedures. In a production environment it may be months between using a saddle stitcher
or a perfect binder. The operator forgets how it’s done and calls in the service engineer.
Konica Minolta devices have 20 to 35 different collection points that relay data to provide insight into potential problems. Remote communication between devices from the Accurio range and the service organisation relays relevant system data in real time. It can also trigger automated services like delivering consumables when they’re about to run out, or pushing firmware updates and device settings directly to the machine.
Ongoing training
and improvement
All engineers go through Konica Minolta’s Career Path program
that requires them to undertake a minimum of 12 days training every year. They’re regularly assessed and rewarded as they progress. Training is online, instructor-led, or delivered by third parties. After undertaking this minimum amount of training and completing the required courses, engineers are re-certified each year. Most tend to overachieve this target, attending closer to 15 training days per year.
In a world where digital colour
is becoming the norm rather
than the exception personnel
can undertake a rigorous colour technology course through the Konica Minolta technical training centre. Personnel can progress their understanding of colour science from expert level up to professional and on to master. For those who really want to immerse themselves in colour theory and science they can undertake a rigorous course
in Japan and emerge as a Konica Minolta Colour Diploma recipient.
Customers can call a dedicated production print helpdesk based
in the Konica Minolta Office in Sydney. The helpdesk is staffed
by Konica Minolta Australia’s production engineers, not just call centre workers. This means they can immediately review the details and see if they can help fix the issue over the phone. The goal is that this service will provide a successful resolution in up to 20 per cent of cases.
For service professionals such as Michael George, there is a palpable sense of mission in refining the service offering of Konica Minolta. Aware that standards of service are vital in the mission critical delivery
to keep customers operating, he is forever refining and developing better means to meet the challenges of the changing print environment. 21

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