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Gambica scheme defines automation service levels
Published:  01 November, 2004

Gambica scheme defines automation service levels

A scheme that sets out exactly what levels of service customers can expect from their automation suppliers, has been drawn up by the industry`s trade body, Gambica. The aim is define a series of service standards to complement existing product standards.

"There is a bewildering range of services associated with automation and control products," explains Gambica`s George Fraser. These include aspects such as warranties, hardware support, documentation, training, maintenance, version control, and spares-handling.

A Gambica working group has identified 32 such services and defined up to four levels of service for each of them. These have been set out in a table which the supplier and customer can refer to when agreeing purchases. If there are any subsequent misunderstandings or disputes about the scope of the services being offered, the parties can refer to the levels agreed at the outset.

According to Fraser, the scheme should result in improved clarity, coherence and effectiveness in the offer process, both for the customer and for the supplier. The levels of service will be specified precisely, and customer satisfaction will be improved.

The scheme is based on one which has been running in France for about two years. Similar schemes are being implemented in Germany and Italy.

Initially, Gambica`s scheme is being supported by five of its largest members - GE Fanuc Automation, Eaton MEM, Rockwell Automation, Schneider Electric and Siemens. Other companies from Gambica`s 45 members in the industrial automation sector, are expected to join when the scheme is opened up early in 2005. The scheme may later extended to other areas of Gambica`s activities, such as instrumentation.

There is nothing to stop companies that are not Gambica members from adopting the standards laid out in the scheme, but they will not be able to use the logos that Gambica has devised to indicate the four levels of service.

These levels range from Elementary, where the user is expected to be able to choose, apply and maintain the product, to Enhanced, where the supplier offers a range of premium services tailored to the user`s needs. The scheme may be extended later to include an even higher level of service.

There are no plans for any arbitration or dispute-handling procedures in the event of disagreements between suppliers and purchasers.

Gambica has set up a section of its Web site dedicated to the new scheme, including a downloadable User Guide containing the table of services.

• Colin Perry, chairman of the laboratory equipment manufacturer, LTE Scientific, has been appointed as Gambica`s president for 2004/2005, succeeding Harry Tee.

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