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French scheme defines levels of service

01 December, 2002

A group of 18 automation suppliers in France has devised a scheme that defines the level of service and support that customers can expect when they buy equipment including varibale speed drives and HMIs. The scheme, which has been running in France for about 18 months, is supported by leading suppliers including ABB, Crouzet, Eurotherm Drives, GE Fanuc, Lenze, Moeller, Leroy Somer, Omron, Rexroth, Rockwell, Schneider, SEW, Sick, and Siemens.

The scheme, developed with the backing of the French electrical trade body Gimelec, defines five levels, or "classes", of service, ranging from the lowest Class 0, which includes a one-year warrantee and basic documentation, to Class 4, which includes a contractual guarantee that an application will work as intended. Each class has a logo which helps users to identify what level of service they can expect.

At present, the scheme covers automation products including drives, sensors, HMIs, and power controls. It may be extended later to include other types of equipment such as process controls.

As well as formalising what customers can expect from their suppliers in terms of services such as advice, training and maintenance, the scheme is also designed to shift the emphasis away from price when making automation purchases.

Gimelec believes that the scheme has been a success and is now hoping that other countries will adopt it. "We want the work at the French level to be extended to the European level," says Jean-Marc Molina, the organisation`s deputy chief executive.

British suppliers will hear about the scheme at a Gambica meeting in January. The automation trade body`s chief executive Geoff Young says that if UK suppliers want to adopt a similar scheme, Gambica could administer it. He believes that it could be implemented in a matter of months

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