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Choosing a single machine-building supplier `makes economic sense`

16 January, 2009

Bosch Rexroth has launched an initiative to persuade machine-builders to buy all of their components from one source – itself. Although other suppliers have made similar appeals in the past, Bosch Rexroth is backing its plea with arguments that it makes economic sense for machine-builders to commit themselves to a single source of supply as far as possible.

For a start, Rexroth asserts that it offers machine-builders a bigger basket of technologies than any other supplier, with a portfolio of more than 250,000 products, spanning technologies such as PLCs, electric drives, hydraulics, linear components, pneumatics, CNC machine controls, conveyors and safety systems.

If a machine-builder needs to buy components in each of these areas, and talks to three potential suppliers in each field, it could end up having more than 60 meetings to discuss just one machine (assuming it has three meetings with each supplier). By buying all of its components from one supplier, it can reduce the number of meetings to a handful, Rexroth argues.

Similar arguments apply in other areas such as training, support, spares, warranties and service, the company suggests. “If there are seven different suppliers’ technologies on one machine and an end-user is running a three-shift system, that’s an awful lot of training sessions,” points out Stuart Williams, the company’s automotive manager. A single supplier can cut the time and costs of training dramatically, he contends.

“Our approach to automation continues to save machine-builders cost once the equipment is installed,” Williams adds. “Presently, when a machine experiences a failure in the field, the machine-builder may have to request on-site visits by service engineers from two or more component suppliers in turn before the true problem is ascertained and a repair is affected.

“This can result in days of labour being charged to the machine-builder and a period of significant downtime for the end-user,” he continues. “Down the line, there may be difficult-to-quantify, but negative, effects on the relationship between the machine-builder and end-user. When Rexroth is used as sole supplier, we take total responsibility.”

Williams also argues that some machine-builders place too much emphasis on component costs, when these typically account for just £60,000 of the total cost of a £250,000 machine. But, he adds, Rexroth’s prices do not differ much from those of its rivals.

Another important attraction of buying your components from one supplier, according to Rexroth, is that they are more likely to be physically compatible and electronically interoperable, and to share the same software.

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