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Thread: Hard decisions concerning CNC upgrade/downgrade for small shop

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    I believe that the consideration at this point is that with so many used machines now entering new lives with new owners as compared to even a few years ago because of folks upgrading to the latest or moving on from CNC, the strain on any manufacturer's support structure, both time wise and financially, is pressing consideration of handling things differently. A lot of the folks buying used machines have no experience/knowledge and that starts to saturate the support infrastructure. Aside from raising prices on new machines to cover the increased support for re-sale users, charging a flat fee for training and support or hourly for just support is a reasonable approach. Someone has to pay for it...

    At one time I thought that Camaster had life time support even on used machines. That was one of their selling points

  2. #17
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    Things change, Jerome. We may not like it, but businesses sometimes have to reevaluate costs and how they are ramping, especially as the business and the market it plays in matures in various ways.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #18
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    I can find out tomorrow the details of CAMaster's warranty from the owner. I expect that it never expires for the original owner of their machines which is more then fair, beyond that would be extremely generous in any business.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Outten View Post
    I can find out tomorrow the details of CAMaster's warranty from the owner. I expect that it never expires for the original owner of their machines which is more then fair, beyond that would be extremely generous in any business.
    Yes, I do believe it's perpetual for the original owner, but getting his input is a good idea to insure clarity.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    Things change, Jerome. We may not like it, but businesses sometimes have to reevaluate costs and how they are ramping, especially as the business and the market it plays in matures in various ways.
    Let me add that offering support to 2nd, 3rd, even the 5th owner of a product is a recipe for failure. Technically, it is offering support for a product that you didn't sell.

    There is a high cost of supporting new users. Not so much in the literal sense of support, but in the assumed sense. For the most parts new machines don't run properly because the users don't know how to run them. Old machines with experienced operators don't run properly because their parts fail, wear or break. An old machine run by a new user is the worse case scenario.

    Having worked at 2 CNC companies I have been privy to what support costs, for purposes of this conversation I wish I could share that info, most would be astounded. But I cant. Just believe that it is a number much higher than most readers here could imagine.

    I agree with Jim, the landscape is changing. I would imagine in the near future tech support, as it is called now will be more clearly defined and it will be limited. Time limits and content limits. In reality, support should be there to keep that mfgr's machines running. To assist the user that has a problem, make an adjustment online, send him parts if needed, sell him parts if out of the warranty period. Not teach him what he is doing wrong using a 3rd party software.

    "Imagine if you will" auto mfgr's were held to CNC support standards......

    "I sold my brand A, and bought a brand B and now you owe my purchaser full support"
    "I want an aftermarket audio system. Will it work in my car and can you instruct me how to install it?"
    "I added an aftermarket chip and my truck wont run, what's wrong?"
    "Remember when I ordered my truck with a V6? I want to upgrade to a V8 now"
    "I want to buy a boat, can you teach me how to back a trailer?"

    Auto warranty's are like CNC tech support. Good products need them to put customers at ease. I am old enough to remember a few decades back when all the automakers had 100K mile warrantees. Till they didn't. They found it was better to put the money into R & D and add technology. And those are the exact areas CNC mfgrs must cut when overwhelmed by support costs. Stagnant development in a technology based industry means your sales go down fast. No new models, no new features, no big splashy releases of the next "greatest thing". In short, no new customers because your competitors have all the new goodies and customers are flocking to them. Your machines look like they are a decade old. Imagine that! 2010 machines at 2020 prices!

    Pre-virus Asian imports with no warrantee and no support were selling around 50% the cost of similar US products. You do the math. From where I used to sit, $1500 would be a bargain.
    Gary Campbell
    FabMaster ATC-40 Bridgemill
    CNC Consulting & Custom Machines

  6. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by eugene thomas View Post
    well mark your mighty crapsabre. well why bother,,, have no reason to deal with them any more.
    Understood Eugene, its a bummer you picked a bad machine. Cost is a hard thing to swallow but you cant blame the MFR for delivering what was ordered.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  7. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Campbell View Post
    Let me add that offering support to 2nd, 3rd, even the 5th owner of a product is a recipe for failure. Technically, it is offering support for a product that you didn't sell.
    Being in business, to me, this is one of the difficult aspects of courting the newcomers to a market. You'll be hard pressed to get a call back from the big boys at this level (Onsurud, Biesse, et al) but these manufacturers have made a conscious, and financially driven, choice to feed the markets they feed. New comers, small shops, etc.. Its why they make small machines. Sucky part is you cant have your cake an eat it too. I agree subsequent owners are a bear given wear, machine modification, changes, etc.. No one could ever opt to support a machine for life when there is no ability to track whether someone bored holes, welded on the machine, tried to add features on their own.

    But none the less, pretty much all the machines covered in this, the SS, CM, Avid, etc., forums are purchased by inexperienced users who are more than likely buying heavily biased to price. Thats the market they are courting. Sorry for their luck, but you threw yourself into that pot.. Turning tails, post commitment, is pretty lame. If you sold machines with lifetime support, regardless of resale, you own those machines. Hind sight is always 20/20. Its the burden you bear when you chase the almighty buck down close to the bottom of the barrel.

    Ask anyone with a big-boy machine what support costs after the fact. Its usually not a pretty picture but that was the deal going in.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  8. #23
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    CAMaster is closed on Saturday so I won't be able to get in touch with them until Monday.

  9. #24
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    Mark...
    You make some very good and valid points. Most of the big iron machines are supported by an annual service/support contract. Usually in the $5k-$10K range annually. Drop out for a year or two, pay the full boat to get back in. There is no free pass. My guess is that the consumer grade machines will go that way in the near future, but not quite so heavy handed.

    The small CNC market (and aftermarket) sells products to people that don't know enough to use them properly, wont study and learn from manuals, won't pay for formal training and expect the MFGR to provide any help or support that is needed. We are about to watch that come to an end.

    They also sell to people that are either not a first time user or ones that "get it" the first day. The MFGR's need to come up with a support plan that will take care of the majority that are capable to do some learning on their own and offer "pay to play" options for those that need more assistance. It's only fair that those who need more, pay more.
    Gary Campbell
    FabMaster ATC-40 Bridgemill
    CNC Consulting & Custom Machines

  10. #25
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    I agree with you Gary but there is a flip side to this coin. Xenetech started charging by the minute for phone tech support several years ago and I recently heard that they are about to go out of business. I suspect that their problems are not all related to their for pay tech support change but I know that it didn't help their sales of new machines.

  11. #26
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    Keith...
    I don't think by the minute support would be the model I would advise any company to adopt. And, full disclosure, I am not working with any OEM currently on this matter. That said, if I had the right answer, I am sure I would be wealthy in no time! For now, I am just gathering info and opinions, and yours matters to me.

    Knowing nothing about Xenetech, I would first want to know how they played in the world. Were their problems low sales based, and why? Were they overwhelmed by support and forced to charge for it, and why? Good product, bad product, easy/hard to use? etc., etc.

    In other words numerous CNC companies that have gone out of business (Dozens if not hundreds) suffered from bad engineering, bad controls or simply had over marketed their products. IMO none of the brands that are frequently mentioned on this forum fall into that category. If one of them were to make a drastic change similar to what you mention above, they too would see a noticeable downturn of sales. Very few, if any, of these companies have the bankroll to weather a bad PR storm for a number of years while they regroup.

    The CNC explosion of the last decade place tens of thousands of new people into the CNC world. Many of them were able to commit to the price, but would not accept the time required to breach the learning curve. That takes patience, and we are now in a fast moving world. Since the "reset" from the virus a major reshuffle of employees is beginning to occur. Many folks that had thought about buying a CNC and generating income from home took the plunge. Sales are up, most every company I am in contact with is very happy about their numbers, with the caveat that almost all of them have lost an employee or two.

    So you can see why tech support demand is up. Sales are up, retrofits are up, DIY builds are up and help is down. Guys buying a same brand new machine sells their old one, guys buying a move up, other brand machine sells their old one. And on and on and on. Add that to hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of previously sold machines that are now getting more use due to a lot more stay at home..... you get the picture. That is why I feel we will get to watch the changes in the industry as it moves away from the "free for life" mentality.
    Gary Campbell
    FabMaster ATC-40 Bridgemill
    CNC Consulting & Custom Machines

  12. #27
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    When I was working at CNU we purchased a Xenetech laser engraver. The day the technician came to our office to install the laser I found a bug in their software that was aggravating. The machine still worked but every time I changed the project size I had to jump though hoops to get the change to take affect. It was like having to roll down the window on a car and open the door from the exterior handle, you could do it but who wants to when the machine cost more than a very expensive automobile.

    The hardware was excellent IMO, the company promised to resolve the software problem but never could get it corrected. I finally gave up on the software and eventually ordered a Trotec laser because our schedule was very tight and I needed a second machine anyway. My plan was to run both machines in order to keep on schedule but I found out that the Trotec was so fast I didn't need the Xenetech so it was retired.

    The idea that I would ever have to pay Xenetech for tech support was preposterous given their track record resolving problems with their machines.
    Last edited by Keith Outten; 09-20-2021 at 8:52 AM.

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Campbell View Post
    In other words numerous CNC companies that have gone out of business (Dozens if not hundreds) suffered from bad engineering, bad controls or simply had over marketed their products. IMO none of the brands that are frequently mentioned on this forum fall into that category. If one of them were to make a drastic change similar to what you mention above, they too would see a noticeable downturn of sales. Very few, if any, of these companies have the bankroll to weather a bad PR storm for a number of years while they regroup.

    The CNC explosion of the last decade place tens of thousands of new people into the CNC world. Many of them were able to commit to the price, but would not accept the time required to breach the learning curve. That takes patience, and we are now in a fast moving world. Since the "reset" from the virus a major reshuffle of employees is beginning to occur. Many folks that had thought about buying a CNC and generating income from home took the plunge. Sales are up, most every company I am in contact with is very happy about their numbers, with the caveat that almost all of them have lost an employee or two.

    So you can see why tech support demand is up. Sales are up, retrofits are up, DIY builds are up and help is down. Guys buying a same brand new machine sells their old one, guys buying a move up, other brand machine sells their old one. And on and on and on. Add that to hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of previously sold machines that are now getting more use due to a lot more stay at home..... you get the picture. That is why I feel we will get to watch the changes in the industry as it moves away from the "free for life" mentality.

    This is spot on, IMHO.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  14. #29
    I dont in any way shape or form disagree that any type of free for life mentality, when you diverge from an operation heavily leveraged on profit, is never going to be a good thing.

    I personally know a woman who got heavily into stained glass, had an uber high paying day job. Went out and bought a waterjet to cut parts to speed up. It was a hobby, but a super well financed hobby, there was never going to be the commitment there on her part for a programer/draftsperson/operator who knew the machine. It might run for a day or two, then sit for months. Here engagement to the machinery/software/etc. was so sporadic she could never make sense of it all. Now there is a $60K waterjet sitting in her garage that has not been fired up in ages.

    This is my point about courting the markets you court. ShopSaber, Avid, Laguna, Camaster, on down the line, have willfully made a choice to court that market. I will figure out my solution to a problem before I call SS because its faster. I will spend some time getting my head around the intricacies of the machine because it serves my profit margin. But all these companies have entered into the Staples printer market. They are selling to some percentage of people that are going to sit there with 10 thumbs saying "I hit go... why didnt it go..." If thats the market you court... and you took the money.. it is what it is. You can change your policy but you own the ones you committed to til death do us part.

    Im sure the cash hanging from the trees in the market are hard for any manufacturer to not think about.. but it is what it is.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  15. #30
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    Mark...
    "I personally know a woman who got heavily into stained glass, had an uber high paying day job. Went out and bought a waterjet to cut parts to speed up. It was a hobby, but a super well financed hobby, there was never going to be the commitment there on her part for a programer/draftsperson/operator who knew the machine. It might run for a day or two, then sit for months. Here engagement to the machinery/software/etc. was so sporadic she could never make sense of it all. Now there is a $60K waterjet sitting in her garage that has not been fired up in ages."

    This validates my point. A customer that will not put forth an honest effort to learn the intricacies of software and the mechanics of a machine that they have paid a good dollar for does not deserve never ending no charge time from the MFGR.

    And lets be clear there are 3 areas, generally classified as support, that each need a separate solution.
    1) Product warranty. Limited to the electronic and mechanical components of the machine and their performing as intended. Parts fail, no one is immune and no MFGR I have ever questions properly diagnosing these issues and subsequent replacement of bad parts during the warranty period, or sale of replacement parts after the warranty time has expired. I will state, as you did above, that none of the ones mentioned and a few more that I am aware of have any issue with this part of the equation overall. I am sure that each has a few isolated instances that they and the customer went more smoothly. 20-25% of Tech Support calls for this category

    2) Machine operation. Proper methodology regarding setting machine and work coordinates, basic knowledge of what the mfgr included macros do and a few steps in the direction of resetting to "normal" when an error occurs. Movement of the machine via keyboard or pendant, tool installation and file load and run. Classes to this effect are offered at virtually every MFGR as will as online videos and orientation sessions with new owners. Depending on the MFGR only 5-10% of their customers take advantage of this. Yet is generates about 15-20% of tech support calls.

    3) Software design and toolpath generation. I don't need to go into the list on this item, and want to mention that most of the OEM's offer this training also, but for a fee. Less than 5% of OEM customers attend their software training. Now that SB does not rebrand Vectric products and distribute them as a SB version, none of the above mentioned OEM's built their own design software, it's all 3rd party very heavily weighted towards Vectric, which is good. The bad is that that lack of knowledge in this area by new users generates ~60%+ of the tech support calls. They simply don't want to pay for training and they wont spend the time to study the Vectric training materials.

    Which brings me back to my point. Over 50% of the tech support load is for a 3rd part software that can be one of hundreds of brands, and that the customer, not the OEM should be responsible for that learning. Just like your customer above. Anyone that can stroke a check for a $60k machine and not commit to learning how to run it is much wealthier and more foolhardy than myself.
    Gary Campbell
    FabMaster ATC-40 Bridgemill
    CNC Consulting & Custom Machines

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