STRONGSVILLE, OHIO — Van Dorn Demag Corp. is wired.
The injection press maker now houses its customer support services in a new, 77,500-square-foot building equipped with high-tech telephone and Internet equipment.
"This was designed from the ground up to be an aftermarket facility," said Alfred D. Tolliver Jr., director of parts and services support.
The "molder action network," as the building is called, is just a few miles from Van Dorn Demag's headquarters in Strongsville.
The building, which opened in November, has plenty of glitz, sporting computer-equipped classrooms and a large training and mold-trial area with seven injection presses. But for owners of Van Dorn Demag presses already in operation today, the biggest impact will come when they pick up the phone.
An automated distribution system funnels calls for troubleshooting advice or to spare-parts ordering directly to technicians based on their areas of expertise.
That is designed to mean less time on hold and faster answers.
"Our response time, for example, averages approximately 32-42 seconds. That's down from some three minutes," Tolliver said.
Technology is the key. When a call comes in, a full database about that customer automatically pops up on the technician's computer screen. The technician can see detailed information on each Van Dorn Demag press at that company, including a service history. Wiggle the mouse and click, and other details appear, such as blueprint drawings of the machine and a catalog showing which spare parts are available and when the order will be shipped.
The company also can link field-service people, working at laptop computers in other states, into the phone system.
"It's invisible to the customer," Tolliver said.
The molder action network also serves as the hub for the company's new WebStar System, an intranet that links the Strongsville service center with the 55 service people in the field. Customers also can access the system.
For the past several years, Van Dorn Demag had housed its aftermarket operations in a leased facility in Cleveland. Other functions, such as training rooms, were at the corporate headquarters. But in 1999, company officials reviewed its efforts and decided to link all service operations in a single building.
Aftermarket is big business for a manufacturer like Van Dorn, which made its first injection molding machine in 1945. Tolliver said the company has shipped an estimated 30,000 presses, and about 20,000 of them are still at work.
Van Dorn Demag generates sales of about $35 million a year from spare parts and service. Tolliver said now the company is expanding into spare parts for presses made by competitors, consisting mainly of wear items like screws and nonreturn valves.
Given the computer and phone requirements, it made more sense to put up a new building, wired from the ground up, than to retrofit an existing building, said Tolliver, a 30-year veteran of Van Dorn. For example, the building is wired for a dedicated server to link the phones with a database.
About 120 people work at the new facility, which is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.