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Would you buy a CNC machine that had no local Factory Service Techs?

red beard

Hot Rolled
Apr 1, 2006
Grand Rapids, MI USA
Would you buy a CNC machine that had no local Factory Service Techs?

I ask this question because I recently had an issue with my Hyundai turning center (which I had purchased used). I couldn't find anyone to work on it. The nearest Hyundai service techs are in Detroit-(about 2-1/2 to 3 hours away). None of the local independent CNC techs seemed confident in their ability to repair it due to the fact that it has a Siemens control (apparently not very common in west Michigan). I called a local shop that has several older Hyundai machines and he told me that he gave up trying to find service techs. He just fixes them himself.

Well, I ended up repairing the machine myself, which in most cases, I have the ability to do, but my time would have been better spent making parts and running my business rather than fixing machines. I would rather hire someone to do that.

I plan on purchasing a new (or late model used) VMC this year, and this got me thinking-should I even consider a brand that has no local factory service techs? The problem here, around Grand Rapids (we're actually in the suburbs) is the options are pretty limited. We're relatively close to both Detroit (3h) and Chicago (3.5h), so the machine tool companies don't see the need to set up offices here. The only ones that have local service techs I can think of right now are Haas, Hurco, Mazak, Milltronics (in Kalamazoo) and DMG/Mori (Who just opened up a Sales/service office here last year).

Have you you guys avoided certain brands due to the lack of local support?
Would you buy a CNC machine that had no local Factory Service Techs?

I believe that'd be the drawback of buying any type of used equipment. If something goes wrong, then what?

If buying new what kind of service guarantee is typical?

If buying used how often is any type of service guarantee attached?

Caveat emptor
If you can get parts, I'm not afraid of anything. That's why I avoid any Taiwanese CNC machines. Also, the orphan machines like Hitachi, Leblond, etc would scare me.
I would not own any CNC equipment that I can't have service to within a day or two.

My strength is in making parts on the machines, not repairing and troubleshooting machines. Some guys really like fixing up machines and say "I saved so much money", and I'm just like "yeah but you didn't make any money".

If buying new, negotiate for an extended warranty.
3 hours??? That is local!!! Or at least as local as I can get.

It is a concern to me, that's why I buy stuff I know I can fix.. Either with my own
brain, or by phone, or by coming on here.. Also why I like common machines that everybody
and their grandmother owns..

Also why I like buying duplicates.. Isn't this supposed to be 12V?.. Walk over to the
other machine and find out. Is this LED supposed to be flashing? Walk 30 feet and see..
Is this board bad?? Swap 'em and find out..

When I do pull the trigger on an actual NEW machine, it will most likely be from
the folks 3 hours away, otherwise, I'm looking at travel from Phoenix or Denver or Dallas,
and if you've ever looked at a map, those are 3 cities that aren't very close together.
3 hours isn't that bad... My bender service people come from southern CA-- luckily-- we've done well with phone support. We have a good go to for the Fadals, even though they are 2-1/2 hours away-- but they do troubleshoot over the phone.

I too am a big fan of twins-- nearly every machine here has a like model on the floor that has the same table.

There has to be a service tech that knows those in that area-- even if they aren't factory authorized. I think you have a couple of wire edm builders around there that sell and sevice other equipment as well.
2-3 hours away IS Local. Then again its 45min-hour to get 13 miles where I am...damm traffic!
I was happy a tech did 4 hours over having to fly one in and put up in a hotel.

Anyway, phone support is extremely important. Good tech support has been able to walk me through 90% of my issues, the balance phone support made sure techs that made it to me HAD the right parts and tools to fix when they got here the first time. Nothign like waiting a week for atech to come in and say he needs a twangernator and leave to come back a day later to install said twangernator OR if I install and that not it, no warranty, no take backs.

That said, no local ground support= you lost my sale. I can fix a good amount of the stuff that goes south, but when I am busy, I lose more fixing a machine then it cost to have it serviced. Machine down, guy twittles thumbs, work backs up, work don't go out.
Service is a must.
We aren't affiliated with any CNC machine OEM, but we provide Siemens support for a huge variety of machines ranging from knife grinding equipment to carbon fiber layup machines to CNC controlled induction heat treat machines to routers. There have been times when we have been contacted by a machine tool OEM to assist their technician's in solving problems. Often it is a simple issue that can be resolved quickly.

Sounds like you need to call the Sinumerik business unit in Chicago and ask them who they might recommend.

Partner Finder
Local service is always a consideration when I purchase equipment, by local I would say service guys within 100 mile radius. But even local service doesn't always mean prompt or good service. I just had a machine develop a problem and it was two weeks before I could get it serviced even though the manufacturer is only sixty miles away. Then they didn't even send a service tech out to work on it, they sent a sales guy. Fortunately he had enough experience to fix it!
For me, I opted to buy a used machine that I was very familiar with. I ran one just like it for quite a few years and knew the network of people to call on if needed. I consider it an orphan although the company is still in business, it is new people without the knowledge of my machine as it is older. I did not have any options of a 'local' machine as the closest dealer/mfg of what I have is 12 hrs away via car. We always had to fly in techs at my old job, there just aren't any close to us. If I had the revenue to buy new, I'd still be in the same boat, just with a bigger more expensive payment every month. It would be handy to have a tech in town, but I am never going to move to a place to make that happen.

In your case, I'd sure be weighing how good the service is for a certain brand no matter how close they are. As mentioned, lots of times a phone call with a good tech is all that is needed. I think that goes both ways though, you have to be good at following directions and have a clue as to what the tech needs from you to help diagnose what is going on. One of our machines the MTB had the capability to log in to the machine remotely to see what was going on, they could even run it if needed, made things much quicker.
Thanks for all of the responses.

I realize that having techs 3 hours away doesn't seem like very far for many of you in less industrial areas, but one thing to note is, around here there are several hundred (if not thousands) of machine shops within that 3 hour radius. And it seems to me, that the service techs will respond to calls close by first before going to the calls on the outer edges of their territory, regardless of when the call was received. (At least, that's my perception of the situation. I could be wrong.) So, if the techs are busy, those of us farther away either have to wait, or fix it ourselves.

My experience with phone support has been mixed. Milltronics has been good when I needed help. The Taiwanese MTBs I have dealt with have tried to be helpful, but their accents are usually so thick that it was difficult to make out even half of what they were saying, so I end up communicating via email which can be slow. Emco-Maier was not helpful at all. They wouldn't even give me a price on a replacement part until a paid for a year's worth of support. (I didn't pay for the support. I found the part somewhere else.)
The only ones that have local service techs I can think of right now are Haas, Hurco, Mazak, Milltronics (in Kalamazoo) and DMG/Mori (Who just opened up a Sales/service office here last year).

We are on our 3rd Haas and the support comes from Flatrock (4.5 hours) and they are here the next day. We have only had one repair since 2008.
My experience with the bigger MTBs is that they bend over backward for big customers: GM, Cat, etc. Everyone else gets hind tit.