Star Refrigeration’s Operations Group has a highly proactive approach to aftercare, setting it apart from many service and maintenance contractors. Here, Star’s Head of Business Development – Operations, Valgard Bertschinger, outlines how new customers are introduced to the company’s unique way of working.
“Industrial plant and equipment maintenance is traditionally a reactive industry. Engineers are typically called to site when a fault arises, or equipment has broken and needs fixing. Our focus at Star is firmly on PPM (planned preventative maintenance) to reduce reactive call outs which typically result in further-on costs. We aim to make ongoing improvements to the condition, resilience and efficiency of each plant, to help our customers reduce their life cycle operating costs.
Any new plant manufactured by Star has efficiency and resilience built-in, so from a maintenance point-of-view, the system is in optimum operating condition. Refrigeration plants are similar to cars – new vehicles may only need an oil change in the first few years, but older models require a much higher level of servicing and proactive maintenance.
With new maintenance customers, we are often taking on a refrigeration plant that is older and has not been manufactured by Star. We look to restore the plant to as near its original operating parameters as possible and ensure it is maintained in the best possible working condition. In some cases, we may be able to enhance performance at relatively low or zero cost. In most instances there are opportunities to link the customer to Star’s monitoring hub and record real time data to allow effective monitoring and swift response to alerts and alarms as they happen on the refrigeration systems.
One of our first priorities is a detailed site safety questionnaire, which we complete with the customer. This can uncover health and safety issues that need to be addressed in order for our engineers to attend the site.
We then undertake a full legislative inspection to ensure compliance with current refrigeration industry regulations. This may highlight issues that have been unknowingly neglected, if the customer was not kept up to date with legislative changes by the previous contractor.
With ageing equipment, an initial diagnostic check will highlight how much the system has moved away from its original operating parameters. We use diagnostic tools including a thermographic panel scan, oil testing and vibration analysis as well as comprehensive data analysis, to identify any operational and resilience issues.
When the system operation and resilience has been examined, we rectify and resolve minor issues within our maintenance remit. Where necessary, we also make recommendations for system improvements, identifying any immediate areas of concern and advising on the actions required.
We take the time to carefully explain our recommendations to the customer, and provide details of any works that require further investment. We highlight the financial benefits of investing in remedial work and demonstrate how inefficient plant operation is costly to the customer.
Together we draw up a multi-year capital plan, which enables the customer to anticipate and budget for future capital spend. This forecasts when components will need replacing or servicing and we revise the plan year-on-year, We detail how this investment will reduce the number of call outs, service visits and energy costs over time. Additionally we draw up a recommended critical spares list.
With new customers, our aim is to boost the plant’s operational resilience to its maximum level within a year. During the first 12 months our engineering team will develop a thorough understanding of each plant. We will resolve any operational issues as they occur and make the plant as efficient as it possibly can be.
The main focus with all customers is a continual process of improving resilience and reliability and maintaining efficiency, to reduce long-term operating costs. Highlighting and rectifying plant inefficiency is ultimately the biggest money saver for our customers. Clear communication via maintenance meetings, mid and full year reviews as well as comprehensive engineer briefings after every visit ensure the customer is fully informed of the plant’s condition.
We strive to show the value and benefit of any investment in the refrigeration system, to inform the customer and give peace of mind and confidence. This way of working is consistent across all nine UK branches in our nationwide network. Star’s proactive approach to aftercare is the key to our ongoing success and high level of customer loyalty.
We always welcome the opportunity to speak with end users to discuss their individual requirements. Our team is happy to provide further insight into the new customer journey and the benefits of working with Star.”