Local Support: Don’t Buy a Mill, Lathe, or Grinder Without It

Local support is important. This is true for everything, from cars to computers, major appliances to machine tools. Especially the latter. Without local support and access to replacement parts, a broken machine might mean days or even weeks of costly downtime. Worse, it could lead to missed delivery dates, resulting in angry customers who will then look elsewhere.

Rigging in Manila

That said, local support isn’t always easy to find. Access to certified technicians can be particularly problematic in remote locations and developing countries. Such was the case several decades ago when I was working for a machine tool distributor in Minnesota. One of our customers was an orthopedic surgeon who wanted to begin manufacturing knee and hip implants in his home country, the Philippines.

My boss asked me to fly to Manila, help install the doctor’s new mill-turn CNC lathe, and train his operator. Of course, I said yes.

The problems began shortly after arrival. There was no rigger to bring the machine from the loading dock to the shop floor. Nor was there an electrician to connect it once there. Undaunted, we borrowed some wheeled dollies from a neighbor in the industrial park, slid them under the machine, and got shoving.

Disaster struck as we attempted to make the 90-degree turn at the end of the long hallway into the shop. One of the dollies came loose and the lathe started to fall. The good news is, the wall stopped the machine from tipping on its side. The bad news is, I tried to catch the darned thing.

Local Support Lessons

Fortunately, the customer was an orthopedic surgeon. He examined my black and blue hand and pronounced it unbroken. The same could not be said for the wall, which now sported a hand-shaped hole. And we did manage to get the lathe installed, but the fall must have damaged the control because two days later, it wouldn’t start. After a long night of drinking beer and playing cards with my friends, I flew home. They waited a week for a technician from the factory in Japan to arrive.

I’m sharing this story for one reason: buyers of Kent USA machine tools in the Philippines now enjoy local support. Here’s our website: kentusa.com.ph. That wouldn’t have helped us back then because the busted CNC lathe didn’t have Kent USA’s logo on the front, but it is good news for anyone interested in buying a high-quality lathe, mill, or grinder there.

As someone with first-hand experience, I would tell any would-be machine buyer that moving and installing equipment is serious business, one that amateurs like me have no business doing. Further, you’re only asking for trouble if you buy a machine tool without local support, for all the reasons I’ve just described. I did get to see Manila, though, where I rode in a Jeepney and ate longganisa, a type of Filipino sausage. It was okay, but I think I’ll stick with hot dogs.