6/1/2007 | 4 MINUTE READ

OEM Recharges With Innovative Edge

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You may have noticed a change in the way Tornos U.S. is operating. Since becoming president of Tornos U.S in June 2006, I have implemented sweeping changes that are at the heart of our drive for original thinking.

You may have noticed a change in the way Tornos U.S. is operating. Since becoming president of Tornos U.S in June 2006, I have implemented sweeping changes that are at the heart of our drive for original thinking. This new strategy is aimed at doing things differently so that a greater emphasis can be placed on developing necessary systems, networks and tools that will allow us to provide better service to our customers, enhance our market position and attract new customers.

Sometimes it’s necessary to shake things up, and Tornos is doing just that. Already we have a SAP (business management software) program where none existed before. We have created a new U.S. Web site customized to the North American market at www.tornos.us. We’ve formulated a trade-up program. We’ve organized a 24/7 customer service program. We’ve gathered an experienced and highly motivated sales, distributor, applications and service team. We’ve formed strategic alliances with Hydromat and Esco. We’ve invited members of the trade press, including Production Machining’s Chris Koepfer, to tour the Tornos manufacturing plant in Moutier, Switzerland. And I’ve been invited to join the Big Ten AMTDA Leadership Conference and the debate panel at the Chicago Summit organized by the Swiss Business Hub in October this year.

Going against the trend to downsize U.S. operations, we’ve also designed and are building a new Midwest facility and will have new facilities in Connecticut and California soon. Each “Center of Excellence” will house a state-of-the-art demo room and be staffed by a team of service, parts and applications specialists that will allow us to deliver a higher level of service to all four corners of North America. Parts can be shipped faster. Our hours of operation can be extended. Technicians can get to our customers quicker. These are all good things.

One of the most unconventional and successful things we’ve done is to develop a “Virtual Deco” trade show concept. Just as our customers and prospects need to think differently about their turning operations in order to compete today, we determined that we needed to stir up the trade show scene.

At the heart of our decision was the important question: Is it really necessary to have machines at 15 to 20 trade shows every year? I didn’t think so. I found it hard to justify spending $40,000 to ship a machine (multiplied by the usual three or four machines we usually shipped per show) to each venue. Add to that the cost of time, manpower and service interruptions, which are significant when you figure shows generally require taking my people out of the field for 2 weeks to set up each show and my applications people out of the office for a week during the show.

Another concern I had with the traditional trade show was the fact that in our industry, it’s quite difficult to see what’s happening in the machines when they’re running because of oil, chips and a lot of projection. Slowly machining brass is what most manufacturers do, and what we used to do, to circumvent this problem. This helped customers and prospects to see what was happening, but it was not reality, and I was concerned that it could be unproductive, making customers think that our machines can only machine brass slowly. What was this investment getting us? A handful of leads, and the satisfaction and peace of mind knowing our brand was represented along with our competition.

We didn’t want to lose that peace of mind—we wanted to continue to be represented in the marketplace. However, we needed a better solution. That’s why I invested in the new Virtual Deco trade show concept.

With the Virtual Deco, visitors experience an immersive product demonstration unlike any seen before, complete with a 15-foot-wide video wall and thunder-seat theater chairs. The concept was designed to provide a guided tour of the Tornos single-spindle turning center product that goes beyond what is achievable with live demo machines operating on the show floor. It’s developed in 3D so we can remove parts of the machine to show what’s important. We can show assemblies, machining processes and all the exclusive features of Tornos machines without any coolant, chips or windows in the way. It’s more informative, more efficient and more exciting. I need less space, and I spend less on shipping. Everybody in my organization is allowed to do their respective jobs. My people can concentrate on added value and customer service instead of moving machines to shows, and I am attracting more visitors to my booth.

This year, we’re exhibiting at 16 shows. By eliminating the machines in the booth, we get back 2,200 man hours, which can be spent on what our customers need instead of on moving equipment here and there. Perhaps equally important is the message that it sends: Tornos is back in the U.S.; back with a strong drive to move forward and help customers. We’ve found it’s motivating for our sales network.