Q&A: How Do Domino’s Support Services Keep Production Line Printers Running?

  • By Domino Printing Sciences
  • November 25, 2021
  • General
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At Domino, we ‘Do more’ than provide high-quality production line printers, and industrial printer inks. We are committed to helping our customers keep their production lines running at optimal capacity no matter what. That is why we go the extra mile, with aftermarket services and solutions that provide the business insight needed to improve performance and profits.

In our latest Q&A we sit down with Nick Stanbury, Director – Market Support, ‎Domino Printing Sciences, to discuss the wide range of aftermarket services that Domino has to offer and gain some insight into how Domino is helping customers to increase overall equipment effectiveness, reduce waste, and fulfil wider business goals.

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What aftermarket services does Domino offer?

We have a suite of different service products to offer our customers, including the peace of mind of an all-inclusive service and support contract known as SafeGuard. SafeGuard is a fixed term, fixed price service agreement, covering any additional support a customer might need – ranging from labour to spare parts – and can be offered for up to seven years from the point of sale. We always recognise that we’re not just supporting production line printers, we’re supporting customers, so in addition to the standard services, we also offer expert advice to help customers improve their production performance.

In addition to this, our aftermarket services are evolving in line with the adoption of Industry 4.0. As COVID-19 has proven, consumer needs are constantly changing, and so we are developing and broadening our offerings with this in mind. We are now able to offer our customers augmented reality support via our SafeGuard AR application, as well as remote monitoring via the Domino Cloud.

Domino Cloud links to a dashboard, which allows production line printer performance information to be viewed from anywhere in world, via mobile phone, tablet, or computer. The dashboard is accessible by customers and Domino service support staff and provides an overview of how a production line is running in real time. Domino Cloud is also able to provides event alerts, in case of a change in production throughput, for example, to notify customers where action may be required.

For absolute cost predictability and easy budget management, many of our customers also opt for a fixed-price supply contract for all industrial printer inks, thermal transfer ribbons, thermal labels, filters, and other consumables, with scheduled regular deliveries to guarantee availability. We call this SafeSupply. It’s really popular, and you can understand why – it’s the perfect ‘set and forget’ kind of service.

What are the main issues faced by customers that your aftermarket services deal with?

The main issue that we aim to overcome with our aftermarket services is uncertainty – whether related to budget, supply, or service and support. With all our aftermarket services, the customer pays a single fee, which is fixed for the term of the contract, eliminating budget uncertainty in the first instance.

With a SafeGuard contract, customers have access to our service experts, and traditional phone support, and can rest assured that, where necessary, engineers will be available to rectify an issue and get them back up and running at full capacity. They also have access to remote services including SafeGuard AR and the Domino Cloud which provide a greater level of detail to service and support staff without necessitating a site visit, help to increase first-time fix rate, and dramatically decrease case resolution time.

SafeSupply takes away the hassle of having to reorder consumables and gives our customers the certainty that they will receive their industrial printer inks, thermal transfer ribbons, thermal labels, filters, and other consumables, as and when they need them, so they're not going to run out and suffer a potential line stoppage. From a customer perspective, these services provide peace of mind, because they know that they have Domino’s expert support, whether in terms of service or supply, at hand when they need it.

What benefits do augmented reality support tools, such as SafeGuard AR, have for Domino’s customers? Do you expect augmented reality applications to remain popular after the COVID-19 pandemic is over?

The industry was already on a trend towards the use of augmented reality tools, cloud-based solutions, and other remote services; however, COVID-19 undoubtedly accelerated the development and adoption of these new applications.

The benefits of AR for customers are significant. Through AR mobile or web-based visual support apps, service engineers can connect with operatives on a production line and use video to investigate problem areas and allow for faster resolution of the issue. If a problem requires a simple fix, a customer may be guided to complete the maintenance themselves, or, in cases necessitating a site visit, an engineer can be dispatched with complete knowledge of the issue at hand and required parts.

Earlier this year, we launched our own AR support application, SafeGuard AR, as an extension to our aftermarket services. With SafeGuard AR, our experts can connect with our customers, OEM partners, and Domino service engineers to remotely manage complex installations, check line performance, and identify and fix problems with machinery as and when they arise. The ability to ‘see’ with a customer’s eyes exactly what is occurring on a line allows service engineers to gain a better understanding of a problem than afforded by traditional phone support.

Such applications also lend themselves to more than just issue resolution; when it comes to coding and marking, for example, the machine itself may not have a technical fault – the customer may just need to make slight adjustments to calibration. By using AR, it’s easy to see the quality of the print and advise them on the simple changes to deliver improvements. It’s a stark change from the pre-AR days; matters can now be resolved, or quality improvements made, and customers can be either up and running again, or running more effectively, in a matter of minutes rather than days.

I’d also add ‘automation adoption’ into the list of permanent changes. The reduction in on-site staff numbers due to illness or shielding or the use of lesser-experienced temp workers has accelerated automation rollout as companies look to cope with less manual intervention, or to deliberately prevent human error impacting line performance. I think that the realisation that automation, remote services, and AR are able to transform how we operate has brought about a permanent change in mindset. In the past, customers might have been reluctant to consider remote installations and support – but now, with clear evidence of how much time and energy can be saved, it is likely they will want to continue with this service as normal in the future.

To what extent has there been a shift from preventative to predictive maintenance in aftermarket service provision? Are you able to offer both as a service?

COVID-19 has accelerated a shift in the global manufacturing mindset, and we are developing our aftermarket service with these demands in mind. We are seeing a move away from traditional ‘break and fix’ approaches, which focus on the performance of individual technologies, to outcome-focused solutions, which emphasise the value in optimising the overall performance of a production line.

It’s not hard to see the reason why – downtime is frustrating at the best of times, but at times of unpredictable and unprecedented demand, machine failure can be disastrous. By design, solutions which optimise the overall performance of a production line, and focus on preventing issues before they become downtime, reduce the risks of machine failure helping to keep lines running no matter what.

This change in mindset requires the provision of more information on the overall health of manufacturing systems. Is the line producing the optimal number of units? Is the equipment indicating trends that are indicative of a possible higher failure rate? Any sudden change in production performance – or indeed gradual degradation – may indicate that something on the line is not performing as it should.

Our recent developments, including Domino Cloud, and SafeGuard AR, are moving in the direction of predictive maintenance. In the case of Domino Cloud, this provides our customers, and service engineers with an overview of how production lines are performing, helping to identify changes in output which may require preventative action. With SafeGuard AR, our service engineers are able to instruct customers, in real time, where preventative action, such as cleaning, minor maintenance, or recalibration, can be taken to prevent downtime.

How do you expect aftermarket service provision to continue to evolve?

With ongoing digitalisation of manufacturing processes, it is inevitable that aftermarket services will continue to evolve, with the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence helping to fuel the shift towards new outcomes-focused solutions and predictive maintenance. The next stage of this development would be in offering outcome-focused contracts, with the assurance of guaranteed machine uptime, or, in the case of coding and marking, the possibility of cost per accurate/validated code printing. At Domino, we are developing our aftermarket services with this in mind, with the provision of cloud communications, advanced vision inspection, and increased sensorisation to provide production performance statistics, and remote connections that deliver additional value to our customers.

Of course, with a switch towards predictive maintenance, the role of the service engineer will also change. At Domino, we have a vision of a new ‘Engineer of the Future’ and are upskilling our service and support staff with these new developments in mind, to focus on data-driven decision making and customer outcomes. In the future, it is likely that engineers will require a different way of thinking and soft skills in supporting customers. Their technical expertise, combined with the ability to interpret and act upon historical and real-time customer data, will underpin a partnership model that can enable true overall equipment effectiveness to minimise waste, optimise production performance and profits, and ensure modern production lines are equipped to deal with even the most volatile of circumstances.

Finally, do you have any interesting case studies that demonstrate how your aftermarket services have benefitted customers?

One of our most recent aftermarket success stories involved the provision of SafeGuard and Domino Cloud to a major beverage manufacturer utilising Domino’s Ax-Series inkjet printers. The customer realised the benefit of Domino Cloud with remote diagnostics and telephone support enabling quick resolution of line fixes on a number of occasions.

The customer was also able to obtain additional business insight from monitoring production line printer logs and production performance via the Domino Cloud. It was noted that more issues were occurring during the nightshift, and this was deemed to be due to a lack of training. The customer was able to request additional training from Domino, which lead to significant reduction in machine faults, and an increase in productivity and overall equipment effectiveness during the nightshift.

For more information about our aftermarket services and solutions, please visit our services page.

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