Wood Business

Features Sawmilling
Saw Filing 101: Sales, service and success


May 13, 2022
By Paul Smith

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Photo: Annex Business Media

In our current economy, I will venture a guess, most readers have made or will be making some large supply or cap-ex purchases for their filing room. Although a sawfiler may not make the final decision, ultimately he or she is responsible to make sure what was purchased works to the benefit of the department and the entire operation.

When we purchase saws, filing room equipment, and replacement parts or supplies, we like to think that our purchases are backed up by the vendors. With most large purchases there is a great deal of thought, research and paperwork involved in the process. Let’s be mindful though, many mills are set up for online purchasing or min/max programming set by a purchasing agent.

What controls do you have in place to ensure there is customer service and help with the product after the sale? I realize that the mill’s purchasing agent has to do the job of getting quotes and ordering items. However, the success of filing room purchases usually falls on the shoulders of the filer. Most filers have their go-to vendors. A filer will most likely choose a vendor that they know will help them before, during and after delivery is made. 

A mill’s cutting tools such as bandsaws, circular saws and knives are routine purchases. Filers know what to expect from the vendors. Most filers depend on these vendors to help with product knowledge, consistent quality and availability. Many filers will call on a vendor’s expertise for design changes such as RPM or feed speeds or when problems occur such as cracking or failures in run time. If problems are experienced with any of the saws, knives or cutting tools, most vendors want to know and quickly. Some vendors can even send a representative out to the mill to go over the issues with the filer, helping to determine if it’s a mill issue or a cutting tool issue. In my opinion, all vendors strive to supply a good product and correct problems when they happen.

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Filers tend to depend on vendors even more when it comes to purchasing new filing room equipment. With all of the new technology, every filer could use the experience of a well-trained vendor service technician. Although some filing room equipment can be purchased from multiple vendors, even for the same price, the service during the installation and after the sale should be considered. 

I have noticed that some filing rooms will have the latest, most advanced filing equipment, but may not be utilizing all the available technology and programs. Ask new vendors to include a service agreement along with start-up and training in the quote.

Most manufacturers or their authorized dealers have service technicians available. These individuals or teams know how to make your new start-up and day-to-day use of the equipment successful. 

Some mill filers have been running the same filing room equipment for years. They have learned this equipment and know its capabilities. They’ll often choose what is familiar because they have the knowledge when it comes to operation and maintenance. With new, advanced filing room equipment there is a learning curve that needs to be addressed. Almost all new filing room equipment today has some sort of computer system. Even though experienced filers know the configuration the saws and cutting tools are designed with for their operations, they may have to marry their knowledge with an experienced service technician to help get that information programmed into the grinder to get that perfect finished saw, knife or cutting tool. 

A follow-up visit from the service technician after the original start-up is often the most educational for filers. Unless the filers are already familiar with the new machine, there will likely be plenty of questions after they have operated the machine for a week or so. 

By working with the vendor of your choice, any new start-up can be an enjoyable and successful experience. Most filers agree that a good vendor will always own responsibility for their products and equipment to make sure the filer is fully satisfied with the sale. After all, this is what determines their next sale.


Paul Smith is the owner and CEO of Smith Sawmill Service LLC with locations in Texas, Louisiana and North Carolina. Reach him at paul@smithsawmillservice.com.