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Retrofitting with a Purpose

Numerous businesses are opting to modernize the computerized components of their CNC machines and other equipment. MachMotion is one firm that provides retrofit solutions for obsolete computerized parts and control panels across a range of machinery, such as CNC machines and routers.

E.F. San Juan Inc. chose MachMotion to upgrade the control panel on one of their CNC machines

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The computer system on one of Eddie San Juan’s CNC routers started glitching in the early days following the worst of the pandemic, so the high-end door fabricator knew he had to find a solution. He started by working with the machine manufacturer—even sending in the computerized control panel for repair. But the lead time was long and San Juan was worried about the prolonged downtime for a third of his business.

So he did some research online and found MachMotion, a company that offers solutions for aging computerized parts and panels for a variety of equipment, including CNC machines and routers.

 “What we had were machines that are extremely well taken care of, but their electrical systems were just aging,” says San Juan, who owns E.F. San Juan, Inc. in Youngstown, Florida. “One in particular was really acting up…it got to the point that the computer systems were failing very quickly, and we had to come up with a solution or potentially be stuck with an inoperable router. So, I found MachMotion and started the process to replace just the computerized control system.”

He says it was a great experience and he will replace the same system on a second machine this summer. “[MachMotion] came in and worked with us to figure out what exactly we needed, then they went back and built it to our specifications. They came back and did the switchover—we were only down about a week.”

And that can really make a difference for smaller manufacturers and companies, says Chad Hodge, director of marketing at MachMotion. “Typically they'll come in with a problem they’ve likely tried to correct themselves — maybe with what we call ‘band aids and bubble gum,’” he says. “They're buying parts off eBay and have somebody come in to patch it up — maybe it's their maintenance team and they're soldering a wire together or whatnot and they're really tired of it…they have a job to get done and need to meet a client deadline and their machine is down for four hours. Now that may be fine one time, but when it happens 10 times…not so good.”

That’s about how it happened for San Juan, who says he found MachMotion after searching for another solution online. “Our total cost was about 25 percent of what we would’ve spent on a new machine,” he says. “Not to mention the extended downtime from having to swap out the entire machine and the waste and all that.” You basically get a brand new machine with the upgrade/retrofit, he adds, and that includes outstanding customer service.

“When you go with MachMotion, you gain a partner with expertise to help you get a new machine experience without actually having to buy a new machine,” says Hodge. “And what I mean by that one is you're supported. We offer lifetime customer support for every customer — it’s not a warranty but it's helping them work through the issues and things like that and we can do that because we're using modern technologies. We can remote into the machine with U.S.-based remote support, we can see if you had something fail at 5:56 p.m. and we can go in and look at it and help you solve it right away.”

“Once we come out and access just what you need, we get to work building it for you,” he continues. “It then takes roughly 6-8 weeks to build everything, depending on the parts needed, etc., and then we come out and make the transition and make sure the customer can fully operate the machine before we leave. And we try to do this with the least possible disruption to their business.”

“These machines are iron—they're meant to last a lifetime,” says Hodge. “But they do have wearable parts. If you're keeping your machine updated, you know there are things that are going to need to be updated or replaced: the wiring inside the machine, the relays, everything inside the cabinet or panel and the control itself — those aren't meant to last 20 years, right? The best comparison I can give you to that is you would not carry the same phone for 20 years in your pocket or keep the same laptop for 20 years…it would be a waste of technology as it relates to security and things like that. So the iron on these machines are meant to last a lifetime, but what we do is come in and basically replace all the electrical components, the wiring, everything in the cabinet or replace the cabinet. And we can do the switchover and get you back in operation within a week most of the time.”

MachMotion has worked on many different machines and brands, including machines you may never have heard of, says Hodge. “We do the majority of our business with CNCs and routers,” he says.  “But in every job we do, we take a few pictures of the machine, including of the serial plate, then we custom-build the solution for every customer. We are not just sending out a replacement part based on your model number… there might be different size motors or a number of variations, so we actually customize it, ship it to you and come out — usually the following week — to make the switch.”

San Juan says he opted for MachMotion to come out for an extra week when they upgrade their second machine in June, just to run through various programs and settings. “There’s always little quirks here and there that come up when you're using the CNC that you gotta tweak. This way, we can kind of stress test it  to make sure that everything is in good shape and ready to go.” And he says he has been more than impressed with their customer service. “We are in Florida and get started about 5:30 in the morning,” he explains. “I texted our guy when we had an issue and he got back with us by 5:45 — and it was even earlier for him. I was pretty impressed.”

 

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