5 Important Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a Machine Tool

Ira Busman

Representatives from Okuma's distributor service group along with supporting Operations personnel
Select representatives from Okuma's distributor service group along with supporting Operations personnel from Okuma America Corporation (May 2023)

Prior to a machine tool purchase, shops in the Americas tend to spend a lot of time evaluating spreadsheet product comparisons and calculating return on investment. Certainly, these considerations are critically important to your purchasing decision. However, when you think about what your needs will be for the duration and lifecycle of this equipment in your shop, it’s clear that seeking a builder with robust service and support offerings will be just as important in terms of maintaining your investment and sustaining productivity.

Okuma America has, for decades, been making investments in building a world-class service organization to support our customers. As we do so we’ve become immersed in the process of understanding our customers’ ongoing needs and finding ways to fulfill them. We believe that service requirements should be a central part of the conversation when evaluating criteria for purchasing a machine tool. Here I propose some key questions that should be part of the pre-sales process, along with answers from Okuma, for purposes of comparison.

  1. How many distributor offices do you have in the Americas, and where are they located?
    For more than 40 years, Okuma America has invested in building the largest and most expansive network of independent distributors in the Americas. As of this writing we have more than 35 distributor locations that are geographically dispersed across the Americas. Today we have approximately 2,000 sales, service, applications engineering and back-office support personnel in place, including combined resources from distribution and Okuma America. Our goal is to be equipped to reach our customers as quickly as possible when they need us, and this most often means taking a short car ride rather than buying an airplane ticket.

    map of Okuma's distributors throughout the Americas
    Today Okuma America has more than 35 distributor locations geographically dispersed across the Americas (September 2023)

  2. How many service technicians do you have, and what are their qualifications?
    Nationwide our support network includes approximately 450 experienced and qualified service technicians at our distributors and Okuma America. Within this group we’ve certified 150 of these technicians and are currently working to qualify an elite group of master certified technicians.
  3. How many parts do you have on the shelf in the Americas?
    Globally we have $200 million in parts inventory that customers have access to from anywhere in the world. This includes $60 million in the Americas ($40 million at Okuma America and $20 million at our distributors).
  4. If we have an unplanned maintenance event with a spindle, does the builder repair the spindle, or is that outsourced through a third party?
    Okuma has on-hand inventory of spindles here in Charlotte ready to serve you as part of our Mechanical Exchange program. When a customer calls with a need for a spindle, we ship it same day, or next day, then wait for their defective core to come in, which we then repair and put back in inventory. We’ve had this program in place for more than 20 years.
  5. How likely are your customers to recommend your machine tool brand to others?
    This is an important question to us here at Okuma, and we invest in a third-party evaluation service to monitor this on an ongoing basis. The evaluation metric we use is called a Net Promoter Score (NPS) and is widely used in many industries. To tally this metric, a couple months after an Okuma machine tool has been installed, we call each customer to inquire about their experience. One of the questions asked is, based on their experience so far, how willing they’d be to recommend Okuma to a colleague or friend. Comparatively speaking, Okuma ranks high on the Net Promotor Score, and this reflects well on not only our organization but our entire support network, including distribution.
A World-Class Service Experience

In summary, service may not always be top of mind for our customers during the purchasing process, but rest assured, it’s always a key driver for us here at Okuma. As I hope you’ve seen here, this represents a large portion of our business and we stand ready to serve you. When partnering with Okuma you can be confident we’re investing in people and processes to create a world-class service experience.

About Ira Busman
Ira Busman
is Vice President of Customer Service, Okuma America Corporation.
Connect with Ira on LinkedIn.

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