Working for the Government, Continued


I told you about our experience with the Navy. We’ve worked with the Air Force, too. It started with a troubleshooting call. The customer had a DKR drive that had blown several internal boards (loss of magic smoke), and there was nothing to do but bring it in for repair.

We gave the customer the pricing for Factory Repair, they gulped, and we didn’t hear anything more for three weeks. Then got a call from them again, saying that they had got it repaired at Bob’s BBQ and Servo Repair Shoppe and now they were having problems getting it started.

This is the point where we usually tell the non-customer that we are sorry, but we don’t support third party repairs, but the guy was desperate. He told us he had made the case for sending it in for Factory Repair, but was overruled. So… we started working with him. The DSM module wasn’t holding the parameters, it would take the load and then go back to default parameters as soon as the load completed. We decided that they would send the entire drive in for EVAL, and if we had to redo the repairs, they would get charged twice (your tax dollars at work here).

When we got the DKR in, we found a repair that would at least run in the test cell, but was not a proper repair. It didn’t have the right components on the board, since Rexroth doesn’t supply parts for third party repairs. Instead it had substitutions.

This is a common problem when you take your machinery to Bob’s BBQ and Servo Repair Shoppe. They have no way to get the right new parts, so they have to work with whatever they can get. That might mean parts they’ve cannibalized from a component that’s not working, used parts they’ve picked up on eBay, or parts from other makers that seem similar to the Rexroth parts.

The DSM wasn’t working. That was not surprising, since the board that read the DSM was one of the ones that was smoked and repaired. We put a new DSM module in, and then ran the unit overnight. While the electrical performance was a bit shaky, it did run, so we sent the unit back to the customer with the new DSM module. Of course, they didn’t have a copy of the parameters of the old drive, and the OEM had trashed all their records as well.

Hey, it’s over 4 years old so they don’t need to repair, they need to buy a new machine, right?

If you don’t have a known good backup, you might have to.

Fortunately, a retired integrator came in to do some work on the unit, and he still had a copy of the drive parameters on his laptop.

So, to summarize, the customer (the US Government, through the auspices of the US Air Force) sent the drive back to the OEM, who sent it to a third party repair shop. The third party repair shop then repaired the unit with non-standard parts, and was unable to replace or test the DSM module. They then sent the unit back to the OEM, who returned it to the AFB. Then, when it didn’t work, the AFB sent the drive back for factory EVAL, where we found the DSM problem, put in a new DSM and sent the unit back again. After another week, a fortunate chance allowed them to get their machinery running again.

Total downtime – 7 weeks+

Total cost

  • Rebuild cost from third party…unknown, but since it wasn’t really fixed, any amount would be too much
  • Eval Cost was about $1,000 with expedites
  • DSM and firmware cost was also about $1,000

The thing about this whole exercise is that the AFB has a dinky repair that will probably last a year, was down 7 or more weeks, and got charged for a repair, checking a repair, a new DSM and firmware. Had they sent the unit directly to us, they would have gotten the repair in 2 weeks, the DSM fixed or replaced as part of the repair and a statement of conformity saying that the drive was repaired with factory new components as per the factory servicing guidelines (something Bob’s BBQ and Servo Repair Shoppe can’t do at all).

Your tax dollars at work.

Choosing third party repairs to save a few cents and then coming back to us for support on a unit we didn’t repair? I’m not going to say we hold that against them, but it’s not the ideal.

I really don’t like working with the government.

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Factory Repair services available with 24 hour turnaround.

Call (479) 422-0390 for immediate assistance

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