In an article published a few months ago we talked about the difference between validation and testing. Testing can normally be divided into FAT (Factory Acceptance Test, tests performed before the equipment is sent to the customer) and SAT (Site Acceptance Test, tests performed after the equipment has been installed in the customer’s plant). In simple words they are used to verify the correct functioning of the equipment.
The FAT, in particular, is a key moment, since the passing of this test usually corresponds to the payment of the most conspicuous tranche for the purchase of the automatic machine.
“FAT is a crucial phase in the life cycle of an automatic machine,” explains Fabio Farneti, SPAI Srl CEO, “both for the manufacturer and the end customer. For the manufacturer, passing this test triggers the delivery of the machine and, above all, the possibility to invoice and cash-in. For the end customer it means that the machine is ready and can soon start producing”.
In these times, when the lack of liquidity is putting a number of companies in crisis, being able to invoice and cash in is no small matter.
“That’s right, many manufacturing companies find themselves with their machines in stock waiting to be able to complete the test or to send the parts and the assembly workers abroad, which means that they cannot cash-in and that they go into liquidity crisis. COVID-19 has made it difficult and sometimes impossible to move people all over the world, the challenge becomes that of testing and accepting systems through remote controls by performing operations that, until a year ago, were done in presence. The question, however, is not how to carry out these operations from a technical point of view, because with a service like Help4Tech, with smartglasses and mother-tongue technicians that we at SPAI can provide, these problems can be surpassed; the issue is the trust between seller and buyer. At a time when the economy is slowing down, the need to sell becomes imperative and at the same time the probability of receiving products that are not perfectly tested increases. There is not lack of faith, I want to be clear, both actors on stage want everything to go smoothly, the problems arise from the rush of wanting to sell machines in storage and cash-in and the need to save on costs”.
Speaking of tests, they are often carried out by the same manufacturer, it is a bit of a paradox, it is as if the referee of a football match was a player of one of the two teams.
“It is true. However, I repeat, they both want the machine to work, no one wants to fool the other. But it is clear that if these controls were carried out by a third party, they would be more objective and could avoid subsequent problems or disputes, which are a damage and a waste of time for everyone. We at SPAI have been providing services for the qualification of automatic machines since 1998, analysing, drafting the test documents and testing the machines in the field. We have high profile technicians who have been working for years among manufacturers and users of automatic machines. Our main skill is to understand the needs of the user, expressed in the URS or not expressed, analysing mechanical, electrical, pneumatic and software projects and finally challenging the systems to verify their real performance”.
Today, with all the problems related to the pandemic, what you can do for manufacturers and their customers?
“In addition to the Help4Tech service, which can also be used for maintenance and service, today our best advantage lies in our particular geographical location. We are located in Bologna, in the heart of the Italian Packaging Valley, where automatic machines have started to exist. We have the possibility to move around Italy without great limitations, not only being able to test the machines, but also to follow the project from its very first steps, with daily checks of suppliers. At the moment we are acting as a partner on site, trusting that with our high experience and high professionality, we will be able to combine the needs of supplier and user, speeding up FAT’s activities and guaranteeing, at the same time, the supply of perfectly tested and ready-to-use systems”.