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Probat’s global offering

From the January 2018 issue.

The recent acquisition of North American company ED Industrial is giving roasting plant manufacturer Probat the ability to offer enhanced customer support for its clients.

Probat

The early completion of a recent intensive overhaul of a roasting drum at a North American coffee roaster has demonstrated the benefits of Probat’s global expansion and customer-centered services following its acquisition of the Canada-based millwright and fabrication company ED Industrial (EDI) early last year.

The site, which was temporarily shuttered for the process, was able to relaunch roasting operations early when the project wrapped up far in advance of its planned completion, having received hands-on services and solution brainstorming from Probat and its new team members from EDI.

Customers are “not just calling on a reactive basis. We’re there on a proactive basis, so more like a partnership so that we can provide solutions ahead of time and really help them with their product,” says John Serpiello, Vice President of Probat Service.

Previously, EDI was a primary installation and maintenance company that Probat relied on. Now they work hand-in-hand to anticipate customer needs and find solutions in record time, giving Probat the ability to offer both products and solutions to its clients ahead of time.

With the traditional roasting drum at the North American roasting company sitting three tiers high, its recent replacement required great skill in milling work to disassemble and detach the drum before lowering it nine metres below. Alongside a new drum, fresh fans, motors and a series of upgrades were all installed during the six-week window—a groundbreaking turnaround.

“It was a really big job from a rebuild perspective, but the value in that for the customer goes well beyond extending the life of a unit,” says Serpiello, noting the simultaneous enhancement of other features alongside the drum overhaul.

Maintenance services and complete overhauls like this replacement require detailed planning and can often unveil more aspects of machinery that should be addressed or could be enhanced along the way, requiring experienced technicians who can brainstorm and work on their feet to maintain quality and care of the roaster. With the acquisition of EDI, Probat is propelling its efforts to anticipate these needs, making repairs and maintenance even stronger than they have been previously.

“When things come up, [EDI technicians] really just get together and find a solution for it and they get it done. It’s a great experience to be able to do that,” Serpiello says, adding that the work was a team effort with Probat experts guiding the way.

Already, customers have commented that the EDI staff maintain the high level of communication, expertise, professionalism and efficiency with which Probat is known to conduct their operations. 

This came as little surprise to Probat, which had a long-running partnership with the newly acquired company. For years, EDI has installed and maintained Probat machinery for North American roasters and gleaned knowledge of the coffee roasting process itself along the way. These technicians have worked closely with the coffee roasters who are using the machines on a daily basis, taking keen note of the industry, gaining an understanding of the product, how roasting is done and what losing production and roasting time means. In an effort to enhance services for a key clientele in North America, Probat saw the acquisition of EDI as an unbeatable move to complement its standing in the roasting industry. 

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive from the customer perspective because of those things: the availability, the results and the knowledge,” Serpiello tells Global Coffee Report.

By joining the two companies, Probat has further enhanced its ability to communicate at coffee roasters’ level: “the coffee level,” Serpiello says. EDI technicians “bring a lot of strength to Probat from that perspective. They’re not just one dimensional” since they have a familiarity with the coffee industry from working with Probat in the past.

The acquisition of the company roughly a year ago was a natural progression from a partnership, as the leadership and technical knowledge of EDI staff led Probat to funnel much of its clientele through them over the years. The new structure of the coordination between teams has further strengthened Probat’s ability to address their clients’ needs and get roasters back to business more swiftly.

As the newly acquired technical staff continues to be integrated into the Probat company, training to enhance their installation and rebuild knowledge will continue, focusing in on Probat products to ensure utmost expertise when meeting customer requests. 

Enhanced human resources and knowledge will build upon Probat’s core offerings in North America and Europe and launch them forward as they look to expand their product and service offerings in Asia and South America in coming years.

“We’re trying to create this larger global service operation focused on the customer…[with] the service personnel where the customers need us,” Serpiello says.

The Probat service team in North America will enable the Germany-based Probat team to deploy other service needs, expanding Probat’s global service capacity.

Probat

Meanwhile, three new Service Level Agreements (SLA) between Probat and their clients are being rolled out gradually as another layer of improving the customer experience and foreseeing needs. A ‘classic’ SLA agreement will be available to start, with ‘comfort’ and ‘premium’ options that provide more care made available as Probat builds upon the classic edition and its resources.

Each level of these customised service packages will provide varying degrees of core offerings to clients, including maintenance and servicing of roasters, parts and availability, phone support for internal maintenance, and training and consultation.

Depending on the level, a company might receive discounted trainings to empower them with an understanding of how and when to conduct an internal repair, free monitoring or inspections conducted by Probat, extended access to telephone support, or prioritised on-site support. Other services include access to software that tracks and alerts roasters on repairs or upgrades that should be undertaken.

“When we ask, ‘will it affect the output and the roast?’ Yes, it will,” says Serpiello. “Part of the SLA is that we offer more of a proactive approach to the roasters.”

Annual inspections will improve the functionality of roasting equipment due to the proactive maintenance approach and SLA. Through these improvements, the coffee roasting itself can also be expected to continue enhancing.

The SLA will also require that certain equipment be readily available, making the turnover for repairs more rapid and preventing unnecessary breaks in roasting operations.

Overall, the company is taking an aggressive step toward proactive, anticipatory engagement with customers in order to ensure they are receiving the best customer service, the highest roast quality and the longest lifespan possible of their Probat roasting equipment.

Between the acquisition of EDI and the implementation of SLA, Probat is expected to evolve and expand quickly across the coffee industry and globe in the coming years.

“Our feet are moving really fast below the water line. There is a lot of action in the organisation and it’s really good to see – and [EDI is] certainly a very big part of that,” Serpiello says.

“We’re really excited about the SLA and our ability to continue to grow the services, knowledge and capacity, because that really does just allow us to globalise it as a service and as a product,” he says. “These are exciting times.” GCR

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