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Dec 22, 2009|
Dennis Graham, BUNN Parts Manager, helps with Dr. Brew and crew assure great coffee. This article is published in the Q4 2009 edition of Tea Coffee Asia.

Replacement parts are like your heart or lungs: you don't even think about them until something goes wrong. It's a normal day in your cafe, then suddenly, your coffee brewer won’t make coffee. Craving their favorite beverage, your customers are unhappy when they can't get it. You lose money, and, if your machine is down very long, you might lose your customers. So it's in your best interests to know critical replacement parts and how you can get them quickly so that your beverage equipment is back up and running in no time.

A solution for most operators: recommended replacement parts

The cost for replacement parts is only a fraction of the total cost for a typical service call, yet they are vital. If you are like many operators, you may go to a company website when your machine breaks down to try to find the recommended fix for the unit. You may be confronted with a bewildering list of replacement parts that are recommended for the machine, and little or no description of what these parts might be worth their relative importance to the unit.

Fortunately, most manufacturers now have a list of recommended replacement parts for each machine. So, while there might be hundreds of replacement parts, only thirty may be recommended. Since parts can cost anywhere from a few cents to hundreds of dollars, it's important to know which ones are essential.

For example, the BUNN CWTF, a basic three warmer, decanter brewer, has 280 replacement parts which have a list price of more than $5,300 USD (฿180,819.74 THB). Now, take a deep breath -- the 35 recommended replacement parts only list for about $600 USD (฿20,439.54 THB). You could save about $4,700 USD (฿160,109.71 THB) if you keep only the recommended parts on hand.

A growing number of manufacturers indicate suggested replacement parts as a way to prioritize parts purchases. This helps the manufacturer as well, so that they can forecast and procure parts to meet demand. At BUNN, all new products introduced to the market place come with a list of recommended replacement parts -- the ones that you are most likely to use. Going back to our example, recommended replacement parts for a CWTF include a funnel, timer, faucet parts, tank heater parts, lamps, sprayheads, switches, thermostat, tubes, valves, and of course, a deliming spring.

As an alternative, some companies list parts for each piece of equipment. All the parts for that equipment are not shown, but the parts that are considered most essential are listed. These lists are generally available either on the company website or as part of the price list.

Service manuals are also a good resource for necessary parts. Available on the website by equipment type, service manuals may include an exploded parts diagram showing what parts are needed for a repair. Sometimes the parts lists are in separate publications such as in BUNN's case, where Illustrated Parts books accompany the service manuals.

Should I stock replacement parts?

There is no hard and fast rule regarding whether or not an operator should keep replacement parts on hand. Each operator has to assess their business and make that decision. Some questions to consider include:
• Are my venues in remote locations where it may be difficult to obtain parts quickly?
• Do I have a number of venues?
• Do I use a variety of beverage equipment?
• Does some of my equipment contain common parts?
• What kind of investment should I make in replacement parts?
• How available is a service agent?

If you are a small, independent operation, you may not want to invest a large amount of money in replacement parts. Most company service representatives around the world will stock replacement parts and get them to you in a reasonable amount of time, or it may make sense to contact a service representative if your equipment breaks down. On the other hand, if you know your service agent or distributor is over 100 kilometers away and it will take a significant amount of time to get parts, you may want to have a few recommended parts on hand. The decision is based on the economics and your comfort level.

There is such a variety of beverage equipment and so many different sizes of operations, that the best rule of thumb is to ask yourself "What fits my business model?" You must make the decision whether it is more cost effective to buy and hold parts or have the machine down for a week while you're waiting for parts to arrive.

I should define what is meant by the term common parts. Common parts are those that are used by many different models of equipment. Some examples include water inlet valves, solenoids, faucets, switches, fuses, clamps and sprayheads -- all of these parts are fairly common in may be used across a wide range of machines. However, for many machines, parts are unique, and so it is important to allow sufficient time for them to be ordered and delivered. If you are located in the remote area, this could take days or weeks.

Possibly the most important question has "How much income will I lose if my (you fill in the name of the beverage equipment) breaks down?

More parts available more quickly

The importance of the increased effectiveness of forecasting cannot be understated. The more accurate the forecast, which is based on historical data and market information, the better the parts availability. This means we manage parts inventory more successfully.
You as a customer benefit because with improved inventory management comes more cost-effective parts. Through better management of the parts process, we can be more responsive to your service needs.

This works in the US and across the globe. It means that international distributors can get these parts more quickly so they can prove their support of your operation. Increasingly, local distributers stock equipment and provide not only sales, but operational training and service support. These distributors carry a wide range of parts and their technicians are trained by global technical support factory team so the service support for operations across the globe is better than ever before.

Machine warranty is also a very important consideration. Be sure to check your equipment warranty at the time of purchase. If the warranty is effective from the date of install, rather than the date of purchase, you will get more coverage. Really, a warranty doesn't do much good if the machine is still in the box. A good warranty is effective worldwide and covers all parts, including electronics which can be very expensive. A three-year parts and labor warranty including some travel provides excellent coverage for your beverage equipment.

The number of service agents for beverage equipment has also risen internationally as we become a more global marketplace. As the number of coffee brewers and iced tea systems and other beverage equipment goes up, so does demand for service and parts.

A new day for parts


With better inventory management, more service agents, additional distributors, and the advent of machine communications, the availability of parts has been dramatically upgraded in recent years. The best person to contact for parts is still your sales or service representative; however, and the internet has made manuals, parts lists, and service information available any time -- day or night It's now easier than ever to keep your equipment up and running, serving outstanding beverages, and turning a profit for you.

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