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Aug 24, 2009|
Alan Brewer, BUNN Director of Technical Education, works with Dr. Brew and the rest of the BUNN team to help you brew great coffee. This article was originally published in the Q1 2009 edition of Tea Coffee Asia.

As a foodservice operator, often you must deal with beverage equipment that seems to be producing short batches, not freezing beverages, or just plain not working. If there is a problem with the equipment, at some point, you will say "Hey, I'm not getting a full pot of coffee." Faced with thirsty customers, you don't have a lot of time to debate about the best course of action. This article is intended to give you steps to follow when you are faced with a service situation.

Step #1: Consult the machine LCDs. If you have a digital coffee brewer, the LCD (liquid crystal display) may give you a message that will guide you through a service problem. If you follow the prompts, you may be able to perform the service yourself, and save the cost of an expensive service call. This is the advantage to beverage equipment containing microprocessors. Of course, the LCD may say “I need service” in which case you should proceed directly to rule #5.

Step #2: Check the service manual. If your machine doesn't have an LCD, you may be able to find the answer to your service question in the manual. Service manuals are usually shipped with beverage equipment, but if you have misplaced or lost yours, never fear! Most companies post service manuals on their website where it's easy to find and download a service manual in PDF format, then fix your problem after consulting it.

You may also be able to find other helpful service guides on the company website. On the BUNN website (www.Bunn.com), we have a number of downloadable Care and Cleaning Guides. These are illustrated with photos so that the procedure is clear, regardless of whether English is your first language.

Step #3: Consult the “Service” section of the manufacturer’s website. Chances are good that if you are having problem, other equipment users have also experienced it. If the problem is a common one, the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section in the service area on the manufacturer website will address the problem.

Another area of the website to explore is generally called “Service Training." Often, the manufacturer will post videos that provide training on a variety of beverage equipment. For example, on the BUNN website under the category “Service,” you can find videos on showing how to perform operation and service functions on a variety of equipment including coffee, liquid coffee, granita, juice, and other beverage equipment. Some of these videos are also available in Spanish. If you can find the answer to your service question here, you may not need to call a service technician.

Step #4: Determine if the service will require a tool. Let's say you've consulted the resources above, and you know what service needs to be conducted to fix the problem. The next question you need to ask yourself is whether or not the procedure will require a tool, and how comfortable you feel with using it. In my experience, most end users or operators don't have the skill set or the confidence to use a tool to fix equipment. In fact, many of them don't even own a wrench or screwdriver. In addition, if you need to determine the temperature of the machine, you will need to use a digital thermometer. In many cases, a service technician will have this important tool.

Step #5: Call the manufacturer’s service help desk. Most manufacturers have a toll-free number for their help desk on their website and often on their equipment. When you call this number, be sure to have the following information:

• Serial number
• Model number
• Date of manufacture (if possible)

If you have this information before you make the call, when you get on the phone with a factory technician, he or she will be able to tell what model you have, when it was built, if it is still under warranty, and if there had been any upgrades or changes to the product since you purchased it.

You may be able to tell the technician about the problems you are having, and he or she can help you correct the problem over the phone. If the problem cannot be addressed adequately over the phone, the technician may say "I think you need to call a service technician."

If a service technician isn't close or available -- for instance, if you are in a remote area -- make sure that you tell the technician. Let them know that you would like to try to fix it yourself. Of course, you may have access to a maintenance or operations person who possesses the tools and training necessary to fix the equipment. If this is the case, by all means access it! For instance, the repair may be as simple as replacing a thermostat. This is not difficult for a person who has maintenance experience, but it might be impossible for you.

If you determine that you can do the service yourself, the technician will tell you what parts you need to repair the equipment. They might also leave a callback number so that when you get the parts, you can call them and they will walk you through the repair.

Step #6: Call a service technician. Notice this is Step 6, not Step 1. You should have exhausted all the other possibilities and determined that you are not capable of or comfortable with making the necessary repair before you call a technician.

Please remember that repairing beverage equipment is not like fixing a laptop computer. If you reboot a laptop, it will often solve a service problem. However, if you Restore Factory Defaults, you may lose many recipes or formulas that are stored in its memory and cause even more damage.

Once you ask for a service technician, the factory service line should be able to provide you with a phone number. Many manufacturer websites also have a service technician locator.

To be continued...

Please email your questions to Dr. Brew -- he'd love to help!

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