Existing machines in the field present both opportunities and risks to an original equipment manufacturer (OEM). These machines can generate new sales but can also pose risks.
Legacy machines are a potential source of revenue from the sale of spare parts, change parts and service. Contact with the customer also provides the OEM with a source of information for potential new business.
Servicing legacy machines in the customer’s plant may also have risk. Service visits to the customer’s plant floor should be done with hazard identification in mind. OEM should always ask themselves: Is all the safeguarding in place? Have the safety related parts of the control system been compromised? Most important if hazards are observed what did the OEM do about it? Keep in mind “if you see and condone it…you own it.”
All the interactions between the OEM and the customer should fall into one of two buckets:
Let’s look at an example. A service technician observes that a guard is missing. This technician raises attention about the hazard with the plant management and documents it on the service report that is given to the customer. The OEM follows up with a letter sent with proof of delivery (FedEx, UPS) stating the hazard identified and offering to provide a replacement guard.
If the customer purchases the guard the machine is safer. If the customer does not purchase the guard the OEM is more defendable.
Guidance is available in PMMI’s Product Liability Prevention Guide (4th edition) and ANSI/PMMI B155.1-2016. Both are available at no cost to PMMI members. Copies may be requested from firstname.lastname@example.org.