A manufacturer will “guarantee” that the seals on their pump will last for X hours, or they will pay for them for the first year . Sounds great doesn’t it? Actually, seals are relatively cheap. A manufacturer will gladly replace a few dollars worth of pump seals so that they can sell you an expensive machine. That’s not to say the guarantee is worthless, but consider that it might not be worth as much as it seems.
Price of extra software seats and upgrades
Waterjets are controlled by software, and the part drawings are typically done in software specific to each waterjet machine. That means you need special software to draw the part to be made on the machine. Each computer that the software is installed on requires another “seat,” or copy of the software. If you want to install the software on two computers (one at the machine, and one in your office, for example), you will need to purchase two seats.
[And it is relatively easy to copy-protect the software to make sure that each seat will only run on one machine.]
So be sure to check for how much it costs for each additional copy of the software. Some companies will offer additional seats for free, while others will charge up to $1,000 for each copy.
You will almost certainly want at least two seats of software. One for the machine itself, and another for off-line programming, job scheduling, and cost estimation. You may also want a third copy to put on a laptop computer, for when you are at your customers.
Software upgrades are another area where costs can surprise you. Waterjet related software is changing rapidly with many new features and optimizations that allow older machines to be more and more productive. In many cases, it is very useful to upgrade twice per year. Check to see what the average cost of upgrades is–and remember that you may need to purchase an upgrade for each of your software seats.
One other point on software upgrades: even if you don’t use the new features, or care about bug fixes, AutoCAD releases new versions of their software frequently. Each time they typically make new “flavors” of DXF and DWG files. If nothing else, you will need to update your waterjet CAD/CAM system to be able to support loading of these files.
Find out what parts are normal wear parts
Your warranty may seem generous and offer full replacement, except for “normal wear parts.” Check and find out what those parts are. Some wear parts might include high-pressure components, bellows, and so forth.
Check prices of spare parts
Spare parts include wear parts that need to be regularly replaced, and as a result, the prices of spare parts determine your operating costs . Ask if any spare parts are included with the machine. Also check on prices for critical wear parts like pump seals, jewels, nozzle assemblies, and mixing tubes.
Although you can learn to use your waterjet machine through trial-and-error or by reading the documentation, it’s typically much more efficient to go to training classes and be shown the correct way. Some manufacturers charge extra for training, while others include training in the price of the machine.
Remember, too, that as operators leave your company, you may need to invest in training for new operators. Make sure this is available and find out the costs.
In most cases, the manufacturer will send out a technician to install the machine. Depending on the size of the machine, it may only take a few hours, or it may take several days for a large machine. Find out what the manufacturer will charge.
Also find out what needs to be available for the installation to occur (water, power, air). You don’t want to pay to have a technician sit and wait for the proper power to be installed before your waterjet is installed.
Check the details of the warranty provided by the manufacturer. If something breaks and is under warrantee, who pays for the parts and labor? You might find that the parts are free, but you pay for the labor.