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Thread: Customising machines- why do it?

  1. #1
    TC is offline
    Join Date
    Oct 2004

    Customising machines- why do it?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi all,

    There has been lots of discussion about bench testing and customisation recently. Is it required? Doesnt everything leave the factory correctly specified? Are machines set to importer requirements? Arent they perfect anyway? Can or should they be souped up or varied from manufacturer or importer specification?

    I thought it might be worth having a discussion about some pros and cons by reporting some observations we see and how we typically react...

    Example A
    Importer lands all machines set to 12 bar at OPV. Some models dont have boiler presure gauges. Some have thermosyphon restrictors, some dont. Massive variety in the cup according to specification and build.

    Our response- Set to 9 bar in bench test and employ Scace device to allow for optimum group temperature. Adjust as required. Charge a small premium for this work.

    Example B
    Importer lands machines set anywhere between 9-12 bar at OPV. All have thermosyphon restrictors but they vary in size

    Our response- Check that OPV is set to 9 bar in bench test and employ Scace device to check group temperature. Vary boiler pressure and/or restrictors to optimise.

    Example C
    Importer lands machines which run red hot. No thermosyphon restrictors and difficult to install them

    Our response- Dont range the machine or brand when competitor ranges are superior.

    Example D
    Importer lands machines all set to their requirements but hardware spec. and settings lead to varying flushes and group temperatures between models.

    Our response- Use the Scace to find out what the different models do and optimise as required or alternately, dont range all models.

    I could go on..;)

    Our philosophy is that machine manufacturers do just that- they build machines. Some care more, some care less and its our role to aim for the best possible outcomes from each machine while making the buyer aware of our observations of build quality and performance- thus allowing for an informed purchase decision to be made.

    Thoughts on this issue? *:-?


  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Re: Customising machines- why do it?

    I think you answered you own question.
    Machine manufacture make machines.

    The market then dictates if they sell or not. I am of the the cynical veiw that the general mass market is stupid.
    Most people buy on impulse. They buy on looks. They buy on perception.

    How many adverts do you see with the line “Has a 15 bar pump!!!!”.
    How many people drive to the local retail store and think “Wow, that Kitchen Aid looks awesome. Looks a lot better than the next door neighbours’ Gaggia classic. It will suit the décor nicely. SOLD!”
    Chris, how many times has a customer asked you “But is it better than the other machine?” I need to be better than the Jones’s! Rather than “Here’s my situation, what machine will suit me, in my budget range and why?”

    I believe (I hope I am wrong) that this has allowed the rise of the cost cutting, penny pinching, poor management. The market allows for companies to get away with this.
    Engineer finds that machine runs too hot. He proposes a thermosyphon restrictor. Management says “How much is this going to cost?” Accountant says $2 a machine. We sell 3000 units a year. This will cost us $6000. Management says no. Engineer says “But the machine retails for $2498. Who would really care if it goes to $2500?”
    Management states “You just don’t get it! The competitor machine sells for $2499. This will put us above their machine”

    Management then also thinks that it would a good idea to cut costs by getting rid of the final inspection/setup as the retailer can do that.

    In some cases this maybe a valid reason. I have read that the US market prefer a different brew temp. Just manufacture them the same and the retailer can adjust, if the customer wants it.
    Also wouldn’t it be better to ship at a higher brew pressure? If the pressure adjustment “slipped” during shipment or for other reasons, wouldn’t slipping from 12 to 10 bar be better than 9 to 7? Maybe this is a bit of insurance for the manufacture?
    In the lower end of the market maybe most customers couldn’t tell. When I first bought my Silvia I don’t think that I could. So as the manufacture sees it, why pay to adjust when the majority of the customer wouldn’t notice. If they can, well then they can adjust it themselves.

    Then there is just stupid engineering.
    Why does the Silvia have that hex nut bolt to hold the shower screen in? Why not a counter sunk? This would cost almost nothing for Rancilio to change.
    My friends FaemaTronic, pump stopped working. Found that the loom that runs along the back had been severed. The pump and boiler fill light sit on the right side of the machine. The earth wire runs along the back of the machine to an earth lug on the left of the machine!?! To top it off, two earth wires that from the control box (which sits on the left) run along the same loom to an earth lug on the right side of the machine. Stupid. Really stupid.
    Just like you I could go on and on and on!

    As a tech I constantly see things that are built incorrectly, don’t specifically do what I want them to do, or work a lot better with a little tinkering.
    So is bench testing and customisation needed? Absolutely!
    Should you shy away from manufactures that show poor quality or products that are too hard to set up/customise? A big YES!

  3. #3
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Warwick, QLD

    Re: Customising machines- why do it?

    Nice to own a machine that arrives on ones bench, perfect from the get go I must say. I hear what youre saying Chris and appreciate the time and effort that goes into ensuring that clients machines will do what the promotional blurb states it will (after youve waved you magic wand, err Scace at it).

    A pity more machines dont leave the factory in the same state that the BFC/Diadema machines do, would save you a lot of extra work.... 8-)


  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Re: Customising machines- why do it?

    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight

    I think Ive learnt to accept, but not overlook, some of the shortcomings of many prosumer machines. This is particularly true when a little intervention can transform these units into something far closer to perfect.

    Manufacturers who care about their product are making improvements that are often based on feedback from importer/wholesalers, retailers, and consumers. It may not happen as quickly as wed like, but it does happen.

    For the life of me though, I dont understand why a manufacturer would take the time and spend the money in doing a beautiful welding job on a piece of stainless, only to finish it off with an angle grinder. Or another manufacturer who cobbles together a whole machine that looks the goods on the outside, but on the inside, looks like its entirely built from parts that came from Jaycar (with respect to Jaycar). OK, Im exaggerating but you get my drift.

    Its interesting that at the under $1k range of the market, we will readily disparage what experience, and all too often hearsay, tells us is a dodgy product. Yet when it comes to the high end of the market we are reticent to do likewise.

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