Nobody likes to place calls for medical imaging equipment service. We’d all be much happier if every CT, C-arm, or digital mammo we ever bought worked correctly, 100% of the time, for the rest of our lives. Unfortunately, we live in a world of wear and tear, acts of God, and outright boneheaded moments that create the need for maintenance and repairs.
When these things happen, if you haven’t purchased a service contract to cover your equipment, you’ll be calling in service engineers on a time and materials basis. The price on this type of service can vary widely depending on hourly rates and parts needs. There can also be additional down time costs, depending on the engineer’s availability.
While we do offer time and materials service and do our best to keep the costs to a minimum, we can’t honestly speak for other companies in the business. As a safeguard in these situations, here are some tips to help you make sure you’re getting the best value out of time and materials service calls.
Tip #1: Try Some Basic Troubleshooting Yourself
Nothing is more embarrassing than calling in an engineer to repair something that you could easily repair yourself. Okay, so maybe it would be more embarrassing to live out that recurring dream where you go to work and realize you’ve forgotten pants, but the idea stands: Even though you aren’t an engineer there are still some things that you can do before paying to have someone look at your equipment.
Restart the Unit
Like any computer, your imaging equipment may have a glitch and just need to reboot. If the problem starts to happen with any regularity, consider an engineer.
Be Wary of User Error
No matter the training or time you’ve spent on a system always consider that something you may be doing is causing the issue. There’s no sense in paying an engineer to come and tell you that your system isn’t broken, but that you’ve been using it incorrectly. Referring back to your manual or retracing your steps from the time your problem began can be helpful in double-checking for user error.
Check the Simple Things
Make sure both ends of any exterior cables are securely plugged in. Confirm that none of your emergency stop buttons have been depressed. Check for stuck buttons on foot pedals or hand switches.
Tip #2: Choose the Right Engineer
If you’ve tried the basics and had no success, you'll need an engineer onsite. Make sure that you are getting the right person for the job with these tips:
Do They Come Recommended?
If so, there’s a better probability that you will have some success in using them. Ask for references. Some companies will even post testimonials on their website.
What Is Their Expertise?
It’s okay to ask an engineer what experience they have with your equipment and if they have handled this type of repair before. Most will understand that you’re simply being thorough. Worst-case scenario: you might hear a snarky remark, but you’ll find out what you need to know.
Cheapest Isn’t Always the Best Option
You get what you pay for. Typically, an engineer with a higher hourly rate also has more experience. Expect an experienced engineer to take less time onsite to diagnose and repair, which helps offset their rate with fewer labor hours on your invoice. They may also be able to resolve the issue without the need for ordering expensive parts.
If you are experiencing multiple return trips and extended down time, you might be working with a less experienced engineer.
Tip #3: Don’t Buy More Parts Than You Need
It’s easy to buy more parts than are actually needed. Make sure you are asking your engineer detailed questions about the equipment to see if you are really buying just the part that will resolve the issue.
Pull the Error Logs
Knowing where to access the error logs on your system can save on cost and downtime. Typically, an engineer will know what parts to recommend based on the error code your machine is displaying. Properly equipping the engineer with the error logs will speed up diagnosis and repair tremendously.
Be Wary of Replacing “Assemblies,” “Modules,” and “Computers”
Parts with these words in their names are often comprised of many smaller components that can go bad. A good engineer can often discern the individual component that is causing the assembly to fail as a whole, and save you the expense of replacing an entire series of parts. Sometimes though, you and your engineer have no choice. Some manufacturers sell assemblies that they won't break up into individual pieces.
Have Doubts? Get a Second Opinion
Naturally, we want to be your first call for time and materials service, but even if you choose someone else to service your equipment you are always welcome to call us for a second opinion. Our team maintains a database of all the problems our customers have called in from the field and all the parts and techniques that were used to resolve them. And if our in-house team hasn't recorded your problem, there's a good chance our expert field engineers have. We are happy to help and support calls are 100% free.
When the inevitable happens and you find yourself unable to look at bones, or follow the course of a needle through human tissue, or locate that action figure torso someone’s toddler swallowed, rest assured that following these tips can help you save when you're considering calling in an engineer on a time and materials basis.