A longarm quilting machine, like an appliance, is a hard durable good. Even so you should anticipate your longarm (just like your other appliances) will need to be repaired on occasion. Further, as with any appliance purchase, you should anticipate that your longarm machine will be backed up with reliable repair service and replacement parts. We agree that these are reasonable expectations. As such, we would like to share what we have found from servicing and supporting all brands of longarm machines.
In general, we have found mechanical repairs are sometimes necessary and that these are much less costly and much less difficult to complete than electrical repairs. Many of the mechanical replacement wear parts are interchangeable from brand to brand and only vary in price based on the quality or precision used in manufacturing these parts. As such, there’s lots of suppliers, choices, and prices for mechanical parts to keep your machine in service.
On the other hand, the downfall of many manufacturers and machines lies in electronics. Electronics problems and their consequences will likely lead you to prolonged out of service time, the greatest repair cost and frustration leading the elected premature obsolescence of your longarm investment. We have learned about these costs and frustrations ourselves from the personal accounts of people who visit our stores to trade off problem machines. We also experience these people’s frustrations when we try to obtain technical support and replacement parts for the many brands of used quilting machines that we own (and are preparing for resale) and those that people have solicited us to fix.
To help explain what we have learned we must first discuss the acronym OEM. An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) makes systems or components that are used in another company’s final product. Quilting machine manufacturers, for example, integrate OEM parts such as circuit boards, computers and software into the stitch regulators and robotics that they sell. OEMs can save the manufacturer time and money. However, there’s two very significant and consequentially different ways that quilting machine manufacturers use OEMs:
- On one hand some manufacturers use an OEM to manufacture their entire stitch regulator and robotics system. The design, software and engineering expertise for these products is owned by the OEM and not the quilting machine manufacturer.
- On the other hand, there’s a small number of manufacturers that use several OEMs to provide them with the components used to produce their own “in house” stitch regulator and robotics systems. These manufacturers use their own engineers to design, develop software and provide technical expertise.
Here is our experience with manufacturers that use an OEM to produce their entire stitch regulator and robotics system:
- With some brands the OEM is constantly changing design configuration. This makes it necessary to purchase new components when they fail rather than a one for one like replacement.
- Not having a one for one replacement causes additional components to need to be replaced or sent back to the OEM for updating. This greatly expands the time (months) and costs for getting equipment back in service.
- The component parts used are usually not produced by companies that have a very established consumer product presence in North America.
- The quilting machine manufacturer will frequently refer you to the OEM as the manufacturer has not been involved in the engineering, design and manufacturing of the stitch regulator and robotics system.
- The OEMs are difficult to get technical support from as returned calls are infrequent and their phone in boxes are often full.
- The OEMs seem to have a hi customer service employee turnover rate.
- There’s a couple other OEMs that have a stable support team but never respond to email or returns calls unless you call their new sales line.
- Some of the OEMs rely on your review of their blogs or searches of their chat group history.
- Some of these systems are initially inexpensive in the range of five to six thousand dollars. While others are more expensive and in the range of nine to eleven thousand dollars.
Here is our experience with manufacturers who produce their own “in house” stitch regulator and robotics systems:
- They know their stitch regulator and robotics systems very well as they have done the design and software engineering.
- Many of the OEM components used to build their product are well known product names like Dell, Hewlett-Packard, etc.
- Components are consistently available over long periods of time greatly reducing the repair time for your systems.
- Most rely on overseas OEMs to produce their circuit boards.
- Innova designed, manufactures, and repairs their circuit boards here in the USA.
- If you have a problem with your machine, they know they are accountable for the solution as the entire system is their product and they will work with you to get your system working correctly.
- Most manufacturers provide technical support during business hours (9am to 5pm) Monday through Friday.
- Accomplish Quilting has a trained and experienced team of people to provide technical support for the products we sell 24/7/365.
- Innova provides technical support you and Accomplish Quilting 24/7/365.
- These reliable stitch regulation and robotics systems range in price from ten to fifteen thousand dollars.