Maurizio Marcocci of Service Sphere discusses the differences in repairing versus replacing equipment, and how to tell when your machine is on its last legs.
The lifespan of a coffee machine can vary greatly. So many factors come into play, including vend amount, servicing, brand, quality of machine, user error – the list goes on.
Just like an old car ticking over in the morning or putting along on a freeway and stalling every now and then, there’s often warning signs that something’s not quite right with an old faithful machine. But how do you tell the difference between equipment that needs replacing versus repair?
First, a good indication of a machine’s lifecycle is to check for a label with a build date or serial number. About five to seven years for a high-end machine is about right, and five years for a lower budget machine. It’s important to know the behaviour of your machine and pay attention to three key elements: sight, taste, and sense. By looking, drinking and smelling your coffee, you can roughly establish the health of your machine.
Furthermore, some of the sure signs that your machine needs attention include:
- There are puddles or drips in places. Usually, this is a sign that your seals have become brittle and are no longer working as required. If one leaks, usually most are worn.
- There is a lack of steam pressure. This means the boiler and components are overfilling and parts are not working correctly requiring further inspection.
- There’s a burnt taste in the coffee. This is caused by water scaling in the lines. Overtime, the heat exchange blocks up with build-up of scaling and the coffee becomes burnt with hot water.
- The steam and/or hot water tastes off, or has a bad smell. This is a super easy indication that once again that scale in the boiler and lines are to blame.
Ultimately, how does your coffee taste? Having good beans and good milk are a must, but if you have both of those things and notice the coffee is still not tasting great, then there’s a larger issue at play.
Ok, so if the above scenarios apply to your machine, then it’s time to get serious about your machine’s future, and ask: do I replace the broken parts or go for a brand new machine?
A friendly technician like one from the team at Service Sphere will be able to guide you through the next process, but we know it can be a tough one. We love all our machines but sometimes parts simply get broken. Knowing what to do next is a matter of weighing up the pros and cons.
The advantages of repairing a machine:
- The machine may simply require a cheap component and will return back to its former glory in no time
- User knowledge on particular machine which may not be available anymore
- Save money. No replacement machine, no excessive cost
- Minimal decision making. A repair is a far easier decision to make than scaling through a catalogue of machines to work out which one’s right for you and your needs.
The disadvantages of repairing a machine:
- Parts may be no longer be available and non-genuine replacement parts may have to be used
- It may be difficult to replace new parts on an old worn out machine.
- Expensive and not economically viable in the long term
- Little improvement. A repair may buy you time but it may not be a permanent solution. A repaired machine may also be challenged with keeping up with consumer demand, such as warming up the boiler tank.
However, before you get to replacement stage, there are some important things to consider if you want to help extend the life of a coffee machine.
- Install a good quality water filter. Water filters are used to prevent unwanted particles from entering the machine. By installing filters, less unwanted material will flow through the water lines, thus decreasing the likeliness of scale in the machine, which overtime can take over the machine and ruin it
- Regular servicing. Service Sphere recommends Preventative Maintenance. By doing so, you are not acting on reactive issues and doing quick fixes but ensuring machines are operating to their capacity. Depending on the volume you’re using your coffee machine, our dedicated team at Service Sphere can ensure you have a regular 12-month or more service to ensure any issues are addressed early before reaching crucial point. The last thing you want is an emergency breakdown to throw you out of business for days, if not weeks. Preventative Maintenance is your best bet to keeping your machine in healthy working order
- Replace old parts and follow manufacture specs. Using genuine spares that have been rigorously tested as opposed to a cheaper, often far inferior product
- When replacing one component, think what else could be done at this point to avoid additional trips to a technician and additional costs down the track.
Repair is certainly one option, but what if you took the leap and replaced your machine altogether with something new and shiny. In the past year, I’ve noticed that more people are choosing to move towards full and semi-automatic machines offering better capabilities as opposed to fixing individual parts. This seems pretty logical really.
The benefits of replacing a coffee machine:
- Warranty is in date. Should there be anything wrong in the early stages of the machine’s life, most big issues will be covered by the manufacturer
- Guaranteed customer support from manufacturers and technicans. Technicians are not always familiar with older models and their intricacies.
- Parts are easy to locate and technicians are trained. For every new machine and model, technicians and service providers have learnt the ins and outs of the machines to help their customers maximise their usage. Pick their brains and be a sponge for information so you can utilise the machine to its full capacity. And for whatever reason, if a part needed replacing, the newer the model the easier it would be to locate a replacement, unlike older parts.
- The cleanliness of internals. Observe how lovely and clean the machine is – now try to keep it this way. A healthy machine is a happy machine, and this is the chance to treat it right from the start before dirt and scale start causing problems. This can be monitored with a regular preventative maintenance schedule, but the last thing you want to do is follow any bad habits from your last machine. Use this clean slate to look after your machine from the get-go.
- Increased features and performance.The great thing about buying a new coffee machine is that they’re constantly updated. Newer machine offer features that are invaluable to managing workload, service and volume, such as telemetry, Bluetooth options, improved steam capacity, greater temperature control, greater consistency, warranty, aesthetics, improved functions – the list goes on. Old machines often have none of this
- Newer technology. Undoubtedly a new machine will have the cream of the crop when it comes to the most advanced technology. Back with the Black Eagle T3 came out and the Eversys Cameo, these machines had the latest and greatest of everything. The next models will strive for much the same innovation.
The disadvantages of replacing a coffee machine:
- Lengthy decision to make. Coming to terms with the decision to buy a new machine is one thing, the next is actually finding ‘the one’. You can be sitting on the fence between two or three models, but much like buying a new car, you need to road-test them to see how it could fit into your environment
- Time needed to learn new functions. Training a new staff member on any machine is time consuming to begin with, but if you purchase some from scratch it means you will have to become a pro on the machine yourself before teaching others
- Costly exercise. There’s no easy way round this fact. It’s going to pinch at first but what’s that saying? Short-term pain for long term gain
It can be hard to let go of your tried and tested machine for a newer and often shinier upgrade. In my opinion, consider how long you’ve had your machine and have a good think about whether replacing a broken part will fix your problem.
At Service Sphere, we service new and old machines. We have a huge service department and spare parts centre backed by manufacturers, so we do it all, but ask yourself: if I repair a part, will I be jumping into the problem treadmill with one issue creating another? Is it even worth it?
This article appears in FULL in the April 2019 edition of BeanScene Magazine. Subscribe HERE.