The real key was the support, says client in need.

Automotive manufacturer BWI Group recently made a big change in the company's supply chain, deciding to use Siemens PLC equipment over a previous supplier. An illustrative experience in discovering a cost-savings solution led to their story being featured in the latest issue of Automation World Magazine — and as an integral partner in BWI's success, C&E Advanced Technologies was shown in the article to be the type of automation distributor that goes the extra mile to help a customer.

According to BWI controls engineer Bill Taylor, the chassis supplier—who, in 2009, acquired what was formerly the Chassis Division of Delphi Corporation and who recently broke ground on a new facility in Central Indiana—was in a real bind. Under pressure to deliver cost cuts, automation increases and efficiency improvements, Taylor's team needed help taking on a set of challenges presented by malfunctioning PLC equipment. Not only did seeking assistance with those challenges turn up no solution, but it also led to their supplier asking BWI for an additional support contract, one that had a prohibitive price tag of about $200,000 annually.

At the end of the day, BWI was just not getting adequate support from its PLC vendor, and the proposed cost increase threatened to put a hold on some of their North American operations. That prompted Taylor to reconsider an already shaky business relationship in the pursuit of a mission saving alternative.

Luckily for Taylor, the act of providing the kind of support his team needed is something C&E has standardized as a way to forge new industry bonds. Jeff Weaver is the C&E Automation Specialist who worked with Taylor and BWI to help solve their problems—and according to both him and the client, a focus on partnership was what motivated the two organizations to sync up.

"The support we have given Bill and BWI is not atypical of what we do at C&E," said Weaver. "We support the customer from project inception through completion."

Weaver explains that the company's goal is to make customers more successful and more capable with C&E's product solutions.

"While we are not functioning as a system integrator, we do work with our customers keeping a 'teach them to fish' approach," continued Weaver.

Recalling his assistance in overcoming the BWI challenges, Weaver describes a Profinet IRT communications issue they were having at a Poland location as the fun one. He worked with Taylor's team to successfully identify the problem and explained how to correct it.

"A few minutes later, I got a voicemail from Bill telling me it was successful and I have a new friend in Poland," Weaver added.

Ultimately, BWI's satisfaction with Siemens' products and service combined with the proactive support from C&E resulted in their new facility being significantly outfitted with Siemens equipment. And the experience shared between distributor and customer provided a standard-setting example to the automation supply community.