What is ATM First Line Maintenance?
If you own an ATM you are going to have to make decisions around how to take care of it. The industry basically divides ATM repairs into to categories: Second Line Maintenance and First Line Maintenance.
Second Line Maintenance applies to repairs that require a tool bag. Think of larger repairs that take a while to complete or involve parts replacement. Technicians need a higher level of training and expertise to complete these repairs. Second Line Maintenance doesn’t usually require access to the ATM vault, so many times Second Line Maintenance technicians do not have access to cash at all during the repair.
First Line Maintenance involves much more basic situations. ATMs are somewhat touchy, so even minor things can take them out of service. When paper moves through a machine, it can cause problems. For example, the receipt paper sometimes jams up. More often, cash jams bring a machine down. Especially because cash tends to be in poor shape, which makes it more likely to cause jams.
Other First Line Maintenance events include card reader faults that just need a basic reset to resolve. Sometimes the ATM just needs a reboot, since most ATMs are Windows-based. Each of these is pretty basic and doesn’t require much training. Many credit unions and banks do their own First Line Maintenance because it is easy to train the branch personnel how to fix the minor problems that arise.
First Line Maintenance repairs occur much more often than Second Line Maintenance repairs.
One unique feature of First Line Maintenance is that it requires access to the ATM vault, which can raise security issues.
Cash handling is entirely separate from SLM and FLM. Cash handling is simply the function of replenishing cash to the ATM. That said, some cash handling companies will also write FLM contracts. It’s a natural function for them because they are already accessing the vault and it doesn’t require much additional training for their staff.
Situations that work well for First Line Maintenance
Remote ATMs where access is difficult
Many areas can be serviced well by a stand-alone ATM. An additional customer base can be accessed without the construction of a full-service branch. Since these machines do not have staff nearby, they require a First Line Maintenance agreement with a service company. When the machine has a fault, it generally can ask for help through automated messages going out through the network provider directly to the service company.
Limit access to Cash
For ATMs that are located in the branch, a First Line Maintenance agreement is a good idea if there is concern about security. It would be better to leave those events to a qualified service company to resolve rather than expose your team to possible danger related to accessing the cash vault.
Focus on customer service
Many people choose to have a first line maintenance agreement simply because they do not want their team distracted by ATM repairs. They want the staff totally focused on customer service and ATM events can be very distracting, even if the repair is minor.
How to access a First Line Maintenance agreement
You can purchase a First Line Maintenance agreement from a number of different sources: directly from a qualified service company, from your cash handler, or from an equipment management company.
- Directly with a service company. These companies often extend annual or multi-year agreements to provide First Line Maintenance. They often require an underlying Second Line Maintenance agreement for any repairs that become more advanced than just First Line issues. Many times the same technician who does First Line Maintenance is trained on Second Line Maintenance, so if the issue ends up being more involved, they are qualified to handle it.
- Cash handler. Not all cash handlers will perform First Line Maintenance. The advantage here is that they already have access to the vault. The disadvantage is that they are not generally able to do anything more than First Line Maintenance events, so they will need to contact an ATM service company if the issue is more involved.
- Equipment Management Company. These companies do not have technicians but utilize approved service companies on your behalf. The advantage is that you are not locked into one service company for a long period of time or of all of your machines. These companies are often able to manage all of the equipment in your organization, so it provides one approach for everything. They are often less expensive than direct contracts.
Downside of FLM
- Cost. First Line Maintenance Agreements range in cost, depending on what kind of ATM you have, it’s location and the service company you use. The range is usually $900 – $1,500 per terminal each year.
- Still have Out of Scope. You will still have some out of scope costs, usually around software events or cash handling issues. But your out of scope should be greatly reduced, compared to only having Second Line Maintenance coverage. You can further limit out of scope charges if you have an ATM Managed Services agreement.
First Line Maintenance is required for every ATM, the only question is how you want to handle it. If you want to do it yourself, download this handy guide. If you would rather have it handled by a professional, contact us to begin the process of selecting a qualified provider.