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When Should I Update My Manufacturing Equipment?

when should I update my manufacturing equipment

Manufacturing companies across a plethora of industries are in continual pursuit of increased efficiency and effectivity. Updating and upgrading equipment plays a significant role in operational excellence. However, maintenance teams may wonder when the best opportunity isto update equipment.

Below, we discuss proactive vs. reactive maintenance strategies, the benefits of updated equipment, and a simple evaluation designed to assess risk and identify optimization opportunities.

Proactive vs. Reactive Maintenance Strategies

In an era of uncertainty, a multitude of industries will be gradually shifting away from reactive maintenance to a predictive maintenance strategy. Although not an easy transition for many, companies experiencing a survival-of-the-fittest mentality within their respective fields understand the critical nature of proactive maintenance, upgraded equipment, and operational efficiency.

One manufacturing resource, Manufacturing.Net, insightfully comments:

“A predictive maintenance program increases consistency and efficiency and reduces waste in numerous ways compared to reactive maintenance, even though some companies have found it daunting to make the switch. Advances in technology are making the transition simpler and more attainable than it was in the past.”

These technological advances – including technologies conglomerated in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) – allow for easy access to massive amounts of asset and maintenance data.

What Does Predictive Maintenance Look Like?

While utilizing a predictive approach, maintenance teams can make informed decisions based on asset and maintenance data, such as evaluating asset health under normal operating conditions and taking steps to update equipment as needed. By regularly observing updated data, maintenance teams can:

  • Identify problematic performance indicators as they arise
  • Repair/ replace an asset before unplanned downtime occurs
  • Extend the life expectancy of a company asset by performing repairs before serious damage can take place
  • Proactively responding to current data, maintenance teams can use their time efficiently and effectively

Paying Attention to Reasons to Upgrade

While observing asset and maintenance data, maintenance teams should also consider common reasons to upgrade entire pieces of equipment machinery to prevent future inconvenience or costly downtime. A few of these reasons may include:

  • Safety standards have been updated and machinery no longer complies with amended safety standards
  • Upgrading equipment helps reduce labor costs
  • Replacing and upgrading equipment would reduce waste and increase accuracy
  • Machinery is outdated or obsolete, making maintenance and repair increasingly difficult
  • Machinery no longer meets updated functional or technical requirements
  • Upgrading equipment would improve efficiency and energy usage

What Are the Dangers of Reactive Maintenance?

Reactive maintenance occurs when an asset is already broken, and performance has unexpectedly ceased. Of course, a level of reactive maintenance is nearly always existent in most companies across most industries. Predicting every repair before it occurs is virtually impossible.

However, reactive maintenance should not define your maintenance strategy. Why?

  1. Reactive maintenance is expensive! Whether a company always keeps comprehensive stock of repair parts on hand or expedites shipping when an asset fails, reactive maintenance can be extremely costly as time progresses.
  2. Underperforming assets are inefficient. Machinery running at less-than-full capacity can waste energy.
  3. Reactive maintenance can be dangerous for employees, such as plant-floor workers. Manufacturing.Net explores the concept of heightened safety hazards surrounding reactive maintenance strategies: “When maintenance teams are trying to get assets running again quickly, they are operating with a sense of urgency. They may take risks or fail to follow best practices in their desire to get assets back online.”

While maintenance teams do not need to immediately switch all machinery and procedures to a proactive maintenance strategy, the path to predictive repairing and upgrading is extremely beneficial. Below, we explore a brief list of the primary benefits of upgraded machinery.

The Benefits of Upgrading Your Machinery

1. Increased Efficiency & Decreased Costs

As mentioned, outdated, obsolete, or underperforming assets significantly decrease efficiency. Companies in competitive fields value efficiency, and properly performing equipment plays a significant role in effective operation.

Updated machinery can increase speed, cut costs on energy, improve product turnover and performance, and sometimes reduce the need for staff performing basic tasks.

2. Increased Competitive Edge

Customers often view companies in relation to the competition in the field. How does one company compare to the others in its industry? Updated machinery is one way to ensure that a company stands out – always meeting customer demand with high-quality product and always guaranteeing consistent turnover times.

3. Demonstrated Innovation

Along with competitive standing, business success is often judged by the company brand or image. Customers, investors, potential employees, and peers appreciate signs of innovation and progressiveness. Upgrading and updating equipment is one way to stand out and demonstrate an up-and-coming enterprise.

4. Increased Reliability

Even with a system of proactive maintenance in place, filling your company with reliable machinery is extremely beneficial. Reliable equipment rarely needs repairs or servicing. If the reliability of a company’s machinery is reliant on consistent repairs, upgrading may be necessary.

Perform an FEL Evaluation

To evaluate missing issues or opportunities for improvement, companies should perform a Front-End Loading (FEL) evaluation. Also known as Pre-Project Planning (PPP), FEL evaluation often applies to conceptual project development, defined as the “process of developing sufficient strategic information with which owners can address risk and make decisions to commit resources in order to maximize the potential for a successful project.”

The FEL evaluation is often split into three phases, each containing a list of specific deliverables. Companies should adapt the evaluation to best fit their needs with the goal of identifying areas of potential risk and overlooked improvement.

Illinois Pulley & Gear: Proactive Pulley Replacement Part Manufacturer

At Illinois Pulley & Gear, we manufacture high-quality pulley replacement parts for a multitude of different applications. While specific pulley replacement parts can be challenging to find, we make acquiring parts simple. We simply receive your part and reverse-engineer the product within days.

For Chicagoland customers dedicated to a predictive maintenance approach, our team will drive to your location and examine the part in person, recreating it for repair before failure and downtime can occur.

With any questions about our team or pulley replacement parts, please do not hesitate to reach out at 847.407.9595 or via our online contact form.

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  • Illinois Pulley & Gear has provided precision machining services for us for over 5 years.  They have been consistently reliable, professional, and flexible from quoting to manufacturing and delivery.
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