New is not always best when dealing with faulty machines
LAST MONTH, I wrote about the best time to update your computer's hardware and software and now I would like to take the spotlight from the office and shine it where the magic truly happens: the shop floor. Home to large and complex equipment like mobile engine generator sets, lathes, welding machines, balancing equipment, and bum-off ovens, a shop brings along a whole new set of headaches. Equipment malfunctions can lead to a slowdown in production, and solutions to these problems almost always result in high costs. The price of new equipment can often exceed tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the item.
When a machine is no longer working, the big question becomes: Should I repair or replace? Repairing equipment is often cheaper but can delay the inevitable complete shutdown. Replacing can result in a faster, possibly more efficient machine but comes with steep expenses and time lost from learning how to use the completely new model. Here, the people who are involved in the dayto-day work on the shop floor will present their thoughts and experiences on how to handle equipment problems. To repair or to replace? The answer is not as easy as one might think.
Cost as a driving factor
"Whether to repair or replace something depends on the cost of the repair," said
In order to accomplish these tasks, the company's shop includes four lathes, a balancing machine with 5,000 lbs. weight capacity, a bumout/dip/ bake system with dip tank capacity of 4.5 square feet by 5 feet deep of usable space, a 5-ton overhead bridge crane, a 3-ton stationary crane, and a number of smaller jib cranes. This wide array of equipment has a rich history made possible by continuous repairs instead of full replacement.
The smaller lathes are from the 1940's, present from the company's founding in 1947. Most of the other equipment is from the 1970's. Funk feels that older equipment was built to last for very long periods of time; newer equipment is more disposable, good for about ten years before breaking down.
Cost is one of the driving factors when considering whether to repair or replace. Buying a new model is significantly more expensive than a single repair, but the costs of part replacement and continuous maintenance on an old machine could eventually exceed the cost of a replacement. If a piece of equipment like a milling machine or vacuum lifter is in need of repairs annually, it might be time to think "big picture" and take it out to pasture. Longterm costs need to be given as much consideration as immediate costs.
The benefits of repair
So you've decided to repair a piece of equipment? Ordering a new part can lead to a few annoyances as well. Specific parts may be obsolete or in limited supply. "If a part is obsolete, we completely replace a section or the entire item," said
The company's facility in
"We service our equipment every six months to keep on top of things," Soto said. "We've found that as long as we continue our regular sixmonth maintenance, we don't need to repair as often." Regular maintenance can make the repair or replace question completely unnecessary. Always give your machines repeated and in-depth attention even when they are running without a hitch. That way you can pinpoint possible trouble areas and address them before a larger malfunction occurs, wasting a large amount of time and money.
This strategy has led
The right time to replace
When is the right time to opt for replacing equipment?
The time it takes to leam how to operate is not the only thing working against current models of equipment. According to
The provider of electric motor rewinding and dynamic balancing of armatures for local government, federal contractors, and private industry puts older equipment to work more frequently. The shop contains a 70-year-old winding machine that was repaired throughout the years. Also included are a six-foot-diameter vacuum pressure impregnation (VPI) system, burnout oven with over temperature protection, vertical and horizontal mills, and a 5-ton overhead crane.
Culpepper agrees with
Let us know what you think about repairing and replacing shop equipment. Do you agree that repair is highly preferred over replacement? How often do you repair your equipment? How often do you replace? In the future, do you see your company performing more repairs over replacement or vice versa? Please respond by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
EA Associate Editor
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