Every manufacturer is working to improve profitability, and efficiency is often the first place they set their sights. Successful companies already have a clear understanding of how their people, equipment, and process are performing–but some overlook these three things that can get a quick return on investment, reduce downtime, and have a real impact on the bottom line.
1) I Cannot Afford to Buy All New Equipment
The high cost of an obsolete part from an OEM or eBay often seems insignificant when you are trying to keep the plant running. But downtime costs are exponentially increased while you search the internet for replacement parts, or look for a qualified technician to service your equipment. You stand to lose a lot of money each time the equipment fails. With this in mind, modernization of key assets will have a more significant return on investment than you may have considered and it might be time to get an upgrade.
2) My People Know How to Run These Old Machines
Qualified operators and maintenance personnel are tough to find and everyone is doing what they can to keep the good people they have. But modernized control systems with simpler operator interfaces and more common hardware make it easier to train new employees. This also increases the pool of qualified candidates capable of operating or maintaining the equipment. There is one more advantage; people both old and young would rather work with modern technology. It makes employees feel like the company they work for cares about their safety and productivity.
3) It Costs too Much to Connect this Old Stuff to the Network
Cost is a huge factor when considering machine connectivity as a part of your performance management strategy. It really doesn’t cost any more to connect a legacy piece of equipment than it would to connect a modern one. What you gain by modernizing is the quality of information coming from the machine. Legacy equipment allows you to get status data (producing or not), but if you want true performance, quality, asset health, or traceability information, a modern controller can provide it. Especially if you design it in when you modernize.
You may not have considered modernization as an option because it can be expensive. But it is also very necessary to compete. You want to draw from the largest possible pools of employee candidates, train them quickly, and retain them with a great work environment. That includes having reliable equipment that is easy to operate and maintain, while also providing great information to users and leadership so they may make timely and impactful decisions each minute.