When to Replace Equipment: Key Considerations

At some point every facility manager will need to decide whether an asset is worth repairing or if it should be replaced. It’s not always an easy decision. Industrial equipment is expensive, replacements take time and final decisions may require careful strategy to avoid complications.

While planned maintenance can help lengthen equipment life spans and reduce downtime caused by equipment malfunctions or failures, there will still come times when an asset must be replaced. Use the following benchmarks to determine when to replace your assets:

Know age and life span expectations

As equipment gets older, it’s bound to start slowing down. Aging equipment is the leading factor behind 42 percent of unplanned downtime, according to Plant Engineering’s 2017 maintenance study.

“The average age of material handling equipment is 15.3 years.”

This may not come as a surprise considering results from a Tompkins Supply Chain Consortium survey, which found that the average age of material handling equipment is 15.3 years. More than one-third of respondents said they had at least one piece of equipment that was older than 20 years. Twenty percent said downtime and lost productivity were two of their biggest obstacles.

Though the survey focused on material handling equipment, it’s important to note that these issues apply to all types of machinery in your facility. An aging warehouse fan, for example, will also decrease in efficiency as it ages, as will an automatic door opener or dock leveler. The expected lifespan of each individual piece of equipment is an essential fact that facility managers must keep in mind. As certain items approach the ages at which they’re likely to slow down or fail, it’s more important than ever to plan regular maintenance.

Track changes in productivity

Declining productivity is a tough metric to track day to day. In many cases, productivity will decrease slowly over the course of years. Keeping track of equipment performance and taking the time to review dips in efficiency can clue you into which pieces of equipment need tune-ups, thorough root cause analysis or all-out replacement.

In your planned maintenance routine, pay careful attention to any changes to the frequency at which assets are scheduled for repair and how often assets actually require a repair when maintenance is scheduled, as well as which assets are showing their age prematurely and why. This information will help you understand the life spans of your equipment more deeply.

Stay up to date on advancing technologies

If your facility has been around for many years, chances are the types of equipment you use, the processes you follow and even the layout of your facility haven’t changed much. When replacing equipment, be thoughtful about it: Don’t simply replace an item with the latest model because the latest model is available. Make sure the asset still makes sense for your company and that the updated version includes features that would tangibly enhance your operations.

Your warehouse racking system, for example, might work well enough, but would an automated storage and retrieval system be better? Would you benefit from upgrading your loading dock from a manual overhead door with a pull-chain dock leveler to automatic models fitted with dock seals? Ask yourself where you can upgrade to improve productivity, make your employees’ jobs safer and decrease downtime.

When you need to create a preventive maintenance plan or replace aging equipment in your facility, reach out to Miner. Our service professionals can tune up your assets and identify ways to upgrade your facility.