Lifecycle management: Have a retirement plan for your aging equipment

When you first acquire or install new equipment in your facility, it's an exciting feeling. The new technologies embedded into the asset make your operation more productive, and it likely even has modern features that improve safety.

No piece of equipment lasts forever, though. Someday, there will be new technologies that push the performance of that type of machinery even further, and your equipment will become outdated. New trends in supply chain, such as the increasing influence of ecommerce, will also render certain facility features obsolete or insufficient to keep up with demand. Further, after years (or even decades) of use, equipment will become worn and begin to perform less efficiently.

This describes the lifecycle of all types of equipment, whether you're talking about the forklifts, conveyors and dock levelers in your facility or the refrigerator in your own home. But while you may know that someday your new equipment will need to be replaced, not all facility managers have a long-term end-of-life management plan to carry out that process.

Predict when you'll need to retire your equipment

The first step in having a strong equipment replacement plan is to understand the typical lifecycle for that asset. The manufacturer should have a general idea of how long the unit should last, whether that's in number of years, total hours of run time or another unit.

If you're replacing a piece of aging equipment with an upgraded model, you may be able to use information from the outgoing asset to inform your forecasting. For example, if your previous dock leveler had a seven-year life expectancy, but it began showing signs of wear and overuse after three years, take this into consideration when planning the next time you'll need to invest in a new leveler.

Once you have a rough idea of when you'll need to replace equipment, you can begin planning for that expense. Additionally, while you should conduct regular inspections and maintenance throughout the life of the asset, knowing when the unit may begin to deteriorate will give you an idea of when to increase the frequency of reviews and tune-ups.

Recognize the right time to replace equipment

Your predictions may not always be accurate. The manufacturer can only provide a guess based on typical usage, and your operation may have nuances that the fabricators didn't take into consideration.

Additionally, your previous assets may have lasted for more or fewer years depending on a number of factors, such as:

  • Materials and method of construction.
  • Intensity of daily operations (which can change as your business grows or shrinks).
  • Types of actions being performed (such as if a new process is introduced to your operation).

For these reasons, don't rely on your predictions alone to determine when it's time to replace equipment. You should also use the information you gather through inspections, maintenance requests and other data to gauge how the equipment is performing. Waiting too long to replace your equipment can lead to unexpected hold-ups in your facility. On the other hand, there's no reason to retire equipment before its useful life is over.

Implement an equipment replacement plan

Knowing the right time to retire your equipment may not always be perfectly clear. However, with a sustained inspection and maintenance schedule, it's much easier to determine when assets begin to deteriorate or slow down.

With Miner, you can create a preventive maintenance schedule that works for your operation. Plus, our service professionals will be able to give you helpful advice as to when you'd benefit from a replacement, what types of equipment would suit your operation best and can even help install them properly. To learn more, request a quote online.