Achieving Returns on Capital Investments
Significant investments into new equipment often come with a long payback period rendering them less cost-effective during their first several years in operation. Instead, manufacturers can consider an extended life for their existing machines. Strategic integration of upgrades and new technologies into older machines can be a cost-effective way to delay the need for new equipment without harming production rates. These updates will make the machines more energy-efficient, simpler and safer to run, and deliver better productivity.
In terms of manufacturing equipment that can cost upwards of several hundred thousand dollars, industrial manufacturing retrofits are the way to gain new features and extend the operational life of an old machine.
Industrial Manufacturing Retrofits
The purpose of a strategic retrofit is to integrate new features or technologies while retaining most of the original structure of the equipment. For example, a common retrofit opportunity involves implementing automation technology to streamline inefficient processes such as changeovers.
One way to accomplish this is using sensors that are IoT-enabled. These devices allow machines to transfer data back and forth while automating certain functions, but they were still in development just ten years ago. In a move to avoid heavy dependence on manual processes, industrial manufacturers are implementing IoT enabled sensors that will streamline entire production lines through efficient automated processes.
By implementing automation technologies, manufacturers can eliminate or reduce the reliance on workers who must access individual sections to make adjustments manually. Other common retrofit opportunities include legacy motor systems and manual profile monitoring.
Control Retrofits: What You Need to Know
One of the primary benefits of choosing industrial retrofits is the lower investment cost. This is possible because only those components that require updating are replaced while the rest of the machine remains intact.
Many industrial manufacturers seek specific outcomes for improvements such as increasing equipment uptime, boosting performance, reducing energy usage, incorporating digital technologies, and making equipment easier to use. Targeted retrofits are recommended in these situations to avoid replacing entire machines.
Still, manufacturers must accept that even highly targeted retrofits cannot avoid all instances of downtime as the individual sections that require new components often need to be taken offline to perform the updates. Depending on the project, most service providers can minimize the downtime necessary using modeling. It is also critical for manufacturers to avoid reactionary plans to current or short-term fluctuations and consider their future needs when contemplating retrofits.
Minimize Downtime With Phased Retrofits
Approaching a project in phases so only the individual sections being worked on must be stopped will reduce shutdowns. One service provider recently worked with an industrial manufacturer to develop a retrofit solution that would make their equipment safer and more reliable. The manufacturer’s current system was utilizing outdated controls that could not be replaced and, facing the possibility of a catastrophic breakdown, updates were necessary.
The service provider began with an analysis of the system. Then, the motor system was upgraded, and remote monitoring equipment incorporated. The last step was to perform an in-depth machine safety study with the goal of identifying where the work environment for production and maintenance staff needed to be improved. These improvements were then laid out in a carefully-planned timeline to keep downtime to a minimum for the manufacturer.
Choosing an integrator with extensive experience incorporating components and optimizing system performance will be highly beneficial when implementing retrofits. Otherwise, an improvement in one section could lead to unintentional slowdowns or bottlenecks in other areas resulting in missing the goal of improving productivity rates.
No Two Retrofits are the Same
Most people in the industrial manufacturing sector know that no two shops are the same. Every layout and configuration of equipment will be different, and the demands of production lines depend heavily on the industry, the application, and the specific manufacturer. In other words, the timelines and budgets that one manufacturer worked with will not work with another.
Whom you choose to evaluate your equipment and integrate new technology is critical, if an accurate assessment is to be performed, a practical plan developed, and a successful outcome achieved. Quad Plus has extensive experience with the various processes, hardware assortments, and legacy equipment programming specifics across many industries.
If you’d like additional information on strategic integration of upgrade options for your machine or if you’d like assistance developing a practical migration plan, please contact Jim Woulf at (920) 515-4155 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.