The Pros and Cons of Retrofitting Equipment
Aging is not only inevitable for all living things, but inanimate objects as well: Equipment used in business operations will, generally speaking, experience greater wear and tear as its volume of use increases. This is especially true for material handling equipment.
Material Handling Equipment Wear and Tear
Equipment used for transporting materials tends to experience the greatest wear and tear and is at a higher risk of damage because of its constant movement.
These effects primarily impact the wheels used to move the equipment. For transport carts and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV), it’s the casters that take the brunt: Fortunately, casters can be replaced fairly easily and give equipment new life.
In addition to replacing casters, retrofitting the equipment for new operations or challenges is an option.
A project we completed for NASA is a great example of this method. A risk was identified with the flooring in the facility: We retrofitted two large custom-built transport units to distribute the weight of the transports.
Click to read the NASA case study.
The Benefits of Retrofitting Equipment
Two main benefits of retrofitting equipment are:
- Reducing costs – Capital equipment and implementation costs.
- Saving time – Retrofits are often quicker and easier to implement, especially if the equipment is retrofitted during scheduled maintenance.
Additional benefits of retrofitting equipment:
- Waste reduction – Once the equipment is retired, it must be disposed of: No need to worry about where that old equipment will end up.
- Environmentally sustainable – Even if the equipment is recycled, it will most likely be melted down, producing smoke and other harmful gasses. Additionally, items like handles, fasteners, etc., cannot be recycled.
- Reduced risk of operator injury – Operators will not require training, nor will they need to adapt to new equipment.
While there are some valuable benefits to retrofitting equipment, the disadvantages and potential risks cannot be ignored. These include:
- Functional failure due to the age or usage of the equipment.
- The sacrifice of certain features or functions due to limits on modifications.
- Modifications that may void the warranty.
- Difficulty finding replacement or maintenance parts.
With that said, these risks are only applicable to specific equipment and should be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
How to Decide if Retrofitting Equipment is the Right Solution
First assess every piece of equipment being considered: check for any damage and structural integrity (if the equipment is at risk of failure, retrofitting should no longer be considered). Additionally, if the equipment is stable, consider the cost difference, which includes the price of new equipment vs. retrofitting and the cost of downtime, training, implementation, etc.
How We Can Help
Conceptual Innovations engineering services can assess your application and equipment to determine the best course of action for your needs. Contact us to learn more.