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Renovate or replace?

Renovate or replace? With Britain looking to rebuild its manufacturing sector, we look at the benefits of old machinery automation and modernisation instead of buying new machinery.

In today's economy, anyone involved in production is looking at improving production output and efficiency and often this involves buying newer, faster and more automated machinery to reduce the amount of labour needed and to increase the speed of production. This concept is correct and good but often capital is limited and often you may not even be able to find the machine that you actually want on the market. So consider instead the concept of automating and modernising your current machinery before going down the route of spending tens or even hundreds of thousands on new machinery.

If you go out into almost any industry you find that old machinery is often doing exactly what it should, but it is possibly a bit slow, is very likely to involve more labour input to run than a modern machine and it may also be breaking down more often than you would like. This is very common and often just lived with, but it does not have to be that way; for very little cost you can get your old machinery overhauled, modernised and automated bringing it up to a standard that is often as good as, or better than, a new machine.

If we look into the concept of not buying new machinery but automating the old, there are many benefits. The biggest benefit we have already mentioned and that is cost; overhauling, modernising and automating old machinery is often a fraction of the cost of buying a new machine to do the same job. Other common benefits are increased production speed, accuracy and repeatability, reduced down time, reduced labour costs, improved safety features complying to modern safety standards and much more. A key feature of this concept is that you can add in custom automation and additional special purpose features that standard new machinery would be unlikely to offer you. Finally integrating a new machine into your production line can often be difficult and involve quite a few changes to the layout of your production line, whereas by using your current machinery very little or no modification to the layout of your production line will be needed saving a lot of installation time.

So how do you go about getting your machinery overhauled and modernised and automated? This is really up to your engineering team and what skills you do or don't have on site, but often it is best to outsource this type of work. To implement concept properly does require good planning and a large range of skills in automation. A project would typically involve stripping the machine down to its component parts, sourcing and manufacturing new parts where necessary, re-assembling and adding in the new automation features and control systems. This will then need to be reintegrated back into the production environment. Obviously some factories may have facilities to do this in house, but to give the optimum levels of automation and keep downtime to a minimum while the machinery is being overhauled, it is often best to get a specialist automation company in to help you.

Granta Pneumatics and Automation is one company with years of experience in this field. It has completed many old machinery automation and modernisation projects very successfully with a good track record. It also offers free project appraisal, meaning you can analyse how well this concept could work without any cost to you at all.

You might be thinking that your old machinery could never be improved to be as good as a new machine but the fact is that more often than not this is simply not true. In fact companies that have tried this concept properly claim that old machinery has been improved to make it as good as, or better than, new machinery.
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