Author: Paul Stuebbe, Process Plus Senior Packaging Engineer
April 14, 2014
Which is the better option: purchase new equipment or relocate and upgrade existing equipment? Answering the following questions early in an equipment relocation project can potentially identify cost, schedule and resource impacts not originally considered at the project’s inception. You may find the better option is to reevaluate the project scope and purchase new equipment rather than relocating and upgrading the existing equipment to comply with project requirements.
1. Is the equipment safe and does it meet today’s safety requirements? Once relocated and reinstalled the equipment must comply with local and federal safety requirements. Often today’s safety standards are much more stringent than the standards to which the equipment was originally designed and built to.
2. How does the equipment perform?
Audit the equipment while it is still in production to determine the actual operating rate, reliability and scrap rate. In addition to determining the actual equipment throughput, determine the staffing requirements. The equipment capacity and limitations should also be evaluated during the audit. Many projects start out planning only to produce the existing product(s) but end up running additional products.
3. How will the equipment be relocated?
It is critical the equipment is removed with reinstallation in mind. Match marking both mechanical and electrical connection points is often not enough. Photos and written documentation – including termination drawings – should be developed before and during the disassembly. It is extremely important to have this information readily available during the installation.
4. Who will remove and relocate the equipment?
Identify the resources removing and installing the equipment. Typically the project will proceed smoother by using the same resources as opposed to multiple crews. Provide supervision during the equipment removal to protect your interest during the installation.
5. Does the OEM still support the equipment?
If not, identify qualified resource(s) for technical assistance, spare parts and change parts.
6. What is the age and condition of the equipment?
Evaluate the equipment to determine the status of the electronics. Often older equipment’s controls and sensors are obsolete. Evaluate all the mechanical prime movers to determine wear and possible component replacement needs.
7. Does the equipment meet the plant standards?
Develop a check list of all the plant requirements and evaluate the equipment noting both compliance and non-compliances. Determine whether or not it is feasible to upgrade the equipment to full compliance, as this is not always possible. If feasible, identify the projected cost to bring systems up to standards.
8. Will the equipment be brought up to the current plant standards? Determine the ramifications on the project budget, schedule and resources to upgrade the equipment to comply, as well as the implications of non-compliance.
9. Does the equipment have accurate documentation?
Hard copy manuals are very beneficial, as they include operation, parts, maintenance, troubleshooting, changeover, exploded drawings and electrical schematics. Audit equipment manuals to ensure they are up to date and accurately reflect the existing equipment. Download all electrical software programs with comments prior to equipment removal.
10. Are there specific product or operating environment requirements the equipment must adhere to?
For example, if the equipment is used in a food or pharmaceutical application, equipment cleanability is a major concern. The following should be noted during the equipment audit: materials of construction, equipment construction, horizontal surfaces, quality and type of welds.