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Protecting Equipment Investments

 

In many businesses, there is no single category of expenditures that can rival that of equipment. Purchasing or leasing is followed by training personnel, making daily repairs, continuing maintenance, and executing frequent upgrades. It can be a real drain on any company's budget, so management is always wise to seek out ways to reduce their overhead on machinery. Conversely, managers who neglect machinery will soon see the costly nature of their oversight.

Perhaps the best weapon for combating high machinery costs is the machinery itself. Buying the correct equipment in the first place is the most effective way to invest in long-term control of overhead. But assessing which equipment truly is best can be much easier said than done.

It begins with the design of the machinery. Everything with moving parts has stress points and areas of high wear and tear. If those areas aren't properly constructed, the machinery will be more likely to require more frequent repairs, to consume more energy, to make more errors, and ultimately to break down. And while there are quality materials that can increase the overall durability of the machine, it is cost-prohibitive to construct the entire unit from those specialized alloys.

Enter, wear blocks. These components are designed to operate in areas of the highest stress on machinery components, giving the machinery the advantages of less expensive materials in areas where they will work and more durable alloys where the demands of the machine call for it. The money and time saved in maintenance, replacement, energy and raw materials will quickly offset this more targeted reinforcement, helping the bottom line in both ways.

There is plenty of evidence that there is value in this investment. Many entrepreneurs have proven to be very successful going on site to repair equipment that doesn't have wear blocks or related technology. They find themselves making the same welds and repairs for customer after customer, and they're the best witnesses for the case of wear blocks.

Energy is another area of savings. We all know that when part of our body is sore or weak, it takes that much more work to get through the day. Anyone who's ever had a joint replacement can attest to that. The same is true of machinery. If the machine is not moving correctly, there can be problems with friction or alignment that force the machine to work that much harder to get its tasks completed. And the hard work of a machine translates to greater consumption of electricity, diesel fuel, gasoline, propane, or whatever powers the apparatus.

Downtime may actually lead the way in terms of savings with wear blocks. Maintenance can be a growing problem but it can remain fairly predictable. So can energy. But when a breakdown takes place, it's hard to know just how much it will cost. We can estimate a percentage of loss through breakdowns for each year, but there is no way to be sure how much the actual delays will cost us. We can lose perishable inputs, miss order deadlines, or run deep into overtime expenses, all in addition to the parts and labor required to get the machinery back online.

Speaking of wasted inputs, an inefficient machine will ruin a larger percentage of raw materials. Just as dull scissors will ruin a tailor's fabric, a machine that isn't working with precision will damage or waste a large number of raw materials.

New technology is making it easier to improve our machinery. With a good combination of proper purchasing and good maintenance, equipment costs can be kept in check and the bottom line can be supported toward profitability.

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