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Should you buy new? Helping SME’s unlock the benefits of Manufacturing 4.0

The fourth manufacturing revolution (Manufacturing 4.0) describes the creation of smart factories (See figure below). A smart factory utilizes intelligent, automated machines to streamline the manufacturing process. This means less staff, 24/7 operation and more profit for the manufacturer.

While this sounds great, in Australia a lot of small to medium sized manufacturers lack the capital, expertise and equipment needed to embrace the fourth manufacturing revolution. In fact, many factories still use equipment from the 1980’s.

Most production lines built in the 1980’s have less computational power than a modern washing machine. Old machinery and equipment comes with hidden costs including:

  • Frequent repair and maintenance work
  • Lost time due to breakdowns
  • More staff required to operate machines
  • Difficulty sourcing parts

If a company has been prolonging the financial sting of upgrading their equipment for 30-40 years, then they probably are not in a position to spend hundreds of thousands upgrading to the latest and greatest equipment.

For these organizations, one of the smartest steps they can take is to upgrade to second hand equipment that was built in the last 10 to 15 years.

This is an extremely cost effective move. Equipment built around this time has the majority of the functions you would expect to find in equipment released this year, but for a fraction of the price.

The sweet spot seems to be choosing  plant and equipment that was built 10 to 15 years ago. This tends to have the functionality and connectivity of the latest cutting edge technology with a greatly reduced price tag (see image below).

Aside from cost, there are other factors that companies must be wary about when upgrading from legacy equipment to state of the art equipment including:

  • Current staff’s ability to operate the new machinery;
  • The equipment’s capability to work alongside the older equipment;
  • The steep learning curve needed to implement new production lines;
  • The risks often associated with being an early adopter.

The latest and the greatest technology isn’t practical for most organizations. Instead, most companies are better off upgrading to used but highly capable technology built in the last 15 years. These machines are tried and tested, will fit in with your existing production line and won’t require an entirely different skillset to run.

Capital Machinery have been helping factories around Australia select used and refurbished machinery for decades. If you are considering upgrading your plant and machinery, get in touch with us today.

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