The term reliability is no longer just a “buzz word” in the manufacturing sector but a way of life. The strategy of replacing old equipment with new more reliable equipment is certainly within the realm of our new reliability life style provided it is well thought out and makes financial sense. First and foremost is safety. This is a “no brainer.” When the equipment presents an unacceptable safety risk to the plant, plant personnel or the environment - replace it! In a worse case scenario there could be loss of life or an environment incident. This is not only tragic all by itself, but can have even more catastrophic effects on an organization or even an entire industry. The consequences of choosing not to replace equipment for safety issues can represent not only huge financial losses, but even more important the loss of customer and public confidence. However, even considering a worse case situation, consideration must first be given to the possibility of upgrading the equipment in order to achieve an acceptable safety margin.
Determining when a piece of equipment has reached the end of its useful life cycle in the company’s overall reliability strategy can often be difficult if not looked at in the proper perspective. This is especially true in today’s business environment where the impetus is placed on the reduction of manufacturing cost and improving overall plant reliability. After all, equipment reliability directly relates to profitability and in the end, overall customer satisfaction - the only true indicator for increasing profitability. Another legitimate reason for replacing equipment is that it is no longer cost effective to maintain. This not only includes any changes in the original features of the equipment but also externally imposed changes such as those required by new governmental legislations (stack emission levels, waste disposal requirements, noise levels, etc.) In addition, maintenance cost associated with maintaining an acceptable equipment reliability level may be far too expensive or the cost and or availability of spare parts could become unacceptable from a business standpoint.