The machines on your shop floor are designed to last for years. But what happens when you update your technology and the older machines are left behind? Integrating legacy hardware and software may seem like an insurmountable task when compared with the ever-changing advancements in technology, but it’s an important thing to do. Learn more about legacy machines, preventative maintenance, and more below!
Legacy machines are the machines that have been on a production line for years, most often decades, that are still a vital part of the manufacturing process. Most commonly, these machines are found in smaller machine shops where the budget to purchase a new machine simply isn’t there. They still work well and do the job they were designed to do. However, the challenge is finding replacement parts and people who know how to repair these machines.
Purchasing new equipment is very costly, and in many cases is neither affordable nor practical. A new machine can cost tens of thousands of dollars, often even more. It is important for shop managers and business owners to find a way to continue using their equipment even when technology advances.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This old adage basically says that by keeping up with maintenance, you prevent a larger issue from happening down the line. Rather than operating on a predetermined schedule, using predictive maintenance means only performing upkeep on machines when necessary. Of course, that depends on collecting data from common machine elements, such as motors and actuators, which in turn means instrumenting those elements on older equipment.
Many older machines are made of extremely durable material, such as iron and steel. They are designed to last for a long time, and predictive maintenance is a great way to keep them going for years. In fact, they are conceptually not too different from the machines of today (other than computer numeric control). Think of a bicycle: even 100 years ago, they still had two pedals and two wheels. While designs and technology may have changed, the basics have not.
Think of condition monitoring as a part of predictive. Condition monitoring is the process of monitoring a part or the whole of a machine and looking for anything that may be running out of whack. By monitoring the machine, you can predict when something may go awry and fix it before the need for greater maintenance comes along.
The most common issue business owners and shop managers face with legacy machines is keeping them up and running to meet demand. The older a machine gets, the less people there are who know how to fix them. Therefore, when something goes wrong, business owners may have a more difficult time finding someone with the knowledge necessary to make the repair.
Another common issue stems from technology compatibility. Legacy machines are often not equipped to handle more updated technology, so it is more difficult to integrate them into your digital strategy. While usually not impossible, it can be very difficult to find someone who can assist with getting your specific machine up to date. This is especially true if the machine is very old or if the manufacturer it came from is no longer in business.
Many OEMs or distributors might consider a legacy machine to be a lower priority when it comes to service. Many think they shouldn’t use a highly trained/paid technician to fix a machine that is past warranty or not under a current service contract. A lot of OEM techs don’t even know how to fix a legacy machine since the OEM doesn’t make them anymore. Additionally, younger techs were never trained how to repair these machines, and many have never seen them before.
If you have a legacy machine and are experiencing difficulty finding someone to assist with maintenance or integrate it with your technology, download The UP! App! Connect with a national network of service providers who are familiar with both legacy and current machines in a matter of minutes. Read more about us here!