Equipment Modernization: When It's Right For Your And What To Know Before Moving Forward
Your favorite machine stands at the heart of your packaging line. Day after day, it always performs. Now, however, things have changed, and your company just sparked a new marketing campaign complete with a brand-new packaging idea that is conflicting with that machine. Suddenly the solution you need is no longer compatible with your favorite machine.
What do you do?
You could buy a new machine to meet the demand but implementing it could take half a year to complete and even longer to recoup your monetary investment. In the meantime, this gives the competition the opportunity to initiate consumers and monopolize the market share. It would also render your favorite machine obsolete and force you to waste a considerable capital expense — one that is otherwise operating effectively.
Or you could look to modernize instead. If you've never considered modernization before, this article is here to help. Today we're going to review the reasons companies commonly seek upgrading for their packaging equipment machines, what you need to know before undergoing a major overhaul initiative and how to find the right vendor to support your goals.
Reasons for modernization
While the specifics of your situation may vary dramatically, most companies seek modernization as a solution for improving their packaging line because of any of the reasons below.
- Obsolescence. As time passes, all machines will inevitably become obsolete in their current form. When they do, gaining access to services and parts for such a machine can be difficult if the market has moved on. Modernization is one way to keep an otherwise satisfactory packaging machine operational while incorporating modern technology. If you have chosen the right OEM, their equipment is designed in a way that supports future modifications.
- Market changes. We discussed the idea earlier that strategies change, and markets fluctuate. For companies this can also mean the size or shape of their packaging must shift as well. If such a shift is so dramatic that the new packaging cannot be handled by the existing solution, modernization can be a way to make an affordable change and keep pace with the new direction.
- Reallocation of an asset. Sometimes, despite a consumer goods company's best efforts, a product simply doesn’t thrive in the marketplace. When it fails, the capital expenses associated with the machine can more easily be protected by modernizing the machine to deliver on the product’s eventual replacement.
- Higher product demand. Your market may change, or it may grow. You may have the good fortune of producing a product that can't keep up with the market demand. This result could be an opportunity for a modernization project. Technology changes in motor types and product handling could help increase the efficiency and output of your product.
- Improved safety features. Equipment modernization can also help improve safety aspects of older equipment. Enhancing controls, removing manual processes, and adding additional features helps lower risk involved with operating older equipment.
What to know before modernizing
If any of the above situations sound familiar to your company, you may determine that modernization is in your future. However, before green-lighting a project, you should recognize that modernization is a partnership. By playing an active role in the update of your machines you will not only speed up the process but also improve outcomes by ensuring your machines are improved in a manner that works best for your business.
When pursuing modernization, you'll naturally want to discuss timeline and costs with prospective vendors. Many companies fail to also consider the following when looking for a solution.
- Remember the entire process. As tempting as it can be to focus on how modernization can bring your packaging machines forward to tackle new tasks, remember that they may still be obligated to conduct existing operations. In these cases, backwards compatibility is an essential consideration when modernizing your equipment. Consider everything you need your machine to do in the future — but also production that may need to be retained — and make sure each of these obligations is addressed in any modernization project.
- What’s your downtime? It’s vital your company has realistic expectations of just how long the machine(s) will be out of commission to complete this process. Your modernization equipment provider should be able to help you establish a realistic timeline based on the improvements necessary as well as the testing and planning calendar. Ask early in the process when beginning your modernization search and be sure you understand the financial impact of this downtime on your entire business.
- Recognize the total cost. Pursuing a path of modernization is a more cost-effective choice than machine replacement but it pays to be mindful of the fact that your costs could extend beyond the machine upgrades. Once the machine is modernized, additional staff training may be required to get employees up to speed on the new functionality. Our advice, don't skimp on this training and make sure employees understand all that's expected of them. It's the best way to ensure you maximize the value of your new and improved machine from day one.
Finding the right partner for your modernization project
When pursuing the possibility of modernizing an existing machine, you’ll naturally have questions. How much does it cost? Does the work you want done qualify as minor or major changes? Can one of your existing machines even accommodate this new product?
The best packaging equipment partner can help you find the answers to all these questions. At R.A Jones we focus on being proactive in our approach to dealing with modernization projects by working within the boundaries of your needs while also offering you additional possibilities you may not have considered. Our machines our built to last, but we understand the need for change. We engineer our machines for the functionality of today but also with a prospect of modernization in the future. Contact us today to learn more about our modernization process or read about a recent successful modernization project here.