Beyond the Concept: Managing the Risk of Using Out-of-Date Parts and Products in a Facility

Facilities can ill afford to have equipment go down with today’s supply chain challenges. Lost hours could quickly become lost days if a replacement is unavailable. Sam Cafferata, Principal Engineer at Concept Systems, spoke with Tyler Kern about this all-too-real issue and what facilities can do to ensure their equipment is up-to-date and in good working order.

Cafferata said there is a lot of equipment running in facilities from the early 1990s and 2000s. No one likes replacing expensive equipment, so the natural tendency is to run it until it needs fixing, but getting a replacement part or new equipment is not easy these days. “The problem now is, there are not parts sitting on the shelves to make those repairs,” Cafferata explained.

Regarding the delays in the industry, Cafferata said, “There are some products that we’re a year out right now.” So, what can a facility do to mitigate the problem? “What I like to talk about is a disaster recovery plan,” Cafferata said, “Look at the equipment you have, what’s available, what’s not available, and let’s put together what it’s going to take to upgrade it. Let’s have all the materials ready, so when you do break, we can fix it.”

Understanding the equipment in the facility, how old it is, and the risks are the keys to preventing future breakdowns. “As you’re analyzing all of this, ask what could I be doing better,” Cafferata said, “So, you have an old machine. That means you’re probably not getting good data out of it. An upgrade will bring you a lot more than just new equipment; it will help you with your obsolescence, but also give you overall equipment effectiveness, and give you live data on how to make the plant run better.”

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