Is it Time to Upgrade  
Key Considerations in the Decision-Making Process  
by Nick St. Denis, with contributions from Paul Bieber and Mike Rosato  
he phrase “nothing lasts forever” may be a pulse of the state of your machinery stock?  
as cliché as clichés get, but it holds plenty Do you think it may be time to make an invest-  
of meaning in the glass industry. The ment to improve your production, or to solve  
proof is in the machinery.  
some growing problems that you know will  
Aging equipment, product quality, efficiency only get worse over time?  
T
and evolving trends are just some of the many  
If so, USGlass magazine is here to help. Here  
factors that require glass shops and fabricators are some top-to-bottom considerations on  
whether it is time for your shop to upgrade  
Have you taken the time to step back and take machinery.  
to take a hard look at their plant capital.  
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Your Machinery?  
You’re thinking about purchasing a new machine. How do you know the  
time is right? Here are some indications to help you decide.  
1
Is Your Machinery Reliable?  
Are You Experiencing Bottlenecks?  
Is it constantly getting shut down for unplanned fixes If you’re seeing bottlenecks from department to depart-  
and unscheduled maintenance? You should keep a log ment—for example, your cutting department can’t feed  
on each piece of machinery, and refer back to it often— glass to your fabrication department fast enough—you  
when a machine was serviced, how it was serviced, and may need to add cutting capacity.  
who performed it. If you’re servicing a machine six times  
a month when it used to require two tune-ups a month, Do You Need Extra Machinery to Improve Efficiency?  
take the hint.  
Consider your tempering line. Are you having a hard time  
loading and unloading? If you added some supplementary  
machinery such as small cranes, would that improve your  
Are Spare Parts Available?  
Over time, many machinery companies begin to phase output? Your machine today may need two people to oper-  
out parts and inventory for older equipment. Once you ate it. A newer version of that same type of machine may  
find that spare parts are no longer available for your ma- need one, and that second person could be better utilized  
chine, you should consider retiring it and upgrading to a elsewhere in the shop.  
new generation.  
What’s The Reason for Your Downtimes?  
Is There Fluid Leakage That You Can’t Solve?  
Ask yourself, “Are my set up times becoming longer, and  
Constant oil leaks from hydraulic lines, continuous water is there new equipment that’s more automated and can  
leaking from washers,and other issues with fluids are easy streamline things?” If so, it may be time to do the math. If  
things to see.If you’re saying,“Gee,I’ve replaced that pump you’re spending three-and-a-half hours a day doing set up,  
four times in the last year and a half,” then it may be time figure out how much more you could produce in a day with  
to look at other options.  
upgraded equipment.  
What is the Quality of Output?  
What Are Your Customers Ordering?  
Glass quality is a tell-tale sign of the condition of your ma- Maybe you have a beveller that goes up to one inch,but many  
chinery. Consider your washer: Do you have to run your of your customers are asking for 1½-inch bevels.Take a look  
glass through it twice? Or your edger: Are you getting per- at the products you find yourself having to buy out-of-house  
fect edges with one pass? How about your tempering oven: that you’d like to produce in-house, and keep up-to-date on  
Is the glass coming out flat and true? Quality is critical.  
the latest industry trends. If you don’t have the capabilities,  
your customers will go to someone who does.  
Are You Meeting Your Output Goals and Needs?  
Unplanned maintenance can be a big time-killer. And How Could More Automation Benefit You?  
sometimes, it doesn’t take an actual problem with your The manufacturing sector is suffering from a lack of qual-  
machinery to slow you down. Are you able to meet your ified labor, and many companies are leaning toward auto-  
output goals successfully with your existing equipment? If mation to make up the difference and reduce costs in the  
you’re running your tempering oven all day and still not meantime. Automation and robotic integration also can  
keeping up with demand, it may be time to upgrade to a help reduce accidents and maximize worker safety. You  
bigger, faster machine. Or, that machine may just need a don’t have to do away with the employee you’ve “replaced.”  
little help from additional equipment.  
You can just re-purpose them.  
continued on page 38  
www.usglassmag.com  
August 2017 | USGlass, Metal & Glazing  
37  
IcosntiintueTd firmomepagteo37 Upgrade Your Machinery?  
You’ve decided an upgrade of some kind is necessary now or in the near future.  
Here are some questions to ask yourself in deciding how to proceed:  
2
DoOYnocue yHoauvdeetchideeSopnaacem?achinery upgrade or expansion, What Does it Cost to Run the Piece of Equipment?  
An oven with three inches of insulation is going to use  
one of your first thoughts should be,“Where is this piece of more electricity than an oven with 12 inches of insulation.  
equipment going to go?” The main options are to add it in So your operating costs are higher. That can be a major  
an existing space (if there’s room), expand the size of your sticking point, depending on where you’re located.  
facility (or buy/rent more space), or put the new equipment  
in place of the old machine. The latter option can be dif- What Quality and Lifespan are You Looking for?  
ficult, because it requires that particular operation be shut  
What’s the time period you want the machinery to oper-  
down for the time the old machine is removed and the new ate for? Some may say, “I only want it to last five years be-  
one gets installed and up and running.If you have the space, cause the technology is changing so quickly.” Or they may  
putting in a second line allows you to keep your business just want to run the equipment into the ground and are pre-  
going, and the first line can be upgraded or removed later.  
pared to upgrade again in the short term. Others are willing  
to spend the big bucks and want to get as many years out of  
ArCehTehckerweitThrathdees-uinppDlieearlosf Ayovuariloarbilgein?al machine, or even the equipment as possible.  
other suppliers,to see if they would accept a trade-in of your WhSotaratrebythreeseMaracjhoirngPlwahyeortsh?e most reputable machinery  
equipment. They may be able to refurbish and resell it, and  
you may get a discount on a newer piece of machinery.  
companies and vendors are. Ask around. Start reading up  
on machinery in industry publications.Attend trade shows,  
ArSeoTmheevreenOdtohresrmDaeyaglisvetoyoBueaHbareda?k on your purchase if and meet with representatives face-to-face.  
you’re willing to use your machinery as an example they can WhSaertvKiciendis oafrgSuearbvlyicteheDmootshteismepCorotmanptaansipeesctOofffethre?ma-  
refer or show to potential customers. They may not have the  
particular machine you’re purchasing in your region or part chinery business. Find out which companies are proven to  
of the country, and opening your doors to other shops and offer top-notch service and stand behind their equipment.  
fabricators could be a win-win for you and the vendor.  
It’s very likely the machinery is manufactured in another  
country, but the company should have good, reliable repre-  
HoIwf yWouillpYlaonu oFninanncaencIitn?gAtnhde WnehwenmSahcohuinlderYyotuhrBouuyg?h sentation in the U.S.Find a manufacturer that will train your  
staff thoroughly on how to operate the machine. Also, ask  
a loan, take a look at interest rates. It may be best to buy where they stock their spare parts, and whether they have  
sooner rather than later if interest rates currently are low.Or mechanics in the U.S. Also, ask whether interchangeable  
maybe you’re looking to pay in cash. Do you have enough in parts are available,or are they specific to a certain company?  
the bank to handle such a major purchase? One other thing  
to consider: Cash may be the most economical route at the WhMaotsKt imndacohfinWeasrcroamntey wDiotehssttahnedMaradc, hcionmepIanrcalbuldeew?ar-  
time, but think about whether you’re willing to have your  
own money tied up in case something goes wrong with the ranties. Where suppliers get competitive is by offering ex-  
machinery and legal issues arise with your supplier.  
tended warranties.Things like long-term programming and  
software help are also critical, as machinery operators need  
WhTahtisWoinlle biseseYlof-uerxpRleantuartonroy.nHIonwvelosntmg weniltl?it take for this more help than they have in the past.  
purchase to pay itself back? Conduct simple cost-benefit  
analysis across all of the options you’re considering.  
These are just some of the many questions you should an-  
swer when considering whether it’s time to upgrade or add  
machinery.Service is a huge part of the machinery purchase,  
WhGalatsSsisziezessDaoreYgoeuttiWnganlatrgtoerParnoddulacreg?er, and demand for and it often comes down to the integrity of the supplier.  
Keep these things in mind,and you’ll be on the right track.n  
big glass is growing. This is not a temporary trend—it will  
continue for years to come. What sizes are your customers Nick St. Denis is the research editor of USGlass magazine.  
demanding? What do you have room for in your facility? Do Paul Bieber is the owner of Bieber Consulting Group. Mike  
you anticipate selling larger glass in the machine’s lifespan? Rosato is the machine sales engineer of Salem Distributing Co.  
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USGlass, Metal & Glazing | August 2017  
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