Top five reasons to choose obsolete

Paul Boughton

Broken-down components can cause a world of problems for manufacturers. When disaster strikes, manufacturers are forced to make the decision to replace or upgrade their industrial equipment. Here, Jonathan Wilkins discusses the top five benefits of sourcing obsolete industrial automation parts

Industrial automation is a lot like Formula 1. It’s a race against time and if something breaks, it needs to be replaced as soon as possible. In the long term, the system or the component might need to be upgraded, but in the short term, the solution is almost inevitably to repair and replace. Also much like in Formula 1, speed is of the essence. Here, Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director of industrial component supplier European Automation, discusses the top five benefits of sourcing obsolete industrial automation parts.

Despite rapid advancements in industrial technology, some components in manufacturing systems can have disappointingly short life spans. There are countless issues that can cause automation equipment to break down and be sent to the ever-expanding graveyard of failed components.

While broken-down components can be an inconvenient - yet manageable - setback in most industries, for strictly regulated sectors like pharmaceutical and nuclear sectors, just one broken part can result in serious problems. Entire operations can be bought to a grinding halt, increasing the risk of rushed decisions and panic buying – a judgement that can often result in excessive expenditure.

But what if the same part is no longer available from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM)? Considering the rapid progress of industrial automation technology, it’s unsurprising that a growing number of products are becoming obsolete. But obsolescence doesn’t mean extinction. More often than not, it merely means the part is no longer in production. This certainly doesn’t mean a replacement can’t be found. In fact – an armoury of discontinued and obsolete parts are available.

So let’s take a look at the options. Do you purchase a brand new part and if required, a new system to match? Or do you start looking for a replacement?

When industrial automation equipment fails, one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways of solving the problem and getting production back on track is to source a replacement for the broken part. Here are a few reasons why.

1. Downtime is minimised

Production downtime can be incredibly costly to a manufacturer. Calculable costs include direct labour and loss of inventory. While operations are brought to a standstill, a backlog of incomplete work will begin to mount, potentially resulting in penalties and fines from delayed or cancelled orders.

2. No more ‘panic buying’

Considering the huge costs associated with production downtime, it’s unsurprising that manufacturers will make brash decisions in order to get the production line up and running as quickly as possible. By making the decision to source replacement components you avoid the ‘panic’ commitment to commission a brand new part, which can result in costly compatibility testing, regulatory assessments and can also require additional upgrades to neighbouring components.

3. Costs are reduced

Inevitably, sourcing replacement components is a much more cost effective solution than purchasing brand new industrial parts. Aside from the obvious expenses, broken-down components within an industrial environment can have a dramatic knock-on effect on the profits of the manufacturer, such as lost labour costs, order delay penalties, regulation assessment rates, amongst many others.

4. Peace of Mind

Considering the rapid rate of obsolescence in industrial automation, it is essential for manufacturers to have a well executed obsolescence strategy in place. This ensures facilities managers and engineers can get through every day and the inevitable production breakdown without too much stress. They can rest assured knowing that if something does break down in their factory, a replacement is never too far away.

5. Back to business

Specialising in sourcing obsolete motors, inverters, programmable logic controllers (PLCs) and human machine interfaces (HMIs), European Automation can source and deliver your required part in a matter of hours, allowing you to keep the manufacturing line up and running and get back to business as quickly as possible.

Jonathan Wilkins is with European Automation.

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