Buying Industrial Equipment: Things to Consider

Image of women working on an industrial machine. When upgrading manufacturing industrial equipment there's more to consider than the cost of the machines.
Industrial equipment is a big investment that will be with you for a long time.

Industrial equipment is expensive. It’s also big, designed to last, and often complex. When you add all those factors together you begin to realize just how much is at stake when it comes to upgrading your facility. It’s too easy to overlook some important aspects of the decision that can lead to regret for years to come.

The list below is designed to help you think about any upcoming purchases in a mindful way to reduce the chance of buyer’s remorse and increase the likelihood of a successful upgrade. It’s by no means a complete list, but it should help you get on your way.

Will the new industrial equipment fit?

While it’s always a good idea to make sure you have the physical space for any new equipment, there’s more to ensuring a good fit than measuring W x H x D. Consider other questions like

  • Are my current utilities sufficient to run this equipment?
  • Will I need to upgrade security?
  • What are the safety requirements to keep my staff protected?
  • Have I chosen the most efficient location for this equipment?
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Impact of IoT Retrofit on the Manufacturing Supply Chain

man wearing orange hard hat
Photo by Kateryna Babaieva on Pexels.com

According to Hubspot’s Annual Manufacturing Report, 80% of manufacturers feel smart technologies and a move toward Industry 4.0 adoption will benefit their supply chain by increasing visibility, accelerating innovation, and enabling staff to work more efficiently.  Over 90% of those polled feel the same technologies will lead to increased productivity. 

This begs the question: if smart technologies are essential to efficient manufacturing, why aren’t all factories smart?  

It’s not that simple.  

Upgrades come with significant costs and productivity ramifications.  It doesn’t make sense to pull out legacy equipment in good working order simply because it wasn’t built in the age of connectivity.  Many systems continue in good working order for decades; that’s why we use the term “industrial-strength” to define something that safeguards against failure.   

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Bring Legacy Equipment to the Industrial Internet of Things Age

This photo of industrial equipment by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

There are reasons to bring legacy equipment into the Industrial Internet of Things (IIot) Age.

Most manufacturers work with older equipment. A 2017 McKinsey report notes factory machinery and tools have an average age of 11 years. Industrial equipment lasts by design; we even use the term “industrial strength” to attribute higher-than-usual durability and power to everything from bug spray to boots. And when something is still working–and working well–a full upgrade to something new can be a difficult sell.

But many of these older legacy systems were created before the age of connected manufacturing systems, which bring with them a number of added benefits. A connected “smart factory” can mean higher productivity, increased flexibility, a safer manufacturing floor, and lower costs.

One option that bridges the gap between a full upgrade and missing out on all these benefits is to perform a retrofit of connected IoT gateway and data feedback devices. But until recently, this kind of upgrade was a complicated and costly affair. But it doesn’t have to be anymore, and more options are available.

What is the Industrial Internet of Things?

IIoT or the Industrial Internet of Things is the industrial extension of IoT. Automation in a traditional factory improves through the use of interconnected smart sensors. Other instruments work with sensors to take advantage of data collection and analysis. This happens on a networked (Internet) platform.

Options for Connecting your Factory Floor

There are several options now available for connecting your legacy systems to the IoT. These include

  • Retrofitting IIoT Connectivity. IoT gateways use software, sensors, and industrial-based control systems to provide a simple connection that can send data in real-time.
  • Using Video Cameras. Video analytics allow cameras to recognize objects, people, or issues on your floor automatically.
  • Using Edge Devices. Data can be accessed via local devices. This can improve security and provide access to process data more quickly.
  • Using Biometric Devices. Your employees can become part of your data acquisition through the use of biometric wearables or tags. This works in conjunction with additional upgrades.
Infographic: Bring Legacy Equipment Into the IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) Age
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