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Industrial Manufacturing Retrofits: What You Need to Know

November 24, 2020

When talking about manufacturing equipment that can cost several hundred thousand dollars to purchase, an extended life for your machine is a must for any company that wants to stay ahead of the competition. However, making large capital investments in new machinery can have an extended payback period, making them not cost-effective in the immediate future. Still, many new technologies exist that can be strategically integrated into your existing machine, making it easier and safer to operate, more productive, and efficiently use energy. To make the most of these hefty equipment purchases, industrial manufacturing retrofits can be the key to accessing new features and prolonging the working life of a machine.

Industrial Manufacturing Retrofits

Strategic retrofits for a machine typically involve incorporating new technology or features without significantly altering the rest of the machine. For example, many industrial manufacturing retrofit jobs being completed today incorporate remote valve monitors and IoT-enabled sensors that were not available just a decade or so ago. IoT devices allow machine-to-machine communication and automation of specific processes to reduce the reliance on manual procedures. Additional features can boost the productivity and efficiency of an entire production line.

Here at Quad Plus, common retrofit opportunities we see include legacy motor systems, manual profile monitoring, and other inefficient processes such as automating the changeover process from one product line to another to eliminate the need for workers to enter that section and make manual adjustments.

We recently had the opportunity to provide an industrial manufacturing retrofit solution for an industrial client who needed to improve the reliability and safety of their equipment before experiencing a catastrophic breakdown of controls that were no longer available. Along with a system analysis, we upgraded their motor system and implemented remote monitoring equipment. Lastly, a detailed machine safety study was performed to identify areas to improve the work environment for maintenance and production staff. This project was completed following a carefully developed timeline to minimize downtime of the customer.

What to Know About Control Retrofits

There are many benefits to industrial manufacturing retrofits, including a lower cost investment as only necessary components are replaced rather than the entire machine. Targeted retrofits for specific outcomes are recommended to improve things like equipment uptime and performance, energy usage, digitalization, and ease of use. Manufacturers considering this route to avoid replacement should be aware that targeted retrofits will come with some downtime as a section may be taken offline to complete repairs and replace components.
However, depending on the retrofit, Quad Plus can minimize this downtime through modeling and by using a phased approach that will only stop the specific sections of the machine where the upgrade is occurring.

It’s also important for companies to look to the future when considering industrial manufacturing retrofits rather than being reactive to current conditions. Targeted retrofits still need to be performed while evaluating the performance and overall efficiency of the entire machine. Your integrator should have extensive experience with efficient components and overall system performance optimization. Otherwise, retrofits may increase the speed of some sections of the machine while leading to unintended slowdowns in earlier or later sections. The result is missing the target of an overall boost in productivity.

Every Industrial Retrofit Job is Unique

One of the most important things to understand about industrial manufacturing retrofits is that every job is going to be different. The exact configuration and layout of every shop is different, the needs and demands of the production lines are specific to the industry, manufacturer, and application. The timelines and budgets associated with upgrades will vary for every customer. In other words, who you choose to complete these projects is critical to receive an accurate assessment, practical plan, and successful outcome.

At Quad Plus, our engineers have extensive experience with the processes, hardware, and programming of legacy equipment in every industry we serve. If you need a system integrator skilled in the retrofit of older machines or working with obsolete controls, we know how to adapt your machinery into a new design, all while keeping your timelines and budget in check.