18 October 2023
How repairing can help.
WITH inflation making huge impacts on agricultural input costs this year, UK growers need to avoid the cost of replacing expensive and integral equipment while choosing whether to repair or replace machinery will be a key factor.
Andrew Powles, Managing Director at FPE Seals, worldwide distributor and manufacturer of polymeric seals and hydraulic cylinder parts, said it's important to understand the age of the machine or the components, how integral it is to the business, and the job it performs, when considering whether repairing or replacing are viable options.
“Replacing frequently-worn parts such as seals, hydraulic cylinder parts and gaskets can be a great, cost-effective option to keep a machine running and avoid downtime – particularly when paired with implementations and strategies including predictive maintenance," he said. "Naturally, a replacement will sometimes be the sensible option, but only when repair options are unfeasible and machinery is completely at the end of its lifespan.”
Effective and quality repair work can reduce the amount of downtime within the business, so strategies such as predictive maintenance can avoid this outcome, said Andrew. Predictive maintenance uses technology, real-time reporting and data in order to monitor parts and components of machinery that may be susceptible to faults and address these before they develop into critical production issues.
When new machinery is ill-affordable, repairing and maintaining to reduce downtime can be crucial. The reduction of downtime in the potato growing industry is huge as jobs are time-sensitive and certain tasks can only take place in small time frames.
Andrew added: "Further benefits of repairing agricultural equipment relate to the safety and satisfaction of the workforce responsible for operation. This has positive impacts in more ways than preventing injuries while at work.
"The nature of agricultural products means machinery is designed to get jobs done quickly and effectively, and that comes with an element of risk and chance of injury. Of course, safety procedures are in place, but keeping machinery up to the right standard and checking for the need of repairs will enhance the safety of operatives."
By keeping machinery running with repairs, the business will be able to operate smoothly, with operatives working to their schedules. Production will continue, with workers confident they are using well-maintained, fit-for-purpose machinery, rather than suffering a breakdown and waiting for unspecified periods of time for a replacement, he added.
Predictive maintenance can massively reduce or even remove downtime. In cases where a machine needs to be out of service for repairs, the time will be less than waiting for a new machine to be ordered, delivered and installed. Various factors, particularly if shipping overseas, can affect delivery times, making waits unpredictable.
Often there is also the cost of training to consider.
Andrew said: “New machinery may be evolved from the previous model. Even in these instances, staff may require hours of training to be brought up to speed. Repairing a machine everyone is familiar with, providing it is still capable of high-level performance, means that work and production can commence as soon as the repair is completed.”
Coupled with techniques such as real-time monitoring and predictive maintenance, repairs can ensure that new machinery is only required in the rare cases when the machine and components no longer make fixing it viable, he concluded.