We want our manufacturing machinery to last forever. The longer it stays in service, the better the ROI. It would be a dream come true if you could purchase a single machine and have it last forever. You wouldn’t worry about when or how you would replace it because you wouldn’t have to. It’s fun to imagine your machinery’s life expectancy being infinite, but things don’t work that way. Everything stops working eventually.
Maybe we have started to embrace that way of thinking. Since we no longer plan to use things forever, we have started to preemptively replace them. As a culture, and increasingly around the world, we treat things as disposable. We replace phones because there’s a new model, not because they wear out. We buy new cars and trade in our old one that is still running fine.
This approach doesn’t make sense. Why would you spend money on replacing something that still functions perfectly well? You don’t see people trading in their toasters every two years just so they can have the newest and hippest toaster on the market. The difference is a toaster doesn’t represent what a phone or a car represents.
A toaster doesn’t say anything about a person other than that they are capable of making toast. A phone and a car on the other hand are status symbols. If you have the most up to date phone, the implication of it is that you yourself are up to date and can afford to be. This is fine for a personal life choice, but when it comes to business, you don’t necessarily want to be wasting money on appearances.
Manufacturing machinery lasts a long time. If you were to take the same approach to that machinery that we do with our phones, your company would be bankrupt in no time. There are Indramat servo motors that started running in the ’70s that are still running today!
Just because you can replace something doesn’t mean you should. If you can repair your machinery to extend its life, you will end up saving money.