Half of UK firms ‘have no plan for obsolete equipment’

More than half the UK companies surveyed in a new report say they have no plan for obsolete equipment.

The newly published report, The Challenge of Obsolescence: Strategies for Managing and Maintaining an Aging Asset Base, compiled by ERIKS UK & Ireland in collaboration with the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), revealed a widespread lack of preparation, said the firm.

Reliability engineering manager at ERIKS UK & Ireland, Tom Boswell, stated that the widespread use of older equipment was not in itself a problem, but management needed to focus on prevention of downtime.

Too often this level of planning is not taking place and UK industry is operating without a safety net.

Boswell said, “Older equipment is often extremely well-built and continues to perform well in the field, but it does require special planning, specifically the supply of spares and co-ordination with the factory store,” he warned.

“These results demonstrate that all too often this level of planning is not taking place and UK industry is operating without a safety net.”

The report details a range of issues likely to impact on UK industry including:
• 67% of engineers describe more than half of their equipment is over 10 years old
• 38% admit serious downtime incidents of more than 1-2 days occur due to aging equipment ‘a few times every year’
• 62% of those surveyed had never undertaken an obsolescence audit
• 54% do not co-ordinate factory store inventory with the criticality of equipment
• 68% of respondents did not know delivery times for spares

Boswell warned that the failure to undertake obsolescence audits was a key contributor to the likelihood of issues becoming actual risks of under-supply, failures and downtime.

“The fact that half of industry has never undertaken this type of audit suggests that too many are unconsciously exposed,” he advised.

“As our report finds, the collective importance of obsolescence and inventory management are all-too-often often under-resourced and under-appreciated, despite their impact on downtime and ultimately, profits. We hope this report will encourage those working in factories and industrial sites to take a more proactive approach to obsolescence and the issues of maintaining an aging asset base.”

Commenting on the findings, Andrew Fraser, managing director of Reliable Manufacturing, said it revealed a broader concern about stores management.

“The store needs to become a vital cog in the manufacturing process that improves uptime and reduces downtime, closely aligned to assets and the different stages of their operational life-cycle.”