... that the hydraulic cylinder doesnâ€™t have a conventional seal, but uses rings of packing to slow the flow of hydraulic fluid.'Â
This is just one of the comments we received yesterday in response to the March "Fabricating Update" e-newsletter that addressed companies' reluctance to invest in new equipment (and hire) until consumers resume spending, which they are reluctant to do given the current jobs situation.
We know that the economy has dampened fabricatorsâ€™ desire and ability to purchase new machinery, even when their equipment may need replacing, so we thought weâ€™d ask readers just how old their most-used machine is.The reader who wrote about using rings of packing to slow the flow of hydraulic fluid was referring to an arbor press used to create the sump in a fabricated bowl.Â Â
A reader from a California-based company that produces a common product used in households and businesses worldwide (and sometimes in pranks involving toilet seats) said, "Our most critical and used [piece of equipment] is an injection blow molding machine that has been in service since August of 1980. The average age of our equipment is 25 years old."
A Wisconsin-based reader said, "Ours are a couple of Mazak Slant 50s from 1986. We are currently rebuilding one of them and will be done by week's end."Â
One reader said his oldest machine, a Cincinnati Milacron turning center, was purchased in 1982. It runs great. He would love to upgrade, but his shop hasn't had a job in three months. He also has other CNCs purchased in the mid-90s.
Mark M. wrote that the machines in his shop are at least 20 years old. He offered an observation that's echoed by many fabricators: "The company I work for has no intention of buying new equipment, even if it would save them time and money."
Many, but not all. Some fabricators see the value in upgrading equipment, even in tough times. Some have taken advantage ofÂ supplier incentives. One of these, from a U.S. company that makes fitness equipment, wrote, "We have experienced a resurgence in [demand for] Â domestically made fitness products, which has allowed us to take advantage of the great equipment deals this year and replace many of our outdated robotic welders, which were 16 years old.Â We still use many punch presses that were made in the 1940s.Â Prior to last year, we had one year that we had not purchased any new equipment, but this past year we purchased six new Seyi punch presses, four Fanuc/Lincoln robots, and two new Carroll angle benders.Â We took advantage of the great equipment deals that were out there and increased our capacity and upped our efficiencies."Â
A reader from a company that produces products for the automotive, defense, energy, and medical markets shared his company's plans: "We have a number of assembly machines 30 to 40 years old, and a smaller numberÂ of newer machines less than 5 yrs old. We estimate that we will be making substantial investments in new machinery in the immediate future." Music to equipment suppliers' ears.
Finally, a reader from a shop in Georgia went beyond telling us how old his most-used machine is and shared his opinion about what it will take for companies to invest: "Our most-used machinery is 2.5 years old. Our capital spending budget for 2010 is zero.Â
"With respect to getting the economy started, the incentives need to be for large companies to invest and the economy to improve. These companies have excess cash and access to credit at great rates. They just need the 'uncertainty' of political actions removed and some added incentives.
"A recovery can only be led by those with money, and consumers don't have it. It must be investment lead by the large companies. They have the cash!!!Â
"[What would help is] incentives like direct write-off of investments in U.S.-based capital goods, or at a minimum, very quick depreciation schedules.
"To help commercial real estate, change the 39.5- year deprecation schedule to 10 years for both new and existing properties. This adds to the value of the properties and cash flow."Â
Some companies, such as Baldor Electric, mentioned in an article featured in "Fabricating Update," will not invest in equipment or hire, even when they have the means to do so, and others will invest to ensure that they are better-positioned for growth when the economy recovers. Â Which group is your company in?
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