A Wall Street Journal article this month gave a good introduction to the basics of equipment ROI, at least for those outside the manufacturing world. These are machines for business. Rationality rules--usually, at least. The article helps clear up a few misconceptions out there, especially when it comes to manufacturing’s image. Not every plant out there uses the latest and greatest equipment, especially when there’s no need for it. Old iron dies hard. If you want to make a lot of something, some machines have been fast enough to meet demand for years or decades.
What’s driving new equipment investment these days seems to not be capacity issues. Sure, a laser can cut twice as fast, but if you don’t have more press brakes to carry the load, what’s the use? Moreover, if those brakes sit idle much of the day for changeovers, the breath taking speed of the laser cutting head doesn't help the shop ship more parts in less time.