The Importance of Properly Applied Equipment
According to the US Census Bureau new housing starts increased 6.7% through September 2016. This indicator has been used in the construction materials industry for years. The past several months we have met with many construction material producers and we believe there is a slow increase in demand happening which is supported by the indicator above. Many of the construction materials companies have been operating with minimal capital improvements. Demand has been sluggish and operations have been forced to keep production going - stressing plant equipment.
One of the other impacts to the sluggish demand in processing equipment has been the loss of intellectual property. Many of the manufacturing & service companies have lost experienced people who knew how to properly apply the equipment required to produce predictable results. Early in my career I was told “Equipment that fails due to mechanical causes is easy to fix… Failure of equipment due to poor application is hard to fix”.
It’s the time of year when companies are working on capital budgets and basing many of their decisions & requests on the recommendations of others. Equipment manufacturers are promoting the products they have available and plant designs are being provided by individuals who have never operated plants. Plant managers are being asked to produce products the sales department can sell and operations is expecting high yields and expecting their plants will be the lowest cost provider in the market.
Everything works well as long as the processing equipment is properly sized, applied, and installed and the plant managers ultimately have a plant that performs. We review plant flows and designs every week and see how many plants are being underserved by misapplied equipment and poor plant designs. It’s important for all operations to get this part right before going forward. Remember it’s easy to fix mechanical things that break it’s hard to fix misapplied equipment. Your operation often suffers for years by poor designed plants.