Five Signs Your Industrial Test Equipment Is Due for an Upgrade

September 19, 2022 - Author: Rob Pape - Senior Integration Engineer, Mechanical

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Upgrading your industrial test equipment

An Effective Test Process Starts with Updated Industrial Test Equipment

Everyone wants more for their money—especially when “money” represents six-digit or seven-digit figures. That’s often how much companies spend building and integrating industrial test equipment. After making an investment like that, it’s natural to want that equipment to last as long as possible.

“I work with systems that run from $30,000 up to a couple of million,” ACS Senior Mechanical Engineer Rob Pape says. “With preventive maintenance and upgrades, there are systems I integrated in 2000 that are still operating just fine. It’s always a pleasant surprise to walk into a facility and see a piece of equipment I worked on 20 years ago.”

Careful attention to preventive maintenance can extend the life of any machine. But even the best mechanical care won’t stop the march of time or keep test equipment from becoming obsolete. For example, in 2019, the world expected the gradual rollout of electric motors to continue at the same steadily increasing pace it had been on over the previous decade. Then, in 2020, the pace of electric-based vehicle research and development took off like a rocket.

“Today, specs can change every six months,” Pape said. “Companies can’t afford to sit on their hands; they have to be proactive. Don’t expect to get full depreciation out of equipment before you spend new capital or you’ll find yourself behind your competition.”

Fortunately, in the industrial equipment industry, many of the problems experienced by older test equipment can be solved with upgrades that don’t require replacing the entire machine. So how do you know if it’s time for an upgrade?

Five Signs Your Industrial Test Equipment Is Due for an Upgrade

#1: Its Product Line is Being Discontinued

When a product line is discontinued or a research and development project ends, there is always the question of what happens to the equipment involved in testing that product. Before relegating it to storage or worse, to the scrapyard, analyze the test equipment and its parts. With some upgrades, it may be adapted to a new life on a different product line.

#2: Specifications Change

There’s no getting around this one. You simply can’t get optimal performance out of equipment doing jobs it wasn’t designed for. When the specs change, you need to upgrade test equipment to keep up. When making these upgrades, it’s advantageous to keep the test equipment backward compatible, Pape said. The equipment should still be able to run its old tests and processes even as new functions are added.

#3: Vendor Changes Affect Compatibility

When vendors change their products or your company switches vendors, you may need to upgrade your industrial test equipment to support the change. This typically affects software updates, but may occasionally require hardware to be upgraded, too.

#4: Performance is Starting to Lag

The most obvious sign your test equipment needs an upgrade is when it just can’t perform like it used to. Nothing lasts forever. If your equipment is failing or needs frequent maintenance, it may be time to replace it.

#5: Regulations Change

Sometimes it’s an outside agency telling you it’s time to upgrade. Equipment upgrades may be required to stay compliant with evolving rules like emissions standards and safety codes.

Remember that an effective test process requires an integrated system. Before upgrading a single part, look at how that change impacts the rest of the process. Upgrading an integrated system holistically yields far better results than replacing parts piecemeal.