Do a little snooping on the floor of any machine shop and you’re likely to find a piece of legacy equipment older than company’s youngest employee. Of course, the risk of keeping old machines around for too long is that you end up struggling to maintain them. Maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations depend on readily available supplies of spare parts.
So, what happens when your equipment supplier no longer makes the parts you need? You could try to track down whatever spare parts are still floating around out there, but that only delays the inevitable. No one wants to scramble to find a whole new machine because their spare parts ran out at a crucial junction in production.
Fortunately, there is an alternative. Hansford Parts and Products, a New York-based machine shop, recently was confronted with just this problem. The company purchased a German Knapp rack mill in 1966 to make keyway broach cutters. It’s been in operation ever since, until a bearing failure led to broken teeth on a gear, one that’s no longer in production.
Rather than scrap the machine, Hansford partnered with engineers from the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability (RIT-GIS) to find a better solution.