Equipment breakdown during the production process can lead to unfortunate consequences, starting from delays and ending with wasted materials. Ideally, you have a replacement part at hand. In the worst case, the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) may have left the market.
So, what do you do if you need a spare part which is no longer manufactured or readily available – or is extremely expensive through the OEM? That’s when reverse engineering comes into play.
What Is Reverse Engineering?
Reverse engineering involves learning information about any man-made component without having access to any manufacturing data. The goal of extracting such data is to reproduce a part flawlessly.
Reverse engineering requires a certain number of tools and extensive expertise. With the assistance of laser trackers, scanners, and CAD and CAM systems, an engineer can measure the object and copy it precisely.
Today, the availability of portable coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) has made reverse engineering a fast process, thus allowing manufacturers to avoid delays and downtime.
3 Ways A Manufacturer Can Benefit From Reverse Engineering
Reverse engineering has become a saviour for many companies, especially those using older but still perfectly functional equipment. Below are 3 ways a manufacturer can benefit from the process.
1. Avoiding Downtime
No matter how durable the machine components are, they eventually wear out. Even if proper maintenance and inspections are performed, once a crucial part wears out, it will need timely replacement.
Correct installation of new spare parts is imperative to avoid further errors occurring. Sometimes this requires specific input from engineers trained by the OEM. When it’s impossible to source the parts and support from the OEM in a timely manner, reverse engineering can save the day.
The new part can be manufactured for quick replacement using new and improved materials, with simplified installation requirements to avoid dependence on third party installers.
2. Improving Output
While wear and tear of individual components may not cause a breakdown immediately, it can hinder the equipment’s output. With the assistance of reverse engineering, it’s possible to create a high-quality replacement part which can keep throughput at top levels.
As technologies move forward and new materials are tested, it’s sometimes possible to copy the dimensions of a part while improving its productivity. As a result, a manufacturer can enjoy improved equipment output over what may have been achieved with a similar OEM part.
3. Cost Effectiveness
Using reverse engineering can often save a manufacturer money on their spare components. A spare part reverse engineered by a third party may turn out to be cheaper than the same part purchased from the OEM. Overall, reverse engineering is a valuable cost saving strategy for manufacturers in a wide range of sectors. If there is a spare you use regularly, chances are there is money to be saved by having your own copy reverse engineered, rather than spending over the odds to purchase through the OEM.
OEMs don’t have a monopoly on progress. Every application has room for improvement and almost any conceivable part can be reverse engineered (and enhanced) with the right inspection tools and expertise. The lifespan of any equipment can be extended substantially when each of the spare parts can be replaced quickly and easily.
At Woodley Engineering, we take advantage of the reverse engineering process to manufacturer spare parts for a variety of equipment. For more information about our services, please download our free Woodley Engineering Precision Engineering Guide.