Machinery rebuilders are service companies that disassemble, clean, repair and/or replace machine components in order to increase their service life. While rebuilding is considered to be an old-fashioned term in some industries, having been replaced in common use by the term "remanufacturing," other industries such as the railroad industry have maintained the term in common usage.
Quick links to Machinery Rebuilders Information
The History of Machinery Rebuilders
In the United States, we can definitely trace machinery rebuilding as we know it today back to the 1920s and 1930s. At that time, a few things were going on that encouraged this industry. First, as manufacturers began mass producing standardized products, like cars, it became easier to replace parts and redo products, rather than commission new ones. Second, as the Great Depression hit, people simply did not have money to buy new things. Their only choice was remanufacturing.
To that end, in 1932, Henry Ford opened the first automotive engine remanufacturing plant. By 1940, spurred on the scarcity of resources and the need for working military vehicles, automotive, tank, ship and airplane parts remanufacturing was also prevalent. By World War II, the practice of remanufacturing and replacing parts had solidified its position in the world, and the industry grew.
During the 1970s, as people became aware of their environmental impact and the need to preserve resources and treat the earth better, machine rebuilding became even more popular. This interest was supported a few years later, in 1981, after students at MIT conducted a study on the remanufacturing of auto components and found that it preserves energy and reclaims material, labor and money.
In 1995, the EPA put out the Comprehensive Procurement Guideline (CPG) program, which encourages conservation and waste reduction through solid waste recovery and recycling materials for the creation of new products. Part of this program is the listing of products made with large amounts of recycled or recovered materials, the purchase of which they incentivise or require. In 2004, they added "rebuilt vehicular parts" to that list. Thanks to encouragement like this, remanufacturing has become an even bigger industry. Today, it extends to cell phones, laptops and PCs, ink cartridges, electric motors, medical equipment, office furniture and more.
Benefits of Machinery Rebuilders
There are many reasons to seek the services of machinery rebuilders. Benefits to machinery rebuilding include: lower life cycle costs, lower material/parts costs, energy efficiency, waste reduction (emissions, resources, materials, etc.), reduced use of hazardous and harmful materials like solvents and chemicals, and product life extension.
Design of Machinery Rebuilders
When getting ready to rebuild, repair or retrofit a machine, machine rebuilders must consider what exactly the customer is looking to accomplish. Do they want to restore a classic car? Update a piece of vital machinery? Understanding the goals of the customer will help them decide what types of actions to take.
During the types of services mentioned in the section above, manufacturers may engage in any number of processes, ranging from deep cleaning, to strengthening (coating, conditioning, etc.), to the cosmetic (buffing, polishing, painting, etc.) to demanufacturing (disassembling parts so they can be recycled), to reworking and reassembling machines via parts replacement, parts orientation, retooling, counterbalancing, etc. They may also simply repair parts.
Rebuilding is a complete machine recovery process. Thus, no matter how they design a rebuilt, repaired or retrofitted machinery, rebuilders also make sure that the like-new product is able to meet the same level of standards for potential customers as that of new machines.
Machine Service Details
In general, machinery rebuilding goes something like this: inspection, disassembly, cleaning, replacement or restoration, reassembly and quality testing.
However, each project is different, and machine rebuilding can be broken down into three main services. The three main services that machinery rebuilders typically provide are: remanufacturing/rebuilding, repair and retrofitting.
- Remanufacturing Services
- Defined as the disassembly and recovery of a machine or equipment first at the module level and then eventually at the component level. Remanufacturing service providers will work to completely reconstruct a piece of equipment, such as a spindle, press or gearbox, until it is restored to its original state. Remanufacturing also includes a retrofit upgrade, as well as a rebuilding service, which can cost up to 50 percent of the price of a new machine. In conjunction with these improvements, remanufacturing may include design changes to benefit the performance capability of a machine beyond its original standards. Remanufactured machines should stack up well against new equipment in terms of both performance and service life.
- Repair Services
- More of short-term fix than remanufacturing services. Repair services are defined as: the restoration of a machine by replacing a part or by putting back together what has been torn or broken. Thus, instead of a complete overhaul of the machine, the service is only paid to one aspect of the machine that shows the most need. Repair services are available for everything from tiny electronic components to heavy equipment.
- Retrofitting Service
- Quite a different service than the other two main types provided by machinery builders. Retrofitting services are defined as: providing equipment with parts, devices, or technology that was not available or in common use at the time the machine was originally manufactured. Retrofitting also generally refers to the upgrading or replacing of a CNC machine’s servomotors, magnets, drives and wiring components. Retrofitting is not so much a fix of the equipment, as it is a means of updating outdated technology in equipment. The cost of retrofitting ranges from 10 to 30 percent of the cost of a new unit.
Products Serviced by Machinery Rebuilders
There are many different types of equipment that can benefit from any of the services commonly provided by machinery rebuilders. Some common examples of items used in industrial manufacturing that routinely require the services of machinery rebuilders include: machine tools, pumps, presses and prepress equipment, spindles, lathes, ball screws, gearboxes.
- Machine Tool Repair
- An extremely broad category of repair services because of the broad definition of "tools." Tools are defined as devices that are used to perform or to facilitate either manual or mechanical work. So, tool repair services can include services performed on any number of parts and components, ranging from valves and levers, to gauges and air pressure sensors, press controls, gears and clutch retrofits. The goal of tool repair is to restore tools to better-than-original status. Tool repair generally calls for all of the components of a machine to be cleaned, inspected and then reassembled using refashioned or new parts. Machine tool rebuilding usually costs around one-third the fee of a brand new unit.
- Pump Repair
- A type of service in which damaged or worn components in a pump are altered in a way that returns them to their original state. Pump repair is technically less broad of a category than tool repair, as pumps are defined as machines or devices that are used to raise, compress, or transfer fluids. However, there is a wide range of various styles of pumps including vacuum pumps, centrifugal pumps, hydraulic pumps, and metering pumps. As a result, pump repair services can also be a very broad category of machine repair services.
- Press Repair Services
- Another example of a category that is less broad than tool repair but still not able to be categorized as necessarily specific. Presses are defined as machines or equipment that are used to exert pressure or force upon a material or part. Press rebuilders service a variety of presses, including: hydraulic presses, stamping presses, small C-frame presses, large straight side presses, printing presses, mechanical presses and more. Press repair service providers refit presses with press controls, gears, shafts, clutch retrofits, etc., typically automating and restoring them to a better-than-original status.
- Spindle Repair
- Not as common as the previously mentioned other types of repair services, but they are still essential to many industries. Spindles are defined as a rod or a pin that is tapered at one end and typically weighted at the other end. As tools that are used to spin fiber by hand into thread that is then wound, spindles are essential components of the textile industry in particular. Spindle rebuild and repair includes the complete disassembly and inspection of a spindle assembly, and a possible balancing phase to correct the center of gravity. Also during spindle repair, rebuilders take out internal bearings and replace them with new ones, inspect the spindle gears for cracks/wear and check the shafts for straightness.
- Lathe Repair
- A service that rebuilders may perform on all kinds of lathes, including CNC lathes/CNC turning centers, multi-spindle lathes, grinding lathes/grinders, turret lathes, toolroom lathes and more. Lathes are defined as machines that shape metal, wood, plastics or other material by rotating the workpiece against machining tools, shaping tools, grinding tools, cutting tools, etc.
- Ball Screw Repair
- A type of service that many machinery rebuilders provide, One of the most commonly product repair services requested of machinery rebuilders, ball screw repair specifically deals with the removal and replacement of broken or worn parts within ball screws. Ball screws are defined as a mechanical device that is used in order to convert rotational movement to longitudinal motion. Ball screws are often utilized in industrial machinery such as linear actuators.
- Gearbox Repair Services
- Essential to many industries, especially industrial manufacturing, aerospace and automotive. It deals specifically with the replacement of worn or damaged parts and components from gearboxes. Gearboxes are defined as protective metal casings in which a system of gears is sealed. Gearbox repair services can also be a fairly broad category because gearboxes can house gears ranging from planetary gears and spur gears to worm gears and helical gears.
- Equipment Repair (Heavy Equipment Repair)
- A service that is performed in order to alter the state of worn or damaged parts in a piece of equipment in a manner that returns them to a similar state as when they were originally manufactured.
- Machine Repair
- Refers to any service or process performed on a machine which results in a fixed or upgraded working status. Machinery repairs include rebuilding, retrofitting and remanufacturing and can cost anywhere from 10 to over 50 percent of the price of a new machine.
Machinery Rebuilder Applications
Some examples of the many industries that depend upon machinery rebuilder services include: industrial manufacturing, automotive maintenance, printing and alternative power generation.
In industrial manufacturing, machine tool rebuild and machine tool repair services such as ball screw repair or pump repair are a crucial and oft required service. Meanwhile, in automotive maintenance, older cars, especially antique or classic ones, often require the services of engine rebuilders. In printing, workers rely on the use of printing equipment and printing press repair services. Finally, in alternative power generation, operators often turn to gearbox repair services of gearboxes on their wind turbines.
Machinery Used to Rebuild
To accomplish their goals, they use machinery and machining tools like: grinders, screw machines, injection molding machines, blow molding machines, CNC machines and more.
Machinery Rebuilders Variations and Similar Services
Engine rebuilders provide a service quite similar to machinery rebuilders. These machinery rebuilder providers offer the rebuilding of various engine types in order to either upgrade the technology of the engine or to return the engine to as close to its original state as possible.
There are three main types of rebuilding: rebuilding without identity loss, repetitive rebuilding without identity loss and rebuilding with the loss of original product identity.
- Rebuilding Without Identity Loss
- A rebuilding process during which rebuilders give an older machine an update without changing elements of its original design unless there are defects. They keep its base while inspecting its physical structure for soundness, bring its life expectancy up to that of a new machine and replace or upgrade its critical modules. This type of restoration is common for custom airplane, medical equipment, machine tool and computer mainframe projects.
- Repetitive Rebuilding Without Identity Loss
- A remanufacturing technique in which rebuilders schedule a series updates to a machine. They must schedule updates in repetitive sequences, as they will need to obtain unique parts. This is a complete process, after which the final product will retain its original overall appearance but work and look like new.
- Rebuilding with the Loss of Original Product Identity
- A process during which rebuilders demanufacture machines, take the parts, repair them and stock them as ready pieces for use with other product remanufacturing requests. Once they have broken down the original product and stocked its components, machinery rebuilders inventory the demanufactured parts. Machinery rebuilders usually use this process to gain usable parts for the remanufacturing of machines like: cameras, personal computers, automobiles, photocopiers and printers.
Choosing the Right Machine Rebuilder
Whether you’re on the hunt for a rebuilt machine, you’d like your equipment retrofitted, or you need a full overhaul of your system, you will get the best results by working with a trusted professional. To help you find the right one for you, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of industry leading machinery rebuilders and machine shops located all over North America. To learn more, scroll up and check out their profiles. As you browse, keep in mind your specifications, including your: budget, timeline, delivery preferences, support preferences and standard requirements. Based on those, reach out to three or four manufacturers to whom you’d like to speak more, and discuss your project. Then, pick the right one for you.
Machinery Rebuilders Terms
- Average Life
- The average length of time a component will last before it fails.
- A piece which guides, supports and reduces friction between both fixed and moving machine parts.
- Shining and smoothing of a surface using an abrasive material. Buffing compounds are commonly embedded in a belt or soft wheel.
- Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machine
- A microprocessor controller dedicated to a machining tool. A CNC machine has programmable numerical controls to activate its spindle drive and servos, controlling various operations.
- The use of weights to balance a work piece or rotating device, reducing machine vibrations while maximizing cutting force. Spindle rebuilding often involves this method.
- The act of performing adjustments to a new or contaminated system in order to ensure proper operation and maximized production.
- A disassembly process that is used for products that will be recycled, such as vehicles, in order to reuse their materials.
- The capability of products to be utilized for a longer period of time than other comparable products with minimal degradation.
- Any of various processes used to provide edges, surfaces and corners with desired properties. Common finishing practices include preparation, conditioning, cleaning and coating.
- A machining procedure in which excess material is removed from a work piece by way of a powered abrasive stone, wheel, belt, sheet, paste, compound, etc.
- The act of physically checking a machine or product for assurance that it meets specified dimensions or performance levels.
- Interchangeable Parts
- Components that are built to specific tolerances. The similarity allows them to be mass produced and substituted for one another.
- A finishing operation using a fine-grained abrasive mixed in with a liquid to correct minor surface imperfections and produce a tight fit between mating surfaces.
- Part Orientation
- The layout of a feeding mechanism, machine and product so that the components are properly aligned prior to and during assembly operation.
- A process that uses abrasive material attached to a backing. Polishing blends contours and improves surface finish.
- The process in which materials that would otherwise be destroyed are collected, processed and remanufactured into new products.
- A process by which a product is brought up to a new standard through extensive work for use in a new application.
- The act of revising and/or reorganizing with a new and improved set of machinery tools.
- A control system which converts a diminutive mechanical motion into one that requires much more power.
- A mechanical part, found on CNC machines, which revolves and serves as axes for other, larger rotating parts.
- A process utilizing a dressing tool, such as a diamond, to ensure that a grinding wheel is concentric and round. Truing assures that there will be minimal vibrations.