Repair or replace, that is the question. Or at least it would be if Shakespeare had worked as a maintenance manager in the 21st century…

The choice between repairing or replacing a piece of equipment is a maintenance manager’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, in many cases, there isn’t a single, easy formula for you to follow to get your answer.  You need to assess several factors before reaching your final decision. We have broken these points of consideration into 3 essential points for you — costs, efficiency and the age of the equipment — for you to explore in detail.


The first factor to consider is the cost. The cost of a new piece of equipment is easy to determine, but calculating the costs of repairing a current asset is a different story. You have to look at all the costs associated with the repair: of parts, of labour costs, of losses that may occur due to downtime throughout the entire process, of losses during the test period and machine calibration, and finally the collection and removal of waste.

After these calculations, make an estimate of the maintenance cost of a new piece of equipment vs an old one? What’s the mean time between failures? When will you need to reinvest in repair work? If the total spent on repairs is more than 50% the price of a new piece of equipment, replacing is probably the best option. It is sometimes worth cutting your losses and paying a bit more in the short-term to free yourself from an old machine’s maintenance costs.

Age of the equipment

This last point we’ve made, about maintenance costs and repeat failures, takes us to another very important consideration: the age of the equipment. Unlike a fine wine, machines do not get better over the years. However, there is one similarity between the two in that they do both get more expensive. As time passes, it becomes more and more difficult to find spare parts and, in some cases, it becomes impossible to find parts like the original ones.

A piece of equipment that is nearing the end of its life expectancy carries more maintenance costs, both preventive and corrective. Therefore, always review carefully all the data you collected about its operation before you decide to repair it! It may just be time to bid your fairwells to that faithful light fitting you got all those years ago…


The age of the equipment leads us to something that’s somewhat taboo: the efficiency of old machines, or the lack thereof. Not only do older machines go through more downtime, but they might also have a lower OEE than new equipment. You should carefully review this metric  (preferably, using a good CMMS) when deciding to repair or replace a piece of equipment.

In terms of energy costs, older machines have a lower energy efficiency rating. This means they are less efficient in terms of energy consumption than new equipment as well. When it comes to safety, older equipment is often associated with a higher risk of accidents, which can pose a real danger to your team. So, as with costs and age, the efficiency of equipment may ultimately determine whether you should repair or replace it.