Industrial Vibrator: Buy New or Repair?

Working in this industry over the years, I've seen many different factors that come into play when making the decision to repair an industrial vibrator or to buy new. The biggest aspects being cost, downtime, and reliability of the new or repaired unit. Let's take them in order by starting with the one that gets the most attention.

Cost to repair versus buying a new vibrator

Unless you have a small throw away unit or a vibrator with excessive damage, repairing is almost always less expensive than buying a new unit. Most of the time, a good repair job is 50% or less than that of a new vibrator, and this is usually the route the customer will take. If the cost of the repair starts creeping into the 60 to 70% range, a new vibrator is strongly considered/recommended.

Downtime

If downtime is a factor due to the lack of a spare vibrator or recently having multiple vibrators fail, the difference in cost can be nullified very quickly depending on what type of turnaround you can get with either option. When in this situation, some questions to ponder are: 

  • Can my local repair shop get the parts they need and do they offer an expedited service?   
  • How soon can the motor manufacturer build a new vibrator or do they have one on the shelf?
Reliability

Where am I going to get the most reliable product so I don't have to worry about going through this again in the near future?

The reputation and workmanship of the repair company and the quality of product from the motor manufacturer come into play here. The warranty that both of them offer should also be taken into account. These warranties for new or repaired vibrators usually range from “No warranty” to up to 3 years.



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Where Do I Send My Vibrator For Repair?  

Most customers have a local repair shop that they utilize for other types of motors. Some of these repair facilities are very good at repairing industrial vibrators and honestly, some of them struggle. Industrial vibrators are just a different animal than that of a standard motor. So when picking an electric motor repair shop, you should try to determine their level of experience in repairing electric vibrators. Because of the high-stress loads placed on a vibrator housing during operation, the construction of an electric vibrator is different than that of a standard electric motor. If the shop lacks the necessary experience, they could miss some of the key design features that need to be accounted for during the repair. Professionalism is key! The best technicians do a thorough initial examination of the failed vibrator. Missing something that should have been remedied will almost always come back to bite you and generally in the form of another failure. So it is important to find a reputable repair shop. If the vibrator manufacturer offers this type of service, I would strongly recommend looking into it. And if the manufacturer has a good repair program, it doesn't get much better than OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts and assuring the proper fits and tolerances with the company that built your vibrator. Just like a car dealership, they can be more expensive but the added expense is usually well worth it.

Note: If you have an explosion-proof or hazardous-location vibrator, you want to make sure the repair facility or manufacturer can recertify and mark it with the original approval ratings.  

Is It Finally Time To Replace This Old Vibrator?

The first step is a good visual examination of the vibrator. Sometimes you can just look at a vibrator and quickly determine that it has seen its better days. So remember, if it looks like a boat anchor, it usually is! Depending on whether the vibrator assembly is cast iron or aluminum, there can be different things to look for and consider. We recommend that you repair an aluminum assembly no more than once. Due to the tight tolerances and interference fits on all major components, too much of a soft material like aluminum can be stripped away when having to remove these parts multiple times. Continue to look at the exterior of the vibrator closely. Check for surface pitting and eroding of covers or case, especially around the connection joints and on machined surfaces. Look for cracks, chips, gouges, dents, and any type of damage in and around the mounting feet. Upon disassembly of the vibrator, the technician should check for stripped threads, loose joints, and possible damage to the case, shaft, or bearing flanges. If the bearing flanges are falling out of the case or bearings are easily coming loose from the shaft or flanges, then you have lost your interference fit and either the case, bearing flange, or shaft is scrap.  Additional abnormal failures other than basic bearing or winding issues can exponentially increase the cost of the repair. For example, if you have a bad case you almost always replace it with a new vibrator.

Best Of Both Worlds

RepairVibBlogAnd finally, sometimes you do both...buy new AND repair. If you need a new vibrator fast, your best bet is usually buying a new one off the shelf or relying on the manufacturer to build you one for same-day or next-day shipping. We have many customers that do this and at the same time, they send the failed unit to us or a local repair shop so they can utilize it as a spare in the future. We always recommend spare vibrators. Spares are your friend! 

In summary, it is good to factor in all of these elements as they will influence your decision making and hopefully help you determine the most profitable choice for your company in a time of need.  

If you have more detailed questions, possibly about a vibrator evaluation and repair or maybe about the benefits of a new vibrator and what separates it from a repaired unit, feel free to ask away! 

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