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4 Ways to Manage Spindle Repair and Replacement (Part 1)

Managing spindle service and repair — both in regards to scheduled or expected maintenance, and in surprise, unexpected maintenance — can be a surprisingly complex operation. Or a surprisingly simple one, depending on various factors and preferences.

In an ideal situation, a good spindle service plan involves preventative maintenance, careful scheduling, backup spindles, storage considerations (location and environmental conditions), and more. But that’s the platonic ideal, which we recognize doesn’t always work (or isn’t always possible) for every facility.

Eventually, all spindles will need repair or replacement. Minor repairs can happen relatively quickly, while more complex ones typically require more time. Especially if major component reconditioning, a long and complex process, is required. In any case, you’ll need to be prepared.

Here are a few of the more common spindle service approaches for you to consider.

The Emergency Program

Your spindle fails unexpectedly and you’re suddenly staring down the barrel of weeks of unplanned downtime, so you send it out for a rush emergency repair. Also known as the Quick Turn-Around (QTA) Program, this plan has pros and cons.

The primary pro is that it’s fast, often twice or more as fast as a standard repair. Another is that while you’ll still have a notable amount of downtime, it’s less downtime than a standard no-rush repair.

One of the primary cons is that there’s downtime at all. Typically, busy facilities without spare spindles use the Emergency Program, because if they had a healthy spare, they wouldn’t need to rush the repair of the first. Another con is the expense — repair shops typically have to apply rush charges to emergency repairs (which often cover the rush charges they need to pay for replacement parts as well as labor overtime expenses).

There are scenarios where the Emergency Program is sensible, depending on the volume of work that needs to be done, and promised lead times. Often, it’s the only option for a facility that didn’t have a better plan in place.

The Spare Spindle Program

The Spare Spindle Program is incredibly simple: for every spindle type in operation in a facility, they have a spare spindle on hand on-premises. When there is a spindle failure, swap the broken one out for the spare and send it out for repairs. Since they had a backup, repairs don’t need to be expedited.

This approach keeps unplanned downtime to an absolute minimum — hours rather than days or weeks — but there are considerations. Spindles are very expensive, and some smaller shops might not have the capital to keep spares around. There are also storage considerations that can be challenging for certain operations.

Overall, for facilities that have the capital, proper space, and knowledge to store spindles, the Spare Storage Program is effective and relatively low-stress.

Click here for Part 2 of this blog series, where we cover 2 additional approaches. If you have a question about anything you’ve read, don’t hesitate to contact us.