Replacing time-expired mining equipment like-for-like with a new machine is sometimes not an option, especially when capital budgets are tight. Carefully undertaken, rebuilds can offer a viable alternative, producing as-new plants for lower investment.

Aging equipment carries a cost to any operation, as maintenance bills creep up steadily and machine availability declines. The question for any maintenance manager is, when to decide that enough is enough, and begin to look at replacement options.

In boom times, the obvious response is to buy new, although even that strategy may come unstuck if the equipment manufacturer already has a full order book and a long lead time for delivery. When markets are down and the funding needed for a new machine is scarce, then spending less to obtain a rebuilt unit becomes increasingly attractive. Of course, there is also the bazaar scenario, in that the manufacturer may be more amenable to haggle over the price of a new truck, loader, scraper or whatever in order to keep the production line running. And, conversely, the unavailability of new machines in short order when that line is working to capacity may lead the operator to investigate rebuilding just to get fleet capacity back up to where it is needed.

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