David Roberge

By: David Roberge on June 21st, 2018

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Packaging Equipment: Should You Repair, Refurbish or Buy New?

Equipment | The Business of Packaging | Technical Service and Support | Plant Performance | Investment

Improving your packaging efficiencies is essential to any brand. Regardless of product, streamlining your processes can help you save significant overhead and costs and reduce costly downtime. This leads to increased profits overall.

One of the actions holding the highest impact for efficiency improvement is to perform regular maintenance on your packaging machines. While new machines require less maintenance, operate faster, and can offer a variety of capabilities, the initial cost for new equipment can seem shocking. It’s the ROI and cost reductions that they bring with them that provide the relief.


A viable alternative to spending money on new machines is to buy used or refurbished packaging equipment. This alternative can still provide similar overhead cost reduction for those not ready to make a large capital investment.

So, when should you repair your current machines, send them for refurbishment, or buy new ones? In this post, we provide a few questions you should ask yourself to help make that decision. We also provide the pros and cons of each option.


Start by taking our free online Machinery Refurb Assessment quiz to find out if it’s worth hanging on to your current packaging machinery.

Take The Quiz

Assess Your Current Equipment


When determining whether or not to replace or refurbish your existing packaging equipment, consider the equipment’s age. Machines that are 15+ years old simply can’t compete with newer models in terms of speed and versatility. Additionally, spare and replacement parts availability becomes more scarce with time, not to mention the additional cost of replacing older parts more frequently.


Consider how much downtime you experience per month due to maintenance-related issues. Some maintenance here and there is inevitable and even necessary, but if you’re spending more than 10 hours a month repairing your machines, the initial cost of refurbishment or new machines will be paid for in the long run.

Maintenance Costs: Time and Money

How much do you spend on maintenance with your supplier? How is the customer service? Does that company respect your time and provide you with the service that suits your needs? The added expense of frequent repairs, particularly with a supplier that does not value your time or provide excellent service, can easily be more costly than a new machine or a tune up.

Are Parts Available?

It’s important to consider the ready availability of replacement parts for your machines. Even if your older machines are going strong, repairs will eventually be needed. If the parts you need to fix an older machine aren’t made anymore, they can be nearly impossible, if not very costly, to find.

Lack of ready availability for replacement parts also leads to additional downtime required for an unplanned machine repair or replacement. This downtime could be devastating to your production schedule and/or supply chain.

Adaptability To Current Trends

New and improved materials and designs are made daily. Some machines can’t handle certain newer materials, which limits your ability to keep your packages relevant. This also limits your ability to take advantage of the cost-savings associated with using the newer materials.

Consider The Cost Of Machinery Errors

How much money do you spend re-working orders due to machinery errors? Even without frequent repairs or downtime, if you spend time redoing orders you have already done due to machines misprinting or mis-cutting, it’s time to consider a new solution.

Pros & Cons Of Replacement Options

Now that we have discussed the different aspects of assessing your current machinery, we will share some common pros and cons of repairing your machinery, refurbishing it, or replacing it with new equipment.


Repairing existing machinery is the least expensive option, making it a desirable one. Repairs are often fast to make, depending, of course, on your parts and maintenance supplier.Repairs also take minimal downtime when compared to the time it would take to replace your machinery.

If your machines are relatively new, are able to keep up with your production schedule and can handle a variety of materials and configurations to keep up with trends, then a quick repair is probably your best bet.

A strong preventative maintenance program will help keep repairing as a viable option. Often, worn parts or potential damage can be found and fixed before your machines are even affected. This can help minimize unplanned downtime.

The downside to repairing machinery is that, especially with older machines, repairs can be short-lived. The older a machine gets, the more often repairs will be required.

Depending on the age of your machine, frequent repairs can cost much more than refurbishment or replacement.


Refurbishing equipment is often the best option when machines make frequent errors that result in necessary packaging rework. The biggest benefit of refurbishing is that it is much less expensive than replacing your machines. In addition to being cheaper, servicing machines can result in faster and more accurate production.

The downside of refurbishing machines is that while this option is less expensive than replacing your machines, it is typically more costly than a simple part replacement or repair. Refurbishing also can lead to more downtime in production as the machine is serviced.

Buy New

Even though repairing and refurbishing are very good options to keeping machinery performing at a high level, there are times when replacing the machinery with new equipment makes sense.

New machines have a very low likelihood of needing repairs, especially with an appropriate preventative maintenance program. New machines also have drastically lower maintenance costs than older machines.

With the newer equipment, you can enjoy updating your packaging to match current market trends with ease, while experiencing less downtime than with refurbishment.

The downsides to buying new machinery are that this option can be very expensive, plus increased downtime involved in replacing machines, as well as potentially significant man-hours required to train machine operators on how to operate the new machines. On the other hand, however, planning ahead for these periods of downtime during the machine installation can mitigate your problems.


There are multiple factors to consider when determining the need to repair, refurb, or replace machinery. Cost is perhaps the biggest consideration, but cost has to do with more than just dollars. Equally as important to consider is the cost of time. Each option requires stopping production for a necessary amount of time. There is time spent with repair or maintenance personnel, and time spent training staff as well. Also important to consider is the ability to be nimble and adapt to changes in packaging trends.


Find out the next steps to get your equipment in working order or out the door with our free Machinery Refurb Assessment quiz. There we break down the details to understanding your equipment and where you should be looking to improve performance. We also provide questions to ask in making future equipment decisions.

Packaging Machinery Refurb Assessment Quiz

About David Roberge

I am grateful for my 9 years as part of the outstanding Industrial Packaging team. I was able to hang out with some of the most knowledgeable folks in the packaging industry. I feel even luckier that I was able to share that knowledge with you. I love learning, hiking, and growing people and teams both personally and professionally, and helping companies grow better.