What’s an Older Machine Really Costing Your Shop?

By Ed Levy, Contributing Writer

December 3, 2018

Congratulations! The 10-year-old, 12-head embroidery machine that you opened your decorating business with is still running. But wait—are you doing your business (and customers) a service or a disservice if you’re keeping old equipment around, without investing in newer models?

The older machine you’ve already paid off might actually be costing your business a lot more money than you thought. Here are four questions to ask yourself to see whether investing in a new machine is a smart business move.

1. Want to increase your productivity?

Newer decorating equipment is hands-down more efficient, faster and uses less energy.

For example, a brand-new embroidery machine offers faster movement, more stitches per minute, faster trims and quicker colors changes. A new eight-head will far outpace your decade-old 12-head. Similarly, today’s DTG printers are up to 10 times faster than yesterday’s models—and new automatic cleaning cycles eliminate time-consuming maintenance.

Consider also that even though some older machines will allow operating system upgrades, they’ll always be limited by older hardware like thumb drives or ethernet networking.

2. Want to lower your labor costs?

If you’re stitching or printing with older, less efficient machines, it’s going to take more time and person-power to complete your jobs. Conversely, when you invest in new equipment, that inherent increased efficiency means that it takes less time and labor costs to accomplish the same or more work. Plus, machine advances make the equipment easier for operators to use, resulting in shortened training times.

3. Want to take advantage of new technology?

Think about how you feel when you finally upgrade from a smartphone that’s two or three years old to the latest model—most likely, you can’t believe how much faster the new phone is and why you waited so long to enjoy all the new bells and whistles, like a best-in-class camera function.

Similarly, older decorating equipment lags far behind the newest-of-the-new equipment that takes advantage of today’s technology, resulting in up-to-the-minute networking, production reporting and operator efficiencies.

In addition, don’t forget the usual wear and tear that your older machine takes—embroidery machine manufacturers will make repair parts available for a certain amount of time after a model year ends. After that, though, it may be a lot harder to find parts to repair an older machine.

4. Want new tax advantages?

Older machines are often fully depreciated, whereas new equipment can open the doors for new tax programs and savings for your business. Talk to your accountant to learn how investing in a new machine will make you smile at tax time.

While it makes sense to have an older machine in your shop as backup if another one needs repairs or if you get a slew of new orders to push through, new machines make save your business time and money—and clear the way for new customers and lots more repeat orders.

Ed Levy has more than 25 years of apparel-decorating experience. Levy, who’s director of software technologies for Hirsch Solutions, is an in-demand speaker at trade show and regular contributor to industry magazines.