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Machine Breakdown: What Should I Do, Repair, Refurb, Retrofit, or Replace?

Greg Gulnac
Posted by Greg Gulnac on Dec 16, 2021 1:04:59 PM

As a machine owner, you know system failures cost thousands of dollars in downtime per day, so it’s imperative to quickly remedy the situation with the most sensible and cost-effective solution.

But several options exist to get your system back online, bringing it back to it's initial state or even better than before. So should your machine simply be repaired, or will upgrading yield the most benefits in the long-term? In today’s informative blog post, you'll learn how to determine the best solution for you: repair, refurb, retrofit, or replace?

Jump to Section:

Repair   Refurbish     Retrofit    Replace   How to decide the best option      Tips to use time wisely


First, let's go over your options

1. Repair

Repairing means fixing what is in disrepair to bring it to the exact same state the machine/system was in before it broke. Items are replaced if broken beyond repair, but not upgraded. After a repair, the machine/system should work exactly as it did before it broke - no better, no worse. Simple repairs are a great option to get you machine/system back online, simple as that.

Trust a reliable source for your repairs

Airline Hydraulics repairs, refurbs, and retrofits all types of systems and components, including gas boosters, pumps, motors, cylinders, and valves. Our machine shops are fully equipped and staffed by knowledgeable and experienced professionals, including MIG- and TIG-certified welders. All tolerances are pre-checked before final assembly, and the last operation test is performed at the component’s rated pressure and flow to ensure it meets or exceeds specifications before leaving our shops.

Learn more


2. Refurbish

Think of refurbishment as a "facelift" for your machine/system. This is when it goes through the same steps above for repair, but it's also improved through a thorough cleaning, tuning, and re-equipping. Systems that go through refurbishment may be many years old, but after, look and perform like it did when it was new!

Here's a video that walks through the before vs. after of a refurbished HPU:

Watch on YouTube


3. Retrofit

When a machine or system goes through a retrofit, a new component or feature is installed that was not originally designed into the system. This usually adds new functionalities it did not have when originally made. For example, older machines/systems can be retrofitted with newer tech to reap the benefits of cutting-edge advancements like io-link, predictive maintenance, remote connectivity, and more!


The easy button for repair pickups

Red Pallet LogoWe make it easy to schedule your repair pickup online with our Red Pallet Program. Schedule a repair on your phone, tablet, or computer, and you will be contacted promptly with details regarding the pickup of your components.

Check it out



4. Replace

Replacing a system/machine is when you disconnect it from your operations and replace it with a completely new one. A newly-built machine is often more productive, runs more efficiently with less energy consumption and noise, is better fitted towards machine safety standards, (although a risk assessment is usually still required for full compliance), and is fitted with newer components with better performance and durability (with proper maintenance, of course).

Think it will take forever to get a new system built? That's not always the case! Here's a video that shows the timelapse of a new power unit build - the process is down to a science!


Watch on YouTube



Need a new system?

hpu buildFor over half a century, Airline has manufactured hydraulic power units and other systems with the highest reputation for engineering excellence. We can:

 • Design and build units custom to your application.
 • Build an existing model of an HPU we’ve created for similar applications.
 • Source from our world-renowned vendors, such as Bosch Rexroth and HYDAC
 • Offer off-the-shelf configurable units such as Bosch Rexroth’s GoPak

Learn more




How to decide the best option: repair, refurb, retrofit, or replace

Here are some important questions to consider when deciding whether to repair, refurb, retrofit, or replace.

1. What's your timeline?

Ideally, you would want to consider machine refurbs and upgrades during scheduled machine maintenance periods, allowing ample time to implement the best and most cost-efficient course of action. But if you're in a dire machine-down situation where you need the machine running again ASAP, you might be limited in options and just go for the fastest repair.

 If you find yourself in dire machine-down situations, consider retrofitting predictive-maintenance technologies into your system for next time. It may cost a little extra at first, but will be worth it in the long run when you're not stuck in the same pickle next time (and losing revenue from unplanned downtime).



PumpMD: Easy predictive maintenance for piston pumps

PumpMDIf the pump is the heart of a hydraulic system, PumpMD™ is a monitor that warns you about cardiac arrest, before it's life-threatening. Learn how it easily provides critical first alerts for your workhorse axial piston pumps.

Learn more




2. How was your system performing before any breaks?

Was your system performing just fine, or do you need increased speed, precision, or other performance gains? If your machine has been running great, a simple repair may be all that's required. But if your machine's performance has been poor, you might want to consider refurbishing, retrofitting, or replacing the unit to get it up to snuff with your production needs.


3. Is your system overconsuming energy?

Older machines/systems can be energy hogs. If you're tired of paying steep energy bills, consider an upgrade with either retrofitting or replacing the system, as modernized machinery is more energy efficient.


4. Can you hear me? How loud is your machine?

If your machine is ungodly loud, upgraded equipment often operates more quietly. There are also elements that can be installed in a retrofitted machine that can help quiet noise.


How to reduce hydraulic noise and save energy

How to lower hydraulic noise v.2The Syntronix DRn 5020 control system from Bosch Rexroth's is a must-have if your system has a lot of dwell-time and you want to cut back on noise and energy consumption.

Read article



Tips to use your maintenance time wisely!

If you have the opportunity to do so, here are some ways to make the most of planned downtime.


Get proactive instead of reactive.

Predictive maintenance technologies are easier and more affordable than ever! Components that monitor system performance can be installed on almost any machine, allowing maintenance to know when something's wrong before it breaks. (No crystal ball needed!)

Systems can also be outfitted with automated equipment to perform machine lubrication and other routine or preventative maintenance tasks. Compared to simply repairing a part, the long-term saving rewards often outweighs the initial cost of upgrading components and technologies.


Buy some spare parts while you're at it!

When your machine is down, you don't want to waste time by scrambling to your purchasers to source components ASAP. In worst case scenarios, the part you need isn't in stock, and any wait is excruciating when you're watching production dollars go down the drain. So think ahead and have spare parts available to allow your maintenance team or repair facility to provide a quicker response to your service needs.

  Explore Airline's online selection of hydraulic OEM replacement parts


Is your machine compliant with safety standards? Now's the time to check!

While waiting for a machine to get back on commission, it can be an opportunity to ensure it's up to code with applicable machine safety standards. You may want to consider an inspection, and/or upgrade any out-of-date machine safety devices.


Here's where to get started to learn about machine safety.


MPSA how do i know i am compliantIf you're unsure if your machines are safety compliant, get started by watching our recorded webinar, "How do I know if my machine is safe and compliant?"

Watch webinar




System failures cost thousands of dollars in downtime per day. The choice is yours to do a simple repair, but definitely consider the longer-term benefits of refurbishing, retrofitting, or even replacing older and out-of-date machines with one that will save your money in the long-run. And always remember, you have a partner in Airline to help with any option you choose.


Contact us


Resources & Information 

Repair and Field Services at Airline

System Engineering Services at Airline

Pump Predictive Maintenance with PumpMD

How to Lower Hydraulic Noise and Save Energy

Hydraulic Symbol Schematics


Machine Safety Resources

Turnkey Machine Safeguarding - MPSA

Recorded Webinar, "How Do I Know if My Machine is Safe and Compliant?"


Related Videos

Hydraulic Power Unit Build Timelapse

Hydraulic Power Unit Refurbishment


Explore Products

Hydraulic Components

Hydraulic OEM Replacement Parts

Machine Safety Devices



For 24-hour Service and Repair call Airline at 1-800-999-7378

Topics: Hydraulics, Explainers, Maintenance

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