Anyone who produces colored mulch knows that coloring equipment represents a significant investment. So, making the call to upgrade to new machinery is never a decision made lightly. But sometimes your strategic goals, evolving priorities or the circumstances surrounding your operation necessitate a change. Still, it can be hard to tell when you’ve reached that inflection point and whether investing in new equipment is the right move. Here are some of the top signs that you are ready to upgrade your mulch coloring equipment.
Limited production capacity
If you are unable to color enough mulch to fill your orders, that’s the clearest sign there is that it’s time to move up to equipment with greater production capacity. But more often than not, things aren’t so black and white. Demand for colored mulch varies and every local market is different. Besides, measuring return on investment for new mulch equipment is about more than weighing the cost of the machine versus the potential for increased sales.
Instead, mulch producers should consider what increased throughput would mean for their entire operation. For example, if you are currently coloring 150 yards of mulch per hour, but a new machine would allow you to produce that same amount in half the time, what would that mean for your labor and loader costs? How could you use those resources more efficiently in other areas of your operation? By thinking holistically about your production capacity and the subsequent effects on your overall business, you can more accurately determine the value of a new coloring machine.
Lack of automation impacting profitability
Running a piece of mulch coloring equipment requires specific skills that are often only achieved through experience. An operator needs to have a firm grasp of water usage rates, colorant usage rates, fiber type, mulch size and other factors that impact the uniformity of coverage and color longevity.
If you have unskilled personnel running these machines, you could see variations in color consistency, product performance and costs related to colorant and water usage. Mulch producers that want to achieve better predictability and a more consistent product should consider upgrading to equipment that makes it easy to automate equipment operation. For example, the Marksman technology that comes in the ColorTrom series from ChromaScape allows you to set your desired outputs and the computer will automatically adjust colorant and water rates accordingly. This takes the human element out of equipment operation and provides greater control over your finished products.
Maintenance needs causing excessive downtime
Some mulch coloring equipment uses paddles and other moving parts to move and color mulch fiber internally. Inevitably, these parts wear down, break and need to be replaced. That means downtime for your machine, impacting productivity. If you want to minimize downtime and maximize production efficiency, consider switching to a machine that is designed without these moving parts.
Poor data visibility
In general, mulch producers that have a defined process for gathering, storing and analyzing production data are better positioned to optimize their coloring operation. Unfortunately, many outdated coloring machines don’t provide the kind of detailed metrics mulch producers are looking for. If you want to improve your data visibility so you can optimize colorant and water use rates, that may be a sign it’s time to upgrade your equipment.
Good business owners know that the safety of their employees should always be the top priority. But the truth is that accidents involving mulch production equipment do happen, sometimes causing death. If you are concerned about employee safety and the risks associated with your current equipment, it may be time to upgrade to a safer piece of machinery.
As companies near the end of their fiscal year, tax considerations become more and more important. Would purchasing new mulch coloring equipment help your company when it comes to tax season? This may not be a major motivator, but if the timing is right, it could be another factor to consider when thinking about upgrading equipment.
Making the call
Ultimately, deciding whether to upgrade your equipment will come down to your unique situation and local market conditions. Every operation is slightly different, and you’ll need to weigh everything carefully to truly evaluate your needs and opportunities. But by paying attention to the signs and actively considering the impact new mulch coloring equipment could have on your operation, you can feel confident you are making the right decision for your company.
Ready to upgrade your coloring equipment? Contact ChromaScape to learn more about the industry-leading ColorTrom series and how our innovative machines can deliver better results for your mulch production operation.