Have you noticed that in many cases lead times for new equipment are as long as six to eight months? This has led to what I would describe as a very healthy market for pre-owned equipment. If you have an immediate need for a four-point welder, due to catastrophic equipment failure or an unexpected expansion, then pre-owned equipment might be in the cards.

In case you haven’t notice, I like to refer to this category as “Pre-Owned” as opposed to “Used,” as I believe that the word “used” has somewhat of a negative connotation, suggesting that such equipment is spent and therefore does not have much life left in it. However, depending on the type of equipment this could not be further from the truth. For example, if you need a horizontal washer on a budget or need one immediately and happen to come across a 10 to 20 year old model that starts with a “B” and ends with an “O” then, chances are, if it was well maintained, it is worth your consideration, and may give you many more years of service at a very affordable price.

When it comes to preowned equipment, if the company is still in business after 20 to 30 years, then there is a reason for that success. Also, many of these older machines were built in simpler times without the expensive and complicated electronics that oftentimes become quickly outdated. Newer technology usually involves electronics which become obsolete due to the fast pace of technology, and this necessitates upgrades. Some of the older machines did not rely on this technology but can still get the job done and therefore still serve a useful purpose.

Several considerations are in order when you are shopping for preowned equipment. First of all, don’t expect a warranty. A typical warranty on new equipment is about six months to a year, but the typical warranty on preowned equipment is “as is.” This means that there is no warranty and that the equipment is sold (you guessed it) “as is.” Therefore, after looking at pictures, if you have any doubts about the condition or functionality of the preowned equipment, then by all means invest in an airline ticket and go check it out!

Secondly, once you decide to buy it, one thing to expect is that the sale is typically FOB SELLER’S LOCATION. This means that it’s your responsibility to send someone onsite to properly disconnect the equipment, prepare it for shipping (possibly building a crate), loading, shipping, unloading and properly installing. More often than not, the seller will kindly agree to use their own loading equipment and will agree to load what is now your equipment onto your choice of freight carrier when it arrives. Be grateful, since 99% of the time this process goes smoothly and saves you the expense of hiring a rigger. However, it must be understood that this help, if accepted, is at your own risk. If the equipment is loaded improperly and subsequently becomes damaged either in the process of loading or during shipment due to improper loading procedures, then any losses incurred are yours alone!

Lastly, when buying new equipment, the purchase usually includes set up and training. However, in the case of purchasing preowned equipment, this expense will be extra. Usually, if you contact the original equipment manufacturer, they will be happy to send someone to your plant to help you properly install your preowned purchase and to train you on proper operation and maintenance procedures. This expense will be billed to you at a per-diem rate, plus travel expenses. Also, be aware, when purchasing preowned equipment, that software licenses are typically non-transferrable. Perhaps the software is not operating correctly, or it is based on an obsolete platform that is no longer supported (such as Windows XP). If you seek support from the OEM, you will need to purchase a new software license in order to upgrade to the current version and receive support. This Software License can add thousands of dollars to your preowned equipment purchase.

After listening to all of this, you are probably thinking that new equipment is looking better and better. And yes, new equipment is fantastic and avoids many potential pitfalls and extra considerations. However, if you are in need of equipment for an immediate application and cannot afford to wait six months, or you are investing in a startup operation where investment funds are limited, then preowned equipment definitely serves a purpose and can save you thousands of dollars—so long as you know the ropes!

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