Why You Should Consider a Used Machine

Most machinery today can’t hold up to the good old machinery from our past, and you'd be foolish not to look into purchasing a used machine.

The Fabricating and Large Machinery Showroom at Sterling Machinery in South El Monte, CA.
The Fabricating and Large Machinery Showroom at Sterling Machinery in South El Monte, CA.
Sterling Machinery

Most older industrial machines are built to last for years of use, while many machines today are built to basically get you through a job or two when you are starting out.

If you're prototyping or doing maintenance you don’t need a high production machine that can run all day and night, and the difference in price could be tens of thousands of dollars, all for machines with the same capacities.

Some machines have different options and, because of physical size and weight, are more rigid. The more rigid the machine, the better the cut, the more accurate the bend, and the deeper the hole (view images in gallery).

Most machinery today can’t hold up to the good old machinery from our past, and you'd be foolish not to look into purchasing a used machine versus a new machine.

When buying a new or used machine, you need to ask yourself these ten questions:

1. What Kind of Accuracy Do I Need?

Every customer has different jobs with different tolerances. Some may be making a part for a space shuttle, while another is making a bracket for a fireplace. Depending on the type of accuracy you need, you may be able to choose a lighter duty machine to get the job done, and save a lot of money.

2. How Often Will I Be Using This Machine? 

Is your plant running multiple shifts or is this machine going into a maintenance shop to be used sparingly? Again, a light duty import may work great for a maintenance shop or home shop.

3. Who is Using This Machine? 

Is your staff properly trained for this machine? Some machines have a learning curve. Depending on the skill of the operator, you may need CNC controls to automate the machines. This will make setup easy as well as keep your production quality high.

4. How Long Do You Plan on Keeping This Machine?

Do you need a machine for one job, or are you planning on using it for years to come?

5.  What Happens if the Machine Goes Down?

Typically, it takes more than three weeks to get a replacement for overseas parts. In today’s machinery market, with machines manufactured worldwide, it may take some time to source, order, and receive the parts and support for what you may need. 

If the machine is down for weeks, it could be a catastrophic situation. Many customers will buy one machine for a particular job in a line and when it goes down, the rest of the factory is brought to a standstill. 

When purchasing machines from other countries, you may have to wait to be up and running again. Are you willing to gamble to save money now for what could mean a huge headache later?

6. What is My Budget?

Machinery is an investment, and values on high quality machinery stay strong. When you purchase a used machine, chances are that it will be worth the same in another 10 years. 

In machinery, the old saying, ‘you get what you pay for’ is more than a cliché. Most of the time, the more expensive the machine, the higher the tolerances, and easier to use. That's why you can get a much better deal on a used machine with more capacities and options.

7. Does it Have a Warranty?

Many used equipment dealers will offer a warranty to give you piece of mind. Each dealer is different, so do your homework. 

Warranties can vary from sold as-is to 30 days, and even 60 days on certain equipment. The time allows you to test the machine in your factory, and verify that it will do the job you were expecting.

8. Have You Done a Price Comparison?

Here is an example of the benefit between used versus new equipment:

HYDMECH Saws are a high-quality machine, and the company has been in business for many years. You can purchase a brand new HYDMECH swivel head automatic saw for $93,500 with a six-to-eight week wait.

Here is a reconditioned, used HYDMECH swivel head automatic saw with similar capacities for $32,500. That is a savings of almost $60,000, and it’s just too high to not explore the used option. Same great brand, and parts are still available with years of heavy duty use to come.

9. How Quickly Do You Need the Machine on the Floor?

Lead time, lead time, lead time. When you know that you need a machine for a job, you can't install it fast enough. Find out the shipping lead times as well as the prepping lead times, but most reputable used machinery dealers test the equipment before it is ready to ship. 

Sometimes the machines are not ready to ship when ordered, because as I mentioned earlier, it takes time to source parts and have them shipped. If the used machine needs a part, you might have to wait a few weeks. If you’re looking at new machinery, you could have the same wait. Shipping from all around the globe, new machinery can take time to be built and shipped.

10. Does Your Dealer Own the Machinery?

Finally, you must find out the source. Today, with the internet, anyone with a website can list other companies’ machinery. It makes it difficult to make a good deal with an extra middle man between you and your machine. 

It’s best to find a reputable dealer that you can trust and have heard good things about — a good recommendation can go a long way. You should even look at the company’s social network to make sure that they are who they say they are. 

Make sure the company you are purchasing the machine from, physically has the product. It’s the best way to know that they are telling the truth about the machine’s specs and condition, and are giving you the best information to make a good decision for your business.

Adam Mattes is the president of Sterling Machinery, a supplier of new and used metal fabrication and chip making machinery.

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