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What to consider when buying equipment

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Thinking about buying equipment?

These manufacturers recommend that you start by considering some important questions.

Eric Walton, Custom Canvas Alaska

  1. Do you have the need or will you have the need?
  2. Do you have the space?
  3. Is the price right?
  4. Will the equipment open new markets?

Tim Searfoss, Roll-Rite

  1. Is it the right piece of equipment for the purpose?
  2. Make sure it’s heavy-duty and that it can reach what it needs to reach.
  3. Buy new. “I want state of the art, the best I can get, when I want a machine.”

Chad Miller, American National Mfg.

  1. Reliability, longevity, overall performance
  2. Return on investment has to be reasonable
  3. What are its power requirements?
  4. What’s the cost of annual maintenance?
  5. How busy can you keep that machine?

Also consider…

Major advancements are typically on a two-year cycle. That’s why making the decision about what to buy and when is so critical. Is it going to keep you state of the art for a longer period of time?
Andy Arkin, Olympus Group

Make sure that the company you are purchasing from has a good history, they’re knowledgeable about what you’re trying to do and they’re willing to work with you.
Look for materials. Make sure [the equipment] is made from high-quality product.
Tim Robinson, American Fabric Filter

And finally…to buy or not to buy?

Ask yourself these three questions.

  1. Do I have the storage space for this item?
  2. Is there an ongoing market for it?
  3. How many times will I need to use it to make a profit?

Financing the decision

The overriding question must be: Great, but how am I going to pay for it?

  1. Pay attention to and take advantage of all applicable tax credits and incentives.
  2. Position your business to work to your advantage with your local bank.

Incorporating new equipment

  1. Be willing to throw away current operation practice
  2. Imagine that your plant floor is a blank slate
  3. Put the system where it will have the greatest effect
  4. Let the new equipment drive the equation
  5. Move the old equipment around to support the new

“I would be willing to purchase a plotter and cutter and racking system used, mainly because the tool heads are replaceable,” says Tim Robinson, American Fabric Filter. “If it’s from a good company, I don’t see where years of use will negatively affect its function. An RF machine we probably wouldn’t want to buy used simply because we want it tailored to our needs.”

Olympus Group has purchased used printers, but they inspect the machine and see prints from it, “so you know what its condition and capabilities are,” says Andy Arkin. “If cleaned up and refurbished by the manufacturer and they’re going to warranty it, I have no problem with buying used.”

Reasons to buy new

When the new/used question goes beyond the condition of a machine to “where it falls in terms of technology: what technology is in the unit versus the technology that has just been released or is on the horizon to be introduced. Why would you restrict yourself with buying old technology?” Arkin says.

Custom Canvas Alaska bought a used sewing machine on eBay. “The picture looked like a Juki; the man taking our bank card info sounded sincere. But when the machine got here, it turns out its make was questionable. There was no ID plate,” says Eric Walton. “It worked for a short while; but as the paint wore off, exposing the rust underneath, and it became impossible to keep properly timed, it became our ‘spare-parts head.’ When you add a 4,000-mile shipping bill to a ‘good deal,’ it can turn bad real fast. After that, we have only purchased used equipment from people we know or from those with good reputations—and ideally close by.”

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