Why buy used

3 August 2006

Mike Steele, chairman of the British Used Printing Machinery Suppliers Association, puts the case for choosing to opt for reconditioned equipment

There are a whole range of estimates as to the value of the used machinery sector of the industry. One factor is clear though, despite the wide variation in these figures: used equipment forms a significant percentage of all converting machinery purchased. And the buyers vary from the small new emerging converter to major PLCs. So what is it that influences their purchasing decisions?

In an ever more competitive market, all organizations are looking for ways to improve their bottom line, so being able to produce more of a product in-house is an attractive option. Particularly where the process or equipment is to be used at less than full capacity, a used machine purchase would enable outwork to be brought in-house economically. In this case the need for the fastest makeready or highest running speed may not be of the utmost importance, especially when countered by the lower investment cost. An added bonus is having more control over timing of workflow, and quality of finished product.


Another significant reason for favouring a used machine is that it could be purchased to match existing plant. Here the lower purchase price is only the beginning of the economies a company can make. Existing spare parts and consumables can be utilized, and formats need not be changed to run existing jobs on the new (used) equipment, or swap jobs from machine to machine to improve efficiency, cover breakdowns or other downtime. Routine maintenance is, of course, also simpler because operators would already be familiar with the machine. Indeed, operator training and familiarization is another area where cost and time benefits can be seen.

Buying used however is certainly not risk-free. But then, buying a new machine may be just as risky. Will the new technological wonder actually do all the things promised by the salesman? Is it likely that the extra productivity from a faster machine can be exploited fully? Is there really sufficient customer demand to ensure that the machine is productive and able to pay the finance cost?

Check first

Certainly, buying used machines can make excellent business sense. But many buyers are concerned as to whether they will get a machine that is in good condition and able to do the job required without breaking down, resulting in expensive repairs and even more expensive downtime. Buyers of used machines need to be sensible and to research their potential purchase as thoroughly as possible

As with any purchase, it is worth taking precautions. Here is a checklist of questions anyone looking to buy a used machine should ask before doing business with a used printing machinery dealer:

l Who else has done business with this dealer? Are they satisfied with the service provided? Never fail to take up references if this is the first time you have dealt with the supplier.

l Do I have a complete description of the machine being sold, its condition, its service history, and its serial number?

l Am I confident about the true legal ownership? Is the dealer selling as agent for the actual owner, or does the dealer own the machine himself? Are there any outstanding lease or finance charges, or does any bank have a lien on the machine?

l Does the dealer offer a written warranty? If so, for how long and what does it cover?

l Does the machine comply with all current applicable health and safety legislation? (Particularly important if the machine is being imported).

l Does the price include removal, delivery and installation? If being imported, who is responsible for any import duties and taxes?

l Is the machine bought ‘as is’ or is it fully rebuilt, refurbished or cleaned and painted? Do I understand the different implications of these terms?

Although it may seem obvious, the final most important point is to make sure that all the terms and conditions are clearly stated, in a written contract. The majority of disputes between buyers and sellers of used equipment arise because the two parties have a different understanding of the deal to which they have agreed. A clearly written contract goes a long way to avoiding that problem, and lets the new owner get on with making a profit from its pre-owned purchase.


Tel: +44 (0)1604 756100

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