What You Need to Know About Used Equipment

By Barry Shepard
With technology changing at a dramatic pace, labs may assume that buying the newest products available is the best option. But that is not always the case. It is important to assess your needs in order to decide whether new, used, refurbished or rebuilt equipment is the best choice for you. You should have a clear idea of what you wish to buy and how it will add value to your lab.

The most obvious benefit of buying new equipment is that you are keeping pace with technological changes. New equipment sharpens your competitive edge and enables you to be more productive. New purchases come with the best warranty and customer-service plans. You’re less likely to experience downtime or repairs…or if you do, you have the reassurance of a guarantee. Rebuilt equipment is a good alternative, particularly if you are getting started or looking to expand. You could save 25 to 35 percent off the cost of new equipment. Warranties are often included. Generally a rebuilt machine is completely stripped and most moving parts replaced or rebuilt. Many rubber parts are also replaced. In some cases, the wiring harness is replaced as well.

Refurbished machines are often priced at less than 50 percent of new. The machines often have sliding surfaces and spindles reground or replaced. Worn rubber, bad switches and worn or defective motors are routinely replaced. Anything that is obviously defective….is replaced or repaired. Whether the equipment is rebuilt or refurbished, ask the “builder” for references and check his reputation online. Used equipment is the least expensive option and will cost you a small percentage of the original price. You can expect to pay 25 to 45 percent of what the equipment would have cost new. Before you purchase used equipment, always know the “new” price. Review your needs. Do you need all of the bells and whistles? Or will a basic model do? Optical machinery manufactured during the last fifteen years is more reliable than ever, if it has been well-maintained. You no longer need to purchase a new machine to have assurance of dependability.

The pricing of used equipment is dependent on the age, current condition, amount of use the machine has had, and the demand for that brand or model. Availability of parts and service is also very important. Even the best of machines eventually need to have a “wear part” replaced…..so be careful not to purchase a machine that is no longer supported by the “factory” or after market suppliers.

Generators, edgers and other machines have counters on them. A five- to eight-year-old machine with 30,000 cycles on it is usually worth more than a newer, similar model with 100,000 cycles on it.

You are responsible for carefully checking the condition of the equipment, which is not always easy. You might consider asking for a second opinion “online” or by hiring a specialist to help you. Cosmetics can “tell” a buyer a lot about the care a machine was given.

Do some homework. Speak to other labs and the original manufacturer to find out if there were any inherent issues with the machine that you are considering. You can also log online to optical machinery forums or blogs. Ask contributors for their experiences and referrals. Stay away from machines that are known for chronic problems. Ask the seller for maintenance and service records. Get the serial number and call the manufacturer to learn of updates or repairs needed.

There is nothing like a personal inspection. Operate the machine before buying it. Know what problems to look for in advance. An alternative is to request a video of the machine going through complete operating cycles.

Be careful of online auctions. They may be good for collectables, but not a good way to purchase production equipment. If the machine is older, make sure you get as many manuals as possible covering maintenance, parts, programming and electrical. Ask for a bill of sale that addresses details of the machine. Finally, your savings don’t only come when purchasing equipment. You can increase your budget by selling all of your unused equipment sitting in a hallway or jammed into a little room. There are even buyers for “broken” equipment, as many items can be rebuilt or used for parts.

USED OPTICAL EQUIPMENT DEALERS: www.Usedlabs.com Optical Works P&R McCoy Elko Cal-L Vision Systems Prism Tool

Barry Shepard is the owner of www.UsedLabs.com selling used, rebuild and new optical equipment. You can reach him at 714-963-8991 or by e-mail at barrybhepard@verizon.net.

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May/June LabTalk 2017