Tips and Tricks for Purchasing Equipment

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In manufacturing and development, equipment makes the job succeed.

You can stock a full team of incredibly skilled professionals with more combined experience than anyone, but it won’t do any good if they don’t have the right tools. Taking that a step further, if you choose equipment poorly, the results can be catastrophic.

It’s vital that you not only understand how to identify the proper equipment and hardware, but also how certain choices will affect your operations. Will leasing a particular machine instead of buying one, for example, be good or bad for your business? Will you need to spend additional funds on replacement parts, supplies or even on hiring specific maintenance crews?

It’s clear there are many factors to consider before ordering or purchasing equipment, let alone deploying it on your factory floors.

Purchasing Industrial Equipment

Manufacturers, construction crews and logistics experts alike have to rely on equipment out in the field. Regardless of what industry you’re working in, the machinery must be more of a help than a hindrance.

1. Purchasing Isn’t Always Best

Most companies will consider purchasing equipment and machinery outright as their first and only option. It makes sense, especially if you’re running a business where you need to manage your time, maintenance and operations.

But by purchasing equipment, especially the heavy and large machinery used in industrial settings, you are taking on full responsibility. If you need to carry out maintenance or regular servicing, if the equipment needs repairs or if you need to replace the hardware completely, it’s all on you and your company.

Alternatively, renting keeps the onus of securing and fixing equipment off your shoulders. Most avoid renting because it’s not always convenient for scheduling. There’s also added stress if you’re doing work that could damage or harm the equipment — you’ll be financially responsible, since you don’t own it.

Renting works best when dealing with older equipment that is either close to becoming obsolete or prone to failure. It’s also a great solution if a project or task you’re involved in is relatively short-term.

Leasing is the third, and final, option. Like a vehicle, when you lease equipment, you sign a contract tying you into payments and ownership for a certain amount of time. The primary benefit of leasing is that, while you are responsible for basic maintenance, you can still take the equipment in for professional service, usually at a discounted price. Also, when the contract is up, you can return the gear with little to no fees or charges if you no longer need it, taking some of the added responsibility off your shoulders.

There's also a lot of hubbub about a "Netflix-esque" membership with equipment providers that allows you to pre-pay for access to new machinery. It's a relatively new concept to the industry, but it may be something to think about, as well.

2. Strike up a Partnership

Whether this is a first-time purchase or the hundredth time, you’ll soon be returning to the market. That’s why it’s best to establish a partnership with an equipment provider that will foster a long-term relationship between vested parties. It ensures you know the equipment you’re buying is suitable, but also that you have someone to work with when you need custom gear.

Furthermore, you can meet with your partner(s) to find alternatives or better solutions, or even ask questions and guidance. Used equipment exchanges are also an excellent way to research and interact with potential equipment dealers. These online marketplaces connect businesses with hundreds of dealerships across the globe.

3. Never Base Your Decision on Price

It’s tough to do, especially when you’re dealing with incredibly expensive equipment and machinery, but you must avoid including price in your purchase decision. You still need to consider whether something fits in your budget, but don’t buy equipment because it’s more or less expensive.

Instead, consider the features it has and what those will do for your business. Define your needs before walking into a store — or machine plant — and use those to choose what works best. If you’re spending thousands on a name-brand machine that will sit idle most of the time, you could probably get away with going cheaper. But if it’s going to be your primary piece of equipment, operating continuously for hundreds of hours at a time, spend the extra money to get something you know is reliable.

In the end, base your investment on what you’re using the equipment for, how you will be using it and what you need out of it.

4. Trust the Experts

Equipment and hardware suppliers work regularly with other companies and manufacturing firms, so they have tons of experience. Provided you’re working with a credible partner and seller — and why wouldn’t you be? — it’s always best to defer to their advice or guidance. If they tell you another piece of hardware is a better choice, trust them.

That’s not to say you should throw your expertise and knowledge out the door, but you should seriously weigh the suggestions any partners are providing.

5. Consult Your Operators

Like any machine, your business has many cogs and gears that make up the entirety of its moving structure. If one of those cogs fails or jams up, it can cause the entire operation to halt. That’s why it’s vital to consider every element when acquiring new equipment, including your operators. These are the people that are going to be working with said hardware day in and day out. Shouldn’t they have a say in what you choose? What if there’s a particular system they don’t like or cannot use well?

Collect feedback from your operators, and above all, learn what they need or would like to have that their current setup is not providing. Even more important, keep up this conversation long after you’ve purchased and deployed equipment. You will gather even more insights that can help you in the future.

Megan Nichols

Megan Nichols is a technical writer and blogger. She writes about engineering, science and technology topics. Megan is also editor of Schooled By Science, an easy to understand science blog. With Schooled By Science she hopes to encourage others to learn more about STEM subjects.

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