Buyer Beware: 6 Questions to Ask to Determine if Used Packaging Equipment Is the Right Fit

15 December 2016 //

Equipment PurchasingProject Planning

Used and pre-owned packaging equipment, including shrink wrap machines, is a common solution for many manufacturers. When purchased correctly, used equipment can be a cost effective and quick way to meet your packaging needs. It can also be a good “foot-in-the-door” when transitioning from a manual packaging process to a semi-automatic or fully automatic process. However before signing on the dotted line, it’s important to do your homework.

Answer the following six questions to determine whether used equipment is really the best solution for you.

Who is selling the used equipment and why? 

Knowing who the previous equipment owner was and why they parted ways with the machine are the most fundamental questions you should ask when purchasing used equipment. It’s also important to learn if the machine has had more than one owner. Similar to buying a used car, learning as much history as possible about the packaging machine can provide insight into how it was operated and maintained—be sure to request its service records. Improper or deferred preventive maintenance can affect a machine’s efficiency and become costlier to maintain it over time.

Does the used equipment fit your project needs?

For simple applications, such as a stretch wrapper or an L-bar sealer, there are is a wealth of used equipment options available. However, the more specific the packaging project gets, the fewer options there are for quality used equipment. Identifying your project needs upfront can help you determine how closely the used machine will fit your application.

How old is the used machine? 

Over time, as a machine ages, the more difficult and costly it will become to keep it up-to-date. Depending on the age of the machine you’re considering, there are certain areas that should be evaluated, including:

  • Safety systems: Check to see they match your current standards
  • Control systems: Are they up to date? If not, can they be upgraded?

Does the used equipment come with a warranty or guarantee? 

Discuss with the seller their willingness to stand behind your investment dollars. Additionally, if the used machine needs to be modified to match your application, discuss who will be completing this work and whether the work is warrantied. Factory acceptance tests and warranties help protect manufacturers from purchasing faulty new equipment; make sure your used equipment passes the same test.

Who will be servicing the machine? 

Preventive maintenance on a new or used machine is imperative to its longevity. Discuss with the seller their capability to provide service themselves or provide a third party to perform quarterly preventive maintenance or emergency services. If the used machine is not sold directly from the OEM, it’s important to contact the OEM (if they’re still in business) to see if they’re willing to continue to service the used machine.

Are spare/replacement parts still available? 

Common components such as photo eyes, relays, or door switches may be widely available for years. Specific electrical controls or components unique to the machine may be more likely to be obsolete or, at a minimum, be harder/costlier to find. As with service, it’s important to contact the OEM to investigate the availability of a spare parts kit.

If you can confidently answer these six questions, then a used machine might be the right fit for you.

EDL has sold multiple refurbished machines, all of which have been successful in the field. If you’re in the market for an end-of-line shrink bundling system (new or refurbished) or are just beginning to evaluate your options, contact us to learn more.