20 tips to buy pre-owned kit

Buying a used press is great way of maximising value from your investment and the savvy buyer can save thousands off the price of a new machine, and benefit from all the latest technologies

21 May 2013 | By PrintWeek India

India is showing a growing appetite for used equipment, particularly for certain applications. HP IPG worldwide marketing director Francois Martin said that India is becoming “a huge market for photobooks” generating demand for refurbished Indigo 5000 and 5500 machines which once set up and calibrated correctly can produce consistent quality in this type of work.

Phil Cunningham, sales director at BBR Graphics said that India also makes a sizeable proportion of the UK company’s international business. “They buy the large machines with UV,” he said. “And they’re taking them faster in India than they are in the US,” citing cheaper labour costs as making this type of press particularly attractive.

Even though buying used can mean you’re getting a great deal, it can still be a considerable investment and you should take all sensible precautions to make sure the process goes smoothly.

Bill McCudden, sales and business development manager for Heidelberg remarketed equipment warned: “Beware of dealers appearing to offer something too good to be true; and beware of individuals or apparent companies who might have plausible-looking websites but whom nobody in the industry has ever come across before.

“These characters often offer stunningly attractive machines at almost irresistible prices, yet when you phone to ask for further details they will often insist on you paying a 10%-15% deposit before you will be allowed to inspect the machine.”

Again, machines advertised with only a mobile phone number as a contact, or a webmail address such as Gmail or Yahoo, are all warning signs that things may not be as they seem.

So here are our experts’ tips on how you can make sure you really are getting the bargain you think you are.

1. Always see the press – you might be dealing with a small-time broker rather than a dealer who doesn’t own the machine and knows no more about it than the advert that caught your eye in the first place

2. Ask for a serial number – if the seller can’t give you the serial number, the chances are they don’t own the press

3. Bring an expert when viewing – it might cost you extra, but compared to the price of a press, the cost of having an engineer look over a machine for any hidden problems is well worth the money. Parts such as gears and cylinders are expensive to replace and can cause more damage if left in situ, so being confident they are in good condition is a must.

4. Never agree to send a deposit before you’ve seen the press – there are plenty of sorry tales of potential buyers being scammed and never seeing their deposit again, let alone the press they wanted to buy.

5. Check the people – check with other people if the seller is a reputable person to do business with. Who else has dealt with this person or company, and what other machines do they have on offer? If they are unknown in the industry and they only have one machine for sale, it’s probably best to leave well alone.

6. If you’re buying internationally consider buying through a domestic dealer – if things go wrong, it’s easier to get a solution if you’re working with someone in the same country.

7. Don’t’ hold too much stock in the impression count – it used to be that a press should be clocking around 20m impressions a year and anything wildly above that would indicate it’s been over-used. However, the latest presses are capable of running at much faster speeds and are often bought to replace multiple older machines, so bear in mind how fast the press is before you write it off because of a high impression count.

8. Expect to pay more for presses that have a service contract – if there’s proof from the manufacturer that it’s been well looked after and regularly serviced, you’ll certainly be able to buy with confidence, but it will likely cost you more.

9. Know what’s been refurbished – a good dealer will be able to show you the parts they have replaced to prove the work they have done.

10. Don’t haggle over Rs 1000 for a Rs one crore kit – buying a press, delivering it, installing it is a complicated and lengthy process. There’s no need to create bad blood between the two parties by arguing over the unimportant things.

11. Don’t expect the seller to offer to insure delivery – too many dealers have been stung by claims of parts having gone missing on delivery of a press. Many will expect the buyer to bear that cost if they wish to have that kind of insurance.

12. Beware the ‘tailgate warranty’ – this has become an industry catchphrase for cases where the delivery of the press is the last contact you have with the seller, and any subsequent problems are not covered despite any promises to the contrary. In short, make sure you’re dealing with a reputable dealer.

13. Be savvy about payment – LOC (Letter of credit) is the safest way to ensure payments are made and received, although banks will charge you a premium on every thousand pounds, making it a relatively expensive method. TT same day transfer is often used and is cheaper. Never accept a cheque!

14. Buy digital kit from the manufacturer or a certified and trusted reseller – while you might think you can get a better deal on a digital by going direct to a printer, you won’t really know what condition it’s in without putting it through approved professional refurbishment by either the manufacturer or its partners.

15. Expect it to perform – a refurbished digital machine will have the components for the inking system, paper path and other elements replaced or upgraded as required, while the electronics and chassis are built to last – there’s no reason it shouldn’t function just as well as if it were bought new.

16. Get trained – having operators properly trained will help ensure ongoing productivity, with the right substrates being used for the right applications

17. Check the clicks – a digital press such as the Indigo 5000 will happily chew through 3,00,000 – 4,00,000 pages a year, so you can benchmark productivity against the age of the machine for some idea of how much utilisation it has seen. However, be a bit more wary of machines with 10m page counts.

18. Know the range not just the model – major manufacturers will have machines that cater for an upgrade path as volumes, niche applications, or both grow, meaning you can have a consistent hardware experience with one point of contact from the same manufacturer

19. Know the owner of your intended purchase – talking to the owner will enable you to understand which applications the machine thrives on, while joining networks of similar users gives you access to a huge amount of information when you have any questions.

20. Visit pressXchange – pressXchange is the world’s biggest marketplace for used printing equipment, listing thousands of machines from hundreds of dealers in more than 30 different countries around the globe. In October, India represented nearly 10% of all visits – 4,670 – making it one of the key territories. You can see the latest machines at www.pressxchange.com

(Words: Matt Whipp, product manager of printweek.com and pressxchange.co.uk)