There are times when budget-priced instrumentation, or rented/leased instruments, will handle the job while going easy on the wallet.
Back in the 1980s, car makers typically used a light vehicle platform for more than eight years before they saw a need to design and develop a new one. This sort of extended product cycle was typical of many manufacturing industries. And it had an impact on the test and measurement instrumentation used to support design operations: It generally made sense to purchase test equipment rather than consider more short-term options such as equipment rental and leasing.
Today, of course, time frames for design and development have shortened up. Nevertheless, it probably still makes sense to own test equipment, rather than lease or rent it, for long-term projects, where instrumentation is frequently used, and when companies have the wherewithal to calibrate and maintain equipment themselves. Outright purchase probably also makes sense for equipment that will be moved frequently and will experience a fair amount of banging around—if rented equipment gets damaged, you may end up paying more than what you bargained for.
But a point to note is that the value of a new instrument depreciates instantly when it’s put into use, much like a car. Test equipment need not be purchased new, particularly in this era of rapidly changing technologies and company missions. There are advantages of buying test equipment used. Perhaps most obviously, prices can be 50-75% less than that of equivalent new instruments. Additionally, the used test equipment market is massive. Buyers get to choose from more equipment than any one brand could ever offer.
Perhaps the main hesitation about buying used concerns reservations about the quality of the equipment. But buying used test equipment online has become easier and more reliable – there are just many more premium used equipment suppliers than was the case even a decade ago.
For example, the Accu-Plus program from TRS-RenTelco offers up to 90% off the purchase price on select used equipment. Another way to economize on test equipment is to bundle the purchase. It’s customary for instrument suppliers to offer discounts for instruments bought as a package.
However, there are a few points to consider when dealing with such instrument suppliers. Among them: Who pays for shipping and transit insurance? Was the instrument calibrated, and if so, was calibration NIST traceable? Even rented/leased instruments have gone through a calibration that must undergo various certifications and meet standards. Rental units come already calibrated. The level of calibration might vary according to the quality of the supplier.
And is the advertised instrument really available? A lot of times, suppliers list equipment without actually possessing it. Whenever you purchase pre-owned test equipment, verify the supplier maintains the equipment physically and can provide it on short notice.
There are also common-sense points to be aware of whether the equipment is new or used: Confirm the instruments have a warranty and maintenance program. Also check if the equipment can be upgraded easily. And will the seller help with installation, integration with your current systems, training, and quick troubleshooting after acquisition? When repairs are included, what will be the response time?
In the same vein, the reputation of the instrument vendor matters. A long track record and happy previous buyers are both pluses. Also pertinent is whether the supplier specializes in the type of equipment you’re purchasing, whether they offer service contracts, and their return policy for pre-owned or as-is equipment.
Most resellers of test equipment also buy back instruments. If the supplier offers trade-ins, you may be able to trade up from the equipment you are buying . It doesn’t hurt to ask numerous questions– you might need to use the vendor again in the future.
Economics of instrument acquisition
There are a few rules of thumb about what you can expect to pay for rented or leased test gear. Monthly rental rates typically vary from 2.5% to 3.5% of the purchase price of the equipment. The rate also varies according to the life expectancy and the working condition of the equipment. The price will be higher for special configurations in the equipment. For example: MSRP of test equipment, $10,000; One-month rental, $1,000; Three-month rental, $870/month; Six-month rental, $750/month; One-year rental, $525/month (Discounts given for up-front payment of entire rental).
It has been observed rates can be more competitive in larger cities thanks to greater availability. However, that being said, all rental firms have multiple supplier options for the same instruments at almost the same price. These suppliers thus tend to focus on specific industries to compete with each other. Apart from focusing on specific industries, suppliers can also be distinguished on the basis of their online rating, customer feedback, and the additional features that they provide.
If a piece of machinery you rented needs maintenance, the rental company would be responsible for performing any service or repairs after hours. While there is a standard wording in the contract, some rental providers might have variations in the agreement. Normal wear and tear acts as an exception in the rental agreement, while damage can be termed as any additional decrease in the equipment’s efficiency due to unauthorized use or not handling the equipment with care.
Here is some typical wording found in rental agreements with regard to loss and damage:
To the extent permitted by law, the Lessee will be responsible for risk of loss, theft, damage or destruction of the Equipment from any and every cause.
If the equipment is lost or damaged, the Lessee will continue paying Rent, will provide the Lessor with prompt written notice of such loss or damage and will, if the Equipment is repairable, put or cause the Equipment to be put in a state of good repair, appearance and condition.
In the event of Total Loss of the Equipment, the Lessee will provide the Lessor with prompt written notice of such loss and will pay to the Lessor all unpaid Rent for the Term plus the Casualty Value of the Equipment, at which point ownership of the Equipment passes to the Lessee.
The American Association of Equipment Lessors can provide valuable information about leasing companies nearby. It is also important to keep in mind the company’s reputation for dealing with customers and maintaining relations. Leasing equipment is a long commitment, so good relations with the lessor are imperative. While doing your research, try to inquire about the company from current and previous customers. There are a lot of agencies as well such as the Better Business Bureau which provide the company status.
While online checks are great, the best way to verify the legitimacy of the supplier is to visit his workplace, either personally or through a third-party agent.
So much for buying equipment. No suppose you have equipment to sell. There are a lot of factors that determine its price. Reputed companies that act as a market between buyers and sellers have efficient pricing standards. However, online platforms such as eBay have lower regulation standards, leading to a wide variability in prices there.
A common approach to marketing your equipment starts by emailing a list of test equipment you want to sell to your potential commercial buyer; the manufacturer and part number is sufficient information but more details will help find a buyer quickly and estimate the price. Typical details include condition, age, existence of the manual and accessories, pictures, and any notes about the instrument. The company then evaluates and presents an offer. A representative may be sent to inspect the equipment. The buyer arranges pick up and transport once the offer is accepted. Then you get your check.
Finally, a few words about buying instruments on eBay. The good points include offering some amazing features with high performance while also providing great discounts. It is easier to search for unique equipment on eBay rather than scour hamfests.
The disadvantages of the platform is that you need to conduct more thorough research on the vendors. Go for the top rated vendors, those who have received multiple purchases for the item in question. It is better to opt for a slightly higher price option if the vendor is reliable. Also note there is a good chance eBay suppliers will charge extra for shipping. A lot of equipment ships from China, so shipping time may be significant. U.S,-based distributors charge more for premium delivery options. And eBay has a lot of counterfeit or faulty parts available for purchase, making the vendor research all the more important.