There is no doubt that modern units used for the efficient management of intralogistics processes are perfect for coping with the permanent workload and demands resulting from continuous operation. The robust construction of the horizontal carousel storage systems or vertical storage lift systems is designed to ensure they last a long time, which, along with their efficiency in the area of process handling, makes them a highly sought-after modular solution by a growing number of companies.
However, it is precisely this reliability that makes them just as interesting for the used machine market. After all, the units can be dismantled relatively quickly and reassembled in a new location. The software that controls them is also designed so that it can be easily integrated into existing warehouse management systems.
Buy used machines at more reasonable prices
So what are the pros and cons of buying a used machine? Why not simply buy the necessary storage shuttle second-hand?
Firstly, let us examine the factors that speak in favor of old units:
- The solid design means that the machines are built to last. Made for demanding use in the warehouse, the units are built so robustly that they will work perfectly at full capacity for a number of years. In addition, regular maintenance extends the life of the systems and allows any damage to be identified and rectified at an early stage. If individual parts show signs of wear, they can generally be replaced without problem. Accordingly, in terms of operational reliability, there are very few drawbacks to purchasing a used machine, assuming that it has been regularly maintained and has undergone a final technical inspection before the purchase.
- Modern storage systems generally have a modular design, which means that they can be dismantled, transported to another facility, and reassembled relatively easily. The dimensions of the space may be the only sticking point if the size of the model which has been tailor-made for the previous owner doesn’t fit as perfectly in its new environment. The consequences of not making optimal use of the height, for instance, would be wasted storage space.
- The modern storage systems are equipped with their own control software. However, this can easily be integrated into the buyer’s existing ERP solutions and used just as efficiently with them. As such, there are also no drawbacks to purchasing and using used machines from an IT perspective.
- Although the three points outlined above are practically prerequisites for the smooth and successful integration of older systems into a company’s own storage logistics, the investment costs are a crucial factor for many. Compared to the high cost of new units, a not inconsiderable amount of money can be saved by buying a used system. A number of suppliers who deal in used storage units are active on the market and they subject them to an extensive check-up before they are sold in order to guarantee operational reliability.
The purchase price is not the crucial factor
- Firstly, the difference in price is not as big as some customers might expect. The main reason for this is the low depreciation of storage systems which are built to last. Since wear is kept within limits when used correctly and spare parts can easily be obtained for most components, the units retain their value. Users of older machines therefore calculate precisely whether it is worth purchasing a new one. If there are no major changes to the internal logistics processes and the product range and sales structure both remain the same, there are few good reasons to replace the units on a regular basis as perhaps would be the case with a vehicle fleet. As such, the market for used units is somewhat limited, which in turn keeps price levels higher.
- Modern storage systems generally have a modular design so that they can be precisely tailored to meet the buyer’s technical needs. This may be in relation to the dimensions of the warehouse to which the system is adapted, or it may take the form of additional software packages and settings fitted to the unit, for instance to handle electronic components. The buyer of a new system can tailor every detail of the required solution to suit their needs. It therefore follows that the buyer of a used unit has to lower their sights in relation to the usefulness of the system and ultimately the company’s productivity if it does not exactly meet their own specifications – which only ought to apply in a very small number of cases.
- Dynamic storage systems are also not spared from the unstoppable march of technical progress. In terms of productivity, the long lifetime of the entire system must therefore be compared to the new product. After all, what may have once been perfectly optimized could be in need of technical improvements just a few years later if not overhauled. The rapid growth in software-assisted control systems, made possible by ever faster processors, produces units which work ever more precisely and efficiently. But the design of the units is also changing, because materials that are highly robust, yet comparatively much lighter and more durable can increasingly be used, which has a positive effect on wear. New units therefore always have an advantage over older models in terms of productivity, which speaks in favor of buying a new system when a cost-benefit analysis on the acquisition of storage units is performed.
- However well the used models have been made and maintained, they are nonetheless more prone to signs of wear and tear. The associated higher costs for more frequent service intervals and the purchase of spare parts also have a negative effect on the overall cost of used systems.
- In the rarest of cases the older units may still be under the manufacturer’s guarantee which came with the new product. Associated services such as free servicing by the manufacturer’s specialist team or the replacement of faulty components no longer apply to used machines. Besides the higher costs, this also entails much more administrative work to research, purchase, and fit the new parts.
- When a new machine is purchased, it is installed precisely in its location and the entire process is overseen by the manufacturer’s specialist team. They make sure that the unit fits perfectly in its new environment and everything runs smoothly. This is not the case with older models.
- Before a new system is purchased, a detailed analysis is performed to ensure that the internal ERP system on the customer’s side harmonizes optimally with the software installed on the new storage unit. After all, the new unit will only work really effectively if the control system can be easily integrated into the customer’s warehouse management software.
- The purchase of a new system is based on a trusting working relationship between the buyer and the manufacturer. This partnership pays off for the buyer, even if no problems arise while purchasing the new system. Besides having named contact persons to answer any questions relating to the units or the software installed in them, subsequent servicing and training are also among the additional services provided by the manufacturer in contrast to an intermediate dealer.
- Furthermore, there is the intermediate dealer’s not inconsiderable price markup, which is not only attributable to costs for transporting and inspecting the used units, but also their profit markup. This all adds up to a higher price which significantly detracts from the savings associated with the more reasonably priced investment. In comparison, the difference in the purchase price of a new storage system no longer looks as big as expected.
- The purchase price can be spread over a long period with monthly instalments. In addition, manufacturers frequently offer leasing solutions, which help to radically reduce the initial investment costs. It is a more cost-effective solution for those who balk at the high start-up costs associated with purchasing a new system. Leasing arrangements of this kind generally cannot be found with intermediate dealers.
In conclusion, it should be said that it is always advisable to directly contact the intralogistics company that supplies the preferred units before buying in order to establish the terms of a new purchase. The comparison has shown that this is often the more efficient solution in the medium and long term. It is often only after a prospective buyer has spoken to experts that they become aware of the acceleration in processes and increase in productivity that can be achieved by using dynamic storage and retrieval systems. And taking everything into consideration, it is precisely such systems which appear to be better value when purchased new. It is little wonder when the ROI can generally be achieved within 12 to 24 months.