Ten Tips for Buyers

1.What about the initial cost?

It is a commercial mistake to base your purchase solely on the initial asking price. It makes good business sense to think about preventive / corrective maintenance costs in the future.  A machine, truck or crane may be more expensive today, but longer term, factors like durability and reliability will mean a much more cost-effective purchase in the long term.

A bargain today, could turn out an expensive mistake for your business in the longer term.

Shop around to get a good feel for what value you should be paying, then focus on the equipment available which will service your requirements and will last the distance!

2.What about safety?

Pay careful attention to the safety features as these will impact directly on your business, and the working life of your equipment. Ensure your potential purchase meets European or similar safety standards where you intend to use it – is it CE marked for example. Certain equipment entering the USA has to be EPA compliant, you will need to check that it is and the relevant markings are there.

Ensure the CE mark and serial number plate are visible on the equipment, and that you have been shown the EC declaration of conformity.

Your new purchase may look the part, but if it does not comply with relevant regulations where you operate, it could be a risk to life, and may cost you your business.

3.How can I ensure I own the equipment?

It is essential that once you have paid for your equipment, you know it belongs to you. 

Check out the company you are buying from, how long have they been trading, check their registration number and VAT number with your local authority.  Ask to see proof of ownership (underlying invoice), registration and testing papers.

Check the documents carefully to ensure the information, chassis number, serial number and registration mark match the equipment on offer.

Check the equipment thoroughly, ask the manufacturer about the history of the machine or truck, and verify it is not subject to finance and if it is make sure you are in control of discharging this liability.

If you are financing the purchase, your lender will require these checks, and may usually carry out some themselves.

4.What about specification / extras?

It is vital from the start to ensure both you and the seller are clear regarding what comes with your equipment, and you must check list everything you want in the deal.  For cranes, fly jib, weights, hook blocks and other crucial equipment are extremely costly post purchase from the manufacturer.

Be aware of your requirements, and if you need things that are not included with your equipment, be very aware of how you will procure them and what the cost will be.

Don’t buy equipment for today’s work, think longer term about what other jobs you may be asked to carry out.  Ensure your equipment can meet the needs of a variety of tasks, not just the job in hand.

5.What about lifting capacity?

Never exceed the lifting capacity of any crane.  Know your job requirements, and ensure the crane you are buying meets them.  Over loading a crane has serious health, safety & insurance implications as well as causing excessive wear on crane components.  Ensure your crane is fitted with a safe load lift device and it is in good working order.

6.Can you ask about maintenance?

Yes, and you should. The service history will provide a useful insight into the life of your equipment thus far, and what problems it may have had.  Whilst some circumstances may mean this information is lost, or simply not available, if it is then it should be reviewed. You can approach the manufacturer to ascertain information on service history and warranty claims relative to your purchase.

Don’t be afraid to ask, cranes, trucks & construction equipment are expensive and the more you know about your purchase the better.

Cranes, trucks and plant malfunction, all machinery does, but you need to know that issues with your equipment have been addressed in the correct way, and recommended service intervals have been adhered to.

Think about who manufactured the equipment, you may need them.  Consider their service offering in your area, and the cost of labour and parts.

7.Can things be added?

Why not? If the equipment you want to buy has things missing that you would like, ask the supplier to build this into the deal.  In the majority of cases, they will be better placed to buy extras and have them fitted for you, either new or pre-owned.  There is no requirement for a machine to be cutting edge, but if your equipment has everything you need from the start, it will avoid costly purchases and potential down time later.

8.What guarantees come with my equipment?

In a number of cases the answer will be none, but it is worth asking.  If you are buying a later machine perhaps from a manufacturer outlet, then they may include some warranty, or make a charge to provide this for you.

Whoever you buy from, if you don’t ask it is unlikely to be offered!

All the more reason to ensure you look closely at what you are buying, and preferably have a reputable engineer check over the mechanically and operational aspects of your purchase.

9.My equipment is in another country, what do I do?

Don’t panic, there are professionals more than capable of moving your equipment over land and water. Let them do their job.  Remember, as with machinery, you get what you pay for.  The cheapest quote may not be the best when your pride and joy is stuck in a port awaiting clearance when it should be earning your business money!

10.In summary, what key factors am I looking for in my machine?

OK - you want your equipment for a good price, but price in the long run is only one consideration. A well manufactured and well maintained machine will serve your business well long into the future.

Be clear on what you want before you go to the market, be happy with the supplier and make sure the deal on offer is right for you.  

DON’T RUSH! – a cheap machine could easily be the wrong machine – in many ways!

Make a checklist of your requirements before you start, and ONLY commit only as these are ticked off.