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Buying used oilseed processing equipment can be an attractive, economical alternative to purchasing brand new machinery for your plant. By reducing your overall investment costs, you can start turning a profit even sooner—but only if the equipment operates as expected, without any hidden surprises lurking inside. In this case, the old adage of “buyer beware” serves as a warning to processors searching for used equipment.

By comparison, buying used equipment directly from another plant or previous owner might only cost 25-35% as much as a brand new press. However, the seller might inflate the performance specs and condition of the equipment just to close the deal. Much like buying a used car from the classified ads, you may not recognize the potential flaws and defects of your investment until you’re broken down on the side of the road.

That’s why we always recommend buying used equipment from a reputable reseller that rebuilds and inspects these machines with a focus on quality, safety, and performance. Comparatively, rebuilt equipment could cost between 60-75% as much as a new machine, depending on how many parts have been replaced.

Reaping the savings of used equipment hinges on several key factors. Whether you’re buying used or rebuilt equipment, it’s critical that you conduct careful due diligence to ensure that you’re investing in usable equipment that will meet your plant’s processing needs.

To make the most of your investment, here are four risks to watch out for when shopping for used oilseed processing equipment.

1.     Equipment Configuration

When you’re looking to buy used equipment, the seller may tell you anything you want to hear in order to close the sale and get rid of their machine. “So, you want to use this equipment to extract soybean oil? Look no further.” “Oh, you plan to process sunflower seeds? This equipment will be perfect for you!”

But will it, really? Most oilseed processing equipment is designed for a specific application, based on the parameters and capacities of each facility. That means each machine may be configured for a certain process or workflow that differs dramatically from your intended use.

For example, the expeller you’re looking at could have been used for rendering animal fat in its previous life, instead of processing oilseed. Even from one type of oilseed to the next, presses may entail entirely different setups—such as the shape and speed of the shaft—depending on the oil content and ideal cooking processes for each type of material. Although these machines may look practically identical from the outside, the internal components might be tailored for a distinct type of plant that may not meet your specific processing needs.

To mitigate the risk of buying improperly configured equipment, always check with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to verify each machine’s intended process and rated performance capacity. Don’t just take the seller’s word for it.

2.     Warranty Terms

Typically, warranties from the OEM become void as soon as a machine is shipped or installed. While equipment resellers and rebuilders may offer additional limited warranties for used equipment, these terms similarly tend to expire as soon as a machine is shipped—offering used equipment buyers little protection against the unexpected.

To compensate for the limited (or, in some cases, lack of) warranty coverage for used oilseed processing equipment, it’s critical that you take the time upfront to carefully inspect each machine and ask all the right questions, so you know exactly what you’re getting.

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3.     Hidden Flaws

A customer recently hired us to evaluate a rebuilt Anderson Expeller® that they purchased from its previous owner. On the outside, the press looked as good as new, thanks to a fresh coat of paint. But once we removed the cages and peered inside, we discovered years of built-up oil residue and broken components that required more extensive repairs than the buyer anticipated.

When buying used oilseed processing equipment, you can expect to find normal wear-and-tear on certain parts, such as the barrel cage and the worm shaft in a screw press. Fortunately, these wearing components are typically low cost to replace with spare parts—assuming you can find spare parts, which we’ll get to momentarily.

However, when examining used machines, pay close attention to the equipment frames and other non-wearing components. Cracks in the frame or other major structural supports can be very expensive to replace— and could even jeopardize the overall integrity and safety of the machine. For that reason, most reputable resellers won’t even bother to refurbish equipment if they find cracks or welds in the main structure. They scrap it immediately.

To avoid overlooking any hidden flaws when buying used oilseed processing equipment, ask to examine the machine from the inside out. Never judge a machine by its outward appearance; the internal components are far more important to its performance.

4.     Availability of Spare Parts

Although certain parts, such as gears and bearings, can be fairly inexpensive to replace in used oilseed equipment, these repairs depend on the availability of the spare parts required. For older equipment that’s no longer in production, it can be a huge hassle to find the exact parts you need.

If the OEM still supports the model you’re buying, fixing up used equipment might be as easy as ordering the spare parts you need. But if a piece of equipment has been discontinued, you’ll have to hunt for similar copycat parts from other manufacturers.

If replacement parts aren’t available on the market, you may have to resort to a machine shop that can build custom parts to spec. But beware: custom-made parts often come at a premium, so the cost of tailoring these components to an older machine can quickly offset any savings you hope to gain by buying used equipment in the first place.

This dilemma might be exacerbated if there isn’t a new or gently used part to pull from the used machine that can be used as a prototype for the machine shop to reverse-engineer. Without accurate dimensions, these replicated parts might be out of tolerance, which can seriously impede the machine’s performance. For example, shafts must be precisely designed and manufactured to compress material properly, and if it’s even one-thousandth of an inch off, a makeshift shaft could degrade the machine’s performance or even damage the equipment.

To reduce the hassle of finding spare parts for used oilseed processing equipment, verify that the OEM still supports the model and can provide spare parts as needed. At the very least, make sure you can source copycat parts from other manufacturers that meet the machine’s specifications.

Read more: How to Avoid Expensive Downtime With Spare Parts

Support for used oilseed processing equipment

Although there are numerous uncertainties when buying used oilseed processing equipment, the experts at Anderson International can help alleviate some of these risks.

Through equipment and plant surveys, we can inspect a used piece of Anderson equipment to verify its intended process and rated performance capacity. By bringing us in prior to purchasing used equipment, we can help provide the confidence that you’re buying a machine that will serve your purpose well.

After purchasing used Anderson equipment, we can also conduct on-site maintenance and operation training to show you how to properly use and care for it. We also provide spare parts and ongoing service to keep older Anderson equipment running, so your plant can keep processing and turning a profit without the investment of brand new machinery.

To speak with an Anderson engineer about used equipment and spare parts, contact Anderson International today.