If you’re feeling sticker-shocked by the price of brand-new machinery, you might consider buying used processing equipment instead. While this can offer significant cost savings, it can also be challenging to know exactly what to look for, where to look, and other best practices to follow.

How can you be confident that you’re getting a good deal on used oil milling machines, and avoid throwing money into an unreliable pile of metal that won’t meet your needs? We put together this Buyer’s Guide to help processors make smart investments when buying used processing equipment.

1. Understand your application.

Before you begin your search for used oilseed equipment, it’s important to know what type of machinery your operation needs.

Industrial processing machines require different configurations for each type of oilseed being processed. One roller mill could be modified for a dozen different uses, so make sure the used equipment you’re buying is designed for your specific application.

For example, two expellers may look identical from the outside, but one may have been used for rendering animal fat while the other was designed for oilseed processing. Always check with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to ensure the used machine you’re buying is set up for the material you’re processing and the performance you’re expecting.

2. Determine your capacity.

Size matters when buying oilseed processing equipment, so you need to know your plant’s processing capacity before investing in a machine. While you may find a great deal on a used expeller press than can process 500 tons per day, you could be throwing money away if you’re not positioned to run that capacity.

To find the right-sized equipment, just think of Goldilocks trying out three beds:

  • Too big: If an oversized press is underfed, it won’t generate enough pressure to compress the oil from the seeds effectively. You risk leaving behind valuable oil that will require additional passes through the press to extract. Plus, oversized equipment can inflate your operating costs because you have to generate more energy to run it.
  • Too small: Running a machine too small for your operation can be just as perilous to your bottom line. When overfeeding undersized equipment, you risk causing jams that can be quite expensive when considering the costly downtime required to clean up the mess.
  • Just right: When integrating used oilseed equipment into an existing system, each machine must be suited to keep up with other upstream and downstream processes. Matching your capacity with a used machine’s rating will increase your efficiency and reduce oil residuals for higher quality output.

3. Set your budget.

Knowing what you can afford to spend on processing equipment might point you down a different procurement path. Ultimately, you must balance your budget with your risk tolerance. For example:

  • Low cost, high risk: Buying used equipment directly from the previous owner is generally the least expensive option, costing approximately 25-35% of the cost of a brand-new machine. However, it also comes with the most risk because you’re buying used equipment as-is with no warranties or guarantees. If you’re fortunate enough to find another plant selling the exact machine you need, invest in an OEM inspection to examine the equipment before you buy it.
  • Moderate cost, moderate risk: Buying used equipment from a reseller may cost more, but a reputable reseller can help mitigate some of the risks. Whereas finding a direct seller can be like finding a needle in a haystack, resellers can help connect buyers to multiple available machines. When working with a reseller, you should consider OEM inspection and maintenance training to make the most of your “new” used machine.
  • Higher cost, low risk: Buying rebuilt equipment from a reseller who carefully inspects and restores machines can provide an attractive balance of price and performance. Rebuilt equipment typically costs about 75% of the cost of buying new, depending on how many parts have been replaced. Working with a reliable rebuilder can give you confidence that you’re purchasing an operational machine that’s nearly as good as new.
  • Highest cost, no risk: If you can afford it, buying brand new processing equipment gives you the latest technology specifically tailored to your needs. Obviously, the most expensive option, buying new machines straight from the OEM comes with minimal risk. Plus, OEMs usually offer maintenance training, repairs, and other services to keep their clients running.

4. Establish a timeline.

Depending on how quickly you need a machine, the timelines involved in buying new or used oilseed equipment may impact your purchase.

While it takes time for manufacturers to build new machines tailored to each plant’s specifications, buying used can often be a faster option if the equipment is available immediately. However, you may need to schedule an OEM inspection first, which could slow down the process.

You may have to wait months or even longer to find the right piece of used equipment that perfectly matches your capacity and configuration. Even after you find it, you may have to wait for a machine to ship internationally, which could add extra time.

If the rest of your plant is set up and you’re just waiting on one last piece, it may be more cost-effective in the long run to choose a machine that’s available immediately.

5. Plan for spare parts.

Replacing parts on used oil processing equipment is inevitable, so understanding the cost and availability of spare parts is key to making a wise purchase.

When examining used oilseed equipment, you can expect to see normal wear-and-tear on high-impact parts, like the barrel cage inside a screw press. These wearing components are relatively easy and inexpensive to replace.

By contrast, you don’t want to see cracks or damage to equipment frames or other major structural supports. Structural components can be costly to replace, and could jeopardize the overall safety of the machine. In fact, most resellers won’t even refurbish equipment if they find cracks or welds in the main structure.

Before considering any piece of used equipment, verify that you’ll have access to spare parts from the OEM. If the company or the machine is no longer in production, you may have to pay a machine shop to custom-build replacement parts, which can be expensive.

Read more about uncovering hidden flaws and red flags when buying used processing machines.

6. Ask for help when purchasing used processing equipment.

Once you’ve found a piece of used oilseed equipment, call the OEM to find out whether they provide:

  • Spare parts for the used machine you’re buying.
  • Inspections to verify the machine’s intended use and capacity rating.
  • Maintenance training to teach you how to care for the machine.
  • Repair services to troubleshoot and fix broken equipment.

By calling us before you buy a used Anderson machine, we can inspect our old equipment to verify the rated capacity and intended uses, while recommending which parts need to be replaced for optimal performance. We can also provide spare parts for all of our machines and ongoing field service maintenance to keep older equipment running.

After more than a century of serving oilseed processors, we know what to look for in oil processing equipment, and we’re happy to guide you through the buying process.

While Anderson is not in the business of reselling used oilseed equipment, we can put processors in contact with reputable, reliable resellers who can help them shop their options. We’re committed to helping processors make the best decisions for their operation, whether you end up buying equipment from Anderson or not.

Contact Anderson to start your search for used oilseed equipment.