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October 2016 • SMT Magazine 81 HOW TO EVALUATE A USED MACHINE machine. They may do their best to bring it up to today's standards, but the all-important fac- tory support is still missing. Considerations with Older Equipment With electronics, a reconditioned unit will be updated with new and improved accessories or technology. If you are considering a pick and place machine, for example, consider the age and condition of its feeders. If the machine is factory reconditioned, it will likely come with updated feeders; plus, you will be able to adapt the machine with any current options or acces- sories that are normally offered. Most of the used equipment for sale online today is well aged and may not have replace- ment parts even available. If the machine was made by a U.S. manufacturer currently in busi- ness, there's a good chance that they can sup- port the needed repair parts or fabricate some- thing from scratch if it's no longer in stock. At the risk of repetition, be sure to ask what regis- tration costs with a factory reconditioned ma- chine, and if they charge for support separately, what the hourly rate is. Finally, research the seller's policies regarding returns if something doesn't work as you expect. If you already have equipment from the OEM re-seller, such as an existing reflow oven or pick and place machine, and you are look- ing to extend your production, buying the same brand makes compatibility smoother, and ac- cessories such as feeders or pallets can be inter- changed. Working with a brand name you are comfortable with can avoid lost time to retrain the operators, change maintenance protocols, or reconfigure company software. SMT Robert Voigt is VP of global sales at DDM Novastar Inc. To reach Voigt, click here. Sometimes a manufacturer is forced to downsize and sell off some equipment that may no longer fit what they need. So they decide to sell it on eBay or another discount online site. It may be in perfect working order, and it may be something you want test out before invest- ing in a full line. I suggest contacting the man- ufacturer directly to see what support, warranty and training they offer even before making an offer on an online store. You should also con- sider the type of equipment and its average life cycle. If you can, check to see how many miles (or years of operation) are on stencil printers, pick and place machines, reflow ovens, or sol- dering systems. "Reconditioned" vs. "Used" Older equipment may have outdated soft- ware and old style feeders, for example, where- as a factory reconditioned machine will be up- graded with the latest software and mechanical systems to bring it up to date. A factory recon- ditioned machine should also come with the same warranty as a new machine, but be sure to ask. Example: Mr. Joe Shopper searches on the Internet for a used pick and place machine and finds what he believes is a great deal at $9,000, originally valued at $30,000; however, he doesn't even know what questions to ask to understand what's involved in bringing it up to date. So he contacts the factory that originally made the machine in 1985 and discovers that he needs to spend another $12,000 to update the software and recondition other features so that it operates reliably. He also would need to register the machine with the OEM in order to get operating instructions, regular software updates, and 24/7 phone tech support that he'll need to ensure it runs the way it should. That will cost him another $3,000. By the time he's done, he'll have a machine in good work- ing order, but he might have spent as much as $24,000, whereas, if he had gone directly to the manufacturer looking for a certified recon- ditioned machine, he might have been able to get a factory reconditioned machine for around $15,000. Remember, a third-party reconditioned ma- chine is not the same as a factory reconditioned

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