Of used or refurbished equipment

To optimise the lifecycles of their equipment, both mining and construction equipment owners are resorting to refurbished or used equipment

One thing for certain is that the global mining sector is in dire straits, especially on the back of constrained commodity prices. With mining being a money spinner for most African economies, investments into infrastructure development activities have also dried out, meaning both construction and mining contractors are feeling the full brunt of this slowdown.

With no sustainable pipeline of projects, investments into new equipment are definitely slowing. To optimise the lifecycles of their equipment, both mining and construction equipment owners are resorting to refurbished or used equipment. Equipment users understand the importance of preserving their investments by extending their equipment’s life by having it rebuilt. Rebuilding improves the machine’s dependability while increasing productivity and lowering production and operating costs.

However, there is very thin, but clear line between refurbished and used equipment, meaning that they are not one and the same thing. Though both terms insinuate previous ownership, refurbished equipment, when done under OEM standards, complies with quality standards, often with the same warranty options as new gear. Though refurbished equipment is often backed by standards, different vendors use different processes, parts, levels of exactitude and quality-acceptance levels to refurbish the equipment they sell.

It is often the norm that when times are this tough, price is the prime determinant of what we buy, but when the equipment you are buying is business-critical, quality and authenticity should be your most important considerations. When buying refurbished equipment, it is utmost significance to ascertain that the refurbished piece of equipment has a warranty and maintenance programme. This way, should it fail, it will be under the same level of protection as new equipment.

The growing preference of purely used equipment with no form of refurbishment is also notable, and it is the African fleet operators particularly notorious of preferring this gear. Often used equipment is just bought with no available previous maintenance records or knowledge of previous concerns. According to a representative of a major international OEM we spoke to at bauma 2016, the challenge today is that Africa is a market with the biggest number of used machines. He even reiterated that when saying used, he didn’t even mean five to seven-year old machines. In Africa you can get a 20-year old excavator or even a 25-year old grader still working on site, and would have changed hands five times.

I believe when buying used equipment, it is noteworthy to look beyond the price tag. Nothing can be worse than buying a piece of equipment at a “bargain” price only to have it fail shortly after it is deployed at a crucial jobsite where any form of downtime is out of question, especially considering that project timelines of today are unforgiving. If you make a mistake on a small appliance, you will have a few regrets and move on. That same mistake on a big piece of construction equipment has long reaching implications that will cost you for the long haul.

Thina Bhebhe

Review overview