Recycling equipment brings cash to the bottom line

Jan. 13, 2009
Russ Kratowicz, P.E., CMRP, executive editor, reports that recycling equipment can bring bucks to the bottom line.

So what if your 401(k) is dragging bottom with the rest of the economy? Root around under your mattress and drag out the spare cash. Now is the time to get into the market. Surely, you remember the old adage that says there’s money to be made when there’s blood flowing on Wall Street. You know the concept — buy low, sell high. Can things get much lower?

And what’s good for the individual is good for the company. With plants scaling back operations, perhaps even closing for good, it might be the right time for your organization to purchase used and reconditioned plant assets at rock-bottom prices. If your employer’s till has enough cash reserve to enter the marketplace without having to secure credit, so much the better. If not, maybe you have something to sell. Join me in this month’s quest for credible, practical, zero-cost, noncommercial, registration-free resources that can help prepare you to grow your bottom line faster once the economic nonsense retreats behind the golden glow of capitalism at its best. Remember, we search the Web so you don’t have to.

Two viewpoints

We recognize the risks inherent in purchasing used equipment of any sort. Potential problems include hidden flaws, a paucity of spare parts and lack of warranty. You either pay the premium to avoid these risks or bank the cash and take your chances. A pair of articles at covers both sides of the argument. If you enter the phrase “security blanket” in the search box, you’ll be rewarded with “Point: The New Equipment Security Blanket,” by Carrie Ellis. On the other hand, if you enter the phrase “equipment purchasing power” in the search box, you get to read “Counterpoint: Maximizing Equipment Purchasing Power,” by Jeff Reinke. These are short articles that cut to the chase.

Investment recovery program

No doubt, somewhere out back on your plant property is that very special place where decommissioned equipment and other material — I hesitate to call it scrap — spend their golden years in dusty, oxidizing obscurity. Be aware, however, that you’d be in error to consider such a repository as hallowed ground. It represents a waste that no right-thinking manufacturing operation can afford to tolerate in this economy. The disposition of used equipment is never as visible or managed as well as its opposite. So, all you need is well-structured disposition chain management, which is the mirror image of supply-chain management. And, you can get some tips from “Surplus Asset Sales, Investment Recovery 201,” a 1,200-word article by Michael Lawrence. It’s posted on MarketSiteLive, which provides free information about buying and selling used, overstock and new items. Haggle your way over to to jump on this opportunity to bring in some cash.

There are many investors who, on paper, are millionaires. Unfortunately, the true determinant of one’s wealth is what some disinterested party is willing to pay for those equities, bonds and arcane derivative assets. It’s a capitalistic system and that buy-sell mechanism is, after all, what brought us to the economic conditions we now enjoy. I think it would be advantageous for hardware hoarders to be on the sell side of the equation right now. So, when you decide to clear the hardware out of the back 40, investigate the idea of selling it through an auction. It’s a way to minimize the labor content involved in selling assets that have a small profit margin. Get familiar with the auction process by reading “How to sell used equipment online,” which is posted on the site owned by Industracom, North Sydney, Australia. Put your bid on and use the “find” drop-down menu to change the category from suppliers to articles. Then, enter the phrase “used equipment” in the keyword slot. This should return links to something like 15 articles. Look for the one that offers advice about selling used equipment online.

Used vehicles

It’s been said that a new car loses about 30% of its value as soon as you drive it off the lot. If that’s true, it’s probably the most costly 30 seconds in a person’s life. Used vehicles, on the other hand, are more economical to buy, but if it’s an industrial vehicle, it likely will take quite a bit of abuse during its remaining life. So, before you spend corporate funds on such a beater, you should take heed of Robert Tate, a U.K.-based dealer in used agricultural equipment and trucks. His article, “Guide to Buying Used Equipment Online,” touches on some considerations you should keep in mind. Get those words of wisdom from, where you enter the phrase “buying used equipment online” in the search box. Make sure you use the parentheses. You might need to scroll down to find the article.

Economical computers

The ubiquity of computers presents a double-edged opportunity. Given that not every user needs a CPU with the latest and greatest bells and whistles, it might be possible to match the box to the job by means of an economical used unit. If you’re interested in this avenue, you should read “How to Buy Used Equipment for Your Business and Still Get Good Stuff” by staceytg, an online writer whose identity couldn’t be discerned. The article is found at, a site by Bright Hub, Troy, N.Y., that seeks to “share knowledge about how the simplest scientific idea evolves into tomorrow’s technology.” Go there and enter “17411” in the search box. The other edge is that you need to read the caveats should you decide to sell your old computers. Better yet would be to contribute those old units to some nonprofit organization in your area. They need the help right now.

Additional information about buying used computers is available from Sandhills Publishing Co., Lincoln, Neb., on its Web site. Enter the phrase “buying used equipment” in the search box and look for two articles titled “Processor Editorial Article - Buying Used Equipment.” The Oct. 10, 2008 version, by Carmi Levy, presents six factors you should keep in mind when you go to the marketplace seeking used computer hardware. The idea is to maximize value by matching the computer to the job to be done and finding a trustworthy seller. The Oct. 7, 2005 version by Elizabeth Millard discusses the technical difference between used and refurbished, and the importance of warranties. Scroll down the listing to find additional information that might enter into your purchase decision.

A computer’s hard drive can hold all sorts of information that the user might consider private, personal and proprietary. Trying to remove a file from the drive by means of the delete function doesn’t really make it disappear — the process merely flips one data bit so the file won’t show up on the monitor. The file is still there and the undelete function can retrieve it. If you’re dumping a computer, it would be prudent to scrub the drive to render it pristine for the next owner. Seagate Technology LLC, the company that knows a little bit about hard drives, offers you “Drive Disposal Best Practices,” a white paper that shows the proper way to sanitize your unit. Go to and click on the link to the white papers under the download option. Move the scroll bar to the bottom of the results that are returned to read the facts.

Used marketplace

During the past dozen years, we’ve brought to your attention more than 1,000 noncommercial Web sites that have some rational relationship to the practice of industrial maintenance. But, it’s hard to focus on used equipment without violating our stricture against highlighting commercial Web content. Accept our apologies this month and, with that said, let’s forge ahead. Surplus Record Machinery and Equipment Directory, based in Chicago, deals in used equipment that can fit into one of two broad categories: machinery and equipment on one hand and electric and power on the other. The former covers production equipment, including mills, drills, gear shapers, grinders, lathes, presses, punches, saws, shears and tappers of all sorts. The latter listing includes circuit breakers, drives, generators, motors and transformers. Get your hands on the goods by stopping off at, where you can search by state, company name or equipment specialty.

Let’s assume for the moment that your interest lies not in production equipment, but in test gear the maintenance department relies on for its most excellent predictive maintenance program. In that case, you could do worse than to know about Test Equipment Connection Corp., based in Lake Mary, Fla. The company offers reconditioned test equipment through an intuitive, link-rich Web site. Pay a visit at if you’re in the market for meters, power supplies, oscilloscopes, signal generators, spectrum analyzers, frequency counters, plotters and data loggers, network analyzers, audio analyzers and quite a bit more.

Prudent maintenance professionals rely on test equipment and instrumentation to verify machinery condition before launching a full-blown repair project. Whether you buy new or used testers, calibration and accuracy are two of the most important variables that affect your test results. An article posted on the Web addresses this matter. It’s brought to you by the Interaction Media Group, Boston, on its, which bills itself as “the world’s leading source of credible, unbiased, carefully selected buying guides.” This initiative was launched in 2006 and grew from 500 to more than 12,000 buying guides in only 18 months. If you steer your way to, you can enter the phrase “testing equipment” in the search box and click the “Go” button. The guide you want is titled “Fundamentals of Testing Equipment.” It mainly describes the types of test hardware, but there are several paragraphs near the end that offer advice for choosing and buying your testers. Pay particular attention to the comments about buying used test equipment.

After you bought it

What happens after you buy that great piece of used equipment that’s absolutely perfect for your needs and budget constraints? If the item in question is small, there are dozens of ways to get it from there to your plant. What if we’re talking about something that’s bigger and heavier than your pickup truck? You might be curious about the best way to move heavy equipment from the flatbed truck idling at the loading dock to the selected location on your plant floor. One community-based Web site tackles this question. The resulting give-and-take in response to that query is posted at, the site operated by Woodweb Inc., Montrose, Pa. Instead of searching on the whole site, select the knowledge base option from the drop-down menu and enter the phrase “moving and unloading” in the search box on the right. Don’t forget to use the quote marks.

Without comment

E-mail Executive Editor Russ Kratowicz, P.E., CMRP, at [email protected].

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