Five Questions to Ask Before Buying Packaging Equipment

If you have learned one thing in the packaging business thus far in your career it is probably that you can’t always go off of price.  There are a lot of decisions that go into why one product works over the other and that innovative advances can’t always be seen by looking at the product.  We understand this and know the same is true for purchasing equipment.  So, how do you make your decision after you have compared basic features and prices?  Here are five questions to ask your supplier that shouldn’t be overlooked during the decision process:

How safe is this machine?

Equipment manufacturers have safety ratings and they are important to pay attention to.  Has the manufacturer faced any lawsuits in regards to their machinery?  It is your right to know how safe a piece of equipment is that is going into your building, and many manufacturers can provide white papers on safety tests.

What is the maintenance like on this machine?

Machines break – they do, they are machines.  If anyone is telling you they don’t then it is time to walk away.  Wear and tear is just another part of the process, but not all manufacturers are created equal when it comes to spare parts availability and cost.  Similarly, not all warranties cover what you need covered.  Can your supplier provide maintenance or do you need to pay for hotel stays on top of a service call?  Your equipment is a big investment, and we want to make sure you are getting good use out of it for the life of the machine.  We guarantee the brands we represent and are confident they are the best options in the market.  Plus, we can service what we sell.  Our brands are built to last with regular care and maintenance – can the same be said for the brand you are considering?

What’s involved with training in regards to this machine?

Does your machine have easy-to-follow features or does it provide an option to “lock out” unwanted tinkering operators?  How easy is it to train someone on the machine and how easy is it to make adjustments?  Don’t under-estimate company morale when it comes to ease of use and frustration-free (or, limited frustration) equipment operation.

Are any other customers using this machine and how long have they had it?

If no other customers are using it or if they used it for only a short while then your next question should be, “Why?”  It could be that you have a very particular and rare application, or it could be that the piece of machinery you are looking at isn’t the best option.  Your supplier usually can’t name names but they should be able to tell you other applications they have dealt with that have used the piece of machinery you are considering.

Lastly, are there any hidden fees regarding installation, training, maintenance, or product use?

Don’t get stuck in a situation where the upfront costs seemed fantastic and then once the purchase is made other costs start seeping into other project budgets.  As technology changes it isn’t uncommon for more equipment manufacturers to install RFID readers to only accept certain products for instance.  Or, you don’t want to get stuck paying an exorbitant service bill because your supplier doesn’t have their own service technicians.  Ask your supplier what your options are in these areas to guarantee you are making the best decision short-term and long-term.

Do you think these questions would be helpful during your equipment buying decisions?  What other issues have you come across that changed your decision before purchase or you wish you would have known before you signed the dotted line?  Tell us in the comments below.

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