Top 10 Things to Consider Before Buying Construction Equipment

April 13, 2018

If you’re in the market for new construction equipment, you’re probably feeling a tad overwhelmed. There are countless things to consider when making a purchasing decision and a large amount of money on the table. Some of the criteria are obvious: price, brand preference, interest rates are all top of mind, but there are some less obvious features that could cost you BIG down the road. This article will help to outline the top 10 things to consider before making your next purchase.

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Case CX350D courtesy of Casece.com: Calculate your Total Cost of Ownership utilizing Case’s free webtool

1. Safety Features

Safety first! The industry has come a long way on its safety journey, and some manufacturers are beginning to offer many safety features as standard equipment. Important features to look for include handrails on larger equipment, metal grip treading on steps or platforms (vs. tape), good visibility out of the cab via windows or cameras (360-view cameras now available from some manufacturers), and ground level serviceability. Most injuries occur climbing on and off the equipment through slips, trips, and falls, so the fewer trips up and down, the better. Everyone on a jobsite needs to go home in the same condition they arrived to work, so don’t skimp on the safety features.

2. Application

In order to maximize the effectiveness of your purchase, the machine needs to fit your job and fleet. Machines tend to grow from previous generations as performance increases and the number of features grow, so the new model may be too big for your needs. Comparing specs and understanding how much material you need to move and right-sizing the equipment accordingly will help to prevent buying a machine that doesn't fit the job. If truck-loading, ideally you want between 3-6 passes but cycle times also need to be considered so you don’t underutilize your loader or trucks. Finally, if your machine is going to be performing several different jobs, you’ll want to ensure it is configured properly. Does it have the right hydraulics to run your attachments or something you may need to run in the future? Have you considered a coupler to quickly change between work tools? Can this machine run your current work tools? There are countless ways to configure new equipment these days and an endless number of 3rd party suppliers with niche attachments. Careful planning of your config can save you downtime, money, and costly retrofit costs down the line.

3. Dealer Network

Let’s face it, whether you go top of the line equipment or for a brand you just found out how to pronounce, your machine is going to break down at some point. Much of the difference between a good experience and a poor one is how quickly you can get back up and running. Having a local dealer with parts on hand and quick response times will save you big money on travel time and mileage as well as downtime on the jobsite.

4. Service & Maintenance

Other service and maintenance considerations at point of sale include extended warranties and customer support agreements. Both are much cheaper to add when the machine is purchased than later down the road and can be extremely valuable depending on your service capabilities. We recommend extended warranty for all new purchases in the event of a major failure outside of the warranty window since they are relatively inexpensive (typically 1-2% of machine’s cost for 3-5 years of coverage). Customer service agreements can also be a good option if you want the dealer to handle all preventative maintenance and/or repairs on the equipment.

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Cat 320GC courtesy of Cat.com: A new standard for fuel efficiency

5. Fuel

Fuel has not been a hot button for several years since the collapse in fuel prices; however, fuel is still a considerable cost for equipment owners making up about 30% of total operating costs. Newer machines have been able to significantly reduce fuel consumption with new technologies, including adaptive power modes and hybrid power sources, allowing machines to provide the same power with smaller engines. These technologies can cost you up front but pay off in the long run. For example, Caterpillar’s new 320GC boasts improved fuel consumption numbers below 5 gallons per hour compared to many competitors in the 7 gph range. Over a 6000 hour operating period with $2.50 diesel, the 320GC will save approximately $30,000 in fuel costs.

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Komatsu Dozer with Trimble 3D GPS System courtesy of Construction.Trimble.com: Technology also offered for aftermarket fit via suppliers like Trimble.

6. Technology

Everyone is at a different point in their technology journey, but few would still be in business without some sort of tech adoption at this point. Whether your job requires a telematics, laser catcher, 2D grade system, payload scales, remote control, or full blown 3D system with semi-automation, manufacturers are racing to load up their machines with a menu of options to meet customer needs. The newest machines are packed with sensors and computers that can replace grade checkers, avoid overcutting, and prevent fines for overloading trucks. At the minimum, technology can help your novice operators become proficient faster and your skilled operators even more productive.

7. Own vs. Rent

Buying equipment may not be the best decision for your business at the time. If you buy or lease this equipment for several years, do you have enough work to keep it utilized? Construction and mining is a cyclical business, so the future has a certain level of uncertainty. Used equipment or a rental option may be the best option if cash flow is tight or your next job is up in the air. Many dealers with rental fleets will also offer a rental purchase option (RPO), where you’ll have the option to purchase the machine and a portion of your rental rate will be applied to the machine’s principal.

8. Financing

With interest rates still at historic lows, financing is an attractive option for heavy equipment buyers. Many manufacturers have captive financial companies who speed up the process and provide a one-stop-shop experience. Manufacturers will often run special financing deals with low or 0% financing offers and can provide flexible payment options, leases, loans and lines of credit.

9. Resale Value

When purchasing a new piece of equipment, few are already thinking about getting rid of it, but that can be a mistake. Certain brands and specific models will hold their value particularly well and can justify higher transaction prices. There are many tools and sites you can check to get an idea of resale values. MachineryTrader.com is a respected source with a large population.

10. Price

Price is often the first thing discussed and the deciding factor when making a purchase decision, but as you can see here, it comes in last on our list. This may differ from buyer to buyer depending on usage of the equipment; however, during the entire life of the equipment, the initial purchase price is relatively insignificant. A small improvement in production or fuel savings can pay for a significant price premium multiple times over through the life of the machine, not to mention the gap is often covered in resale values. Like most purchasing situations, there is balance between cost and quality. You get what you pay for, and going the bargain route could cost you in the long run.

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Deere 325G courtesy of Deere.com: G-series models are designed for low operating costs, high productivity, and maximum uptime.

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog! If you have any more questions or would like to speak with one of our equipment experts, please contact us at support@quipquotes.com. If you’re interested in any of the features or equipment discussed here, don’t hesitate to get a quote today at QuipQuotes.com!

Nick Arthur
Founder
QuipQuotes