Expert Topic Questioning the Pros and Cons of New vs. Used Equipment

Take a scroll through social media these days, or browse the forums on this site, or simply open your email and you’re likely to come across previously used brewing equipment for sale or that is going up for auction. For the breweries where expansion or adding extra capacity is in the cards, there is a lot of choice and a lot to consider. What are some of the things you should consider when making the decision on purchasing something new versus previously owned? Here are some questions that can help you make the decision.

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Will the equipment fit?
We’ll assume you know the square footage of your brewery, and the available space on the brewing floor. But it’s handy to have the dimensions of any new to you equipment that will come through the doors (or roof) and if it will fit in your existing space. Also, make sure you’ve mapped out how the equipment will enter the building and get to its desired location. Is there enough room to get it around any existing equipment without too much hassle?

Do you have the infrastructure for the equipment?
Will this be a plug and play situation where you can just drop the equipment in place and
get it running quickly? Is it compatible with your existing equipment? The need to update electrical or plumbing adds to a budget and may mean picking the less expensive of the two options.

Is modernization needed?
For previously owned equipment, will you need to outfit it for today’s brewing needs? Taking into consideration modernization or upgrades in advance can help with determining long-term price and timing.

Is the manufacturer trusted?
There are a lot of companies selling equipment to the beer industry. Some are better made than others. Do research on the manufacturer and its reliability. Read the forums and ask peers for advice or experiences with the manufacturer. Will a manufacturer still offer support after a secondary sale, or how quickly can train techs be scheduled for an appointment if needed. Equipment that needs a deft touch or constant upkeep or repairs might not be good for the long run.

Is the equipment and its materials up to task of brewing?
For tanks and brewing equipment, make sure you know what material its made from. Not all stainless steel is equal, so knowing the grade and the uniformity of construction of all parts, as well as the welds should be carefully expected in advance of purchase.

Can you test the equipment in advance?
With new equipment there are often demonstration sessions you can attend at either the manufacturer or through existing companies. With auction or previously owned equipment this might be difficult. Putting a piece of equipment through the paces can help with figuring out ease of use or the ability to spot existing or emerging issues.

Consider replacement parts
Are replacement parts available for previously used equipment? Making sure you will have access to any parts that might need to be replaced upon purchase or down the road is important. Having to specially fabricate replacement parts or being unable to use equipment due to out-of-stock parts can cause costly delays.

Think about shipping
What is the price to properly pack and ship previously used equipment? How does it compare to new equipment? What will shipping insurance cost and how can potential delays or damage impact your construction or brewing schedule?

When it comes to previously owned tanks, there is a handy checklist on ProBrewer that you can use while considering your next purchase.

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