TOP TIPS FOR BUYING USED AUTOMATION PARTS

It's not unusual to buy used items in our personal lives, used cars, used furniture, antiques etc., and no different in business. Sometimess buying a used automation part is a choice based on budget, but sometimes it's because a part is obsolete and it's the only option. Whatever your reasons for buying used/pre-owned AC/DC drives, PLCs and modules, HMIs and other automation parts, there are ways you can protect yourself. See our tips below on how to alleviate risks when buying used or pre-owned parts. 

Does it come with a warranty?
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Buying a part with a reasonable warranty protects you from receiving parts that are dead on arrival or fail a short time after installation. It's not unusual to see sellers offering a warranty as little as 15 days or even just that it won't be dead on arrival. Purchasing spare parts from a seller or business that has a warranty of at least six month but ideally 12 months or longer shows that the seller is confident in the part they are selling you. It also gives you peace of mind that should something go wrong you know you can trust that you will get a replacement, repair or refund. 

Most reputable companies provide a warranty on their used parts, this can range from three months to up to 12 months. At Northern Industrial, we provide a full 12 month warranty on every used part we sell or repair.

Has the item been refurbished?

Used is not the same as refurbished and it is important to understand the difference. A part that hasn’t been refurbished/reconditioned can be a gamble. A used part will still have old components fitted inside and therefore could have been in use for 10 years or more. Some components, such as capacitors, can have a lifespan of seven years (or less in harsher environments) and will develop faults after this time. This can lead to used parts developing intermittent faults or failing shortly after the warranty period has expired sending you back to square one.

Although slightly more expensive, a reconditioned part should ensure the part lasts a lot longer than the warranty period and reduces the chance of the part being dead on arrival. All the parts we sell from stock receive a full preventive maintenance service. This means we replace serviceable components such as fans, capacitors and relays to ensure the maximum lifespan of our parts.

Check the item has been refurbished by professionals

We would always recommend buying used parts from a company that has its own repair department and has an established history. Professional automation suppliers should refurbish used equipment to a high standard and only use genuine high-quality components. Their engineers will also be trained, electronics professionals.

Be wary of buying parts “sold as seen”

They might seem attractive when comparing prices, but often these items are non-returnable and not guaranteed to work. Look at how much downtime is costing. Is it really worth the risk? 

Can you return the item?

Reputable sellers and businesses will have a clear and understandable returns policy where you know where you stand and what the procedure is for returning an item. If you can't return it, it's worth asking if you can take the risk of losing your money and having to buy the part again from somewhere else should the worst happen.

Don’t be blinded by a low price

It’s easy to get carried away when you see a price much, much lower than expected but sometimes this can be so much lower for a reason. Perhaps it's for the reasons discussed above where it's a sold as seen item or not offering any warranty. Trust your instinct and read the terms of the sale to make sure you don’t get ripped off.

Beware of hidden extras

A cheap part can quickly become expensive when you add super high shipping and handling costs. Make sure you understand exactly what the price includes before committing to buying the part. Sometimes there will be a surcharge from some companies to get a part despatched quicker than usual, also known as a rush fee. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for extra information!

A good seller or reputable business will be more than happy to answer any questions in order for you to make the right decision. Whether you require datasheets, manuals or even just something as simple as a picture of the used part before you buy.

Always research the seller

Today it is easy to hide behind a nice website. If you’re experiencing downtime and are putting your trust in a new seller you haven’t used before, a quick Google search could save you a lot of hassle down the line. Check where they are based. Does it look like an industrial unit full of stock and engineers? Are they an established company? Do they have their own technical department? Do they have their own stock?

That concludes our top tips, which have hopefully removed some of the uncertainty that occurs when buying used automation parts. We're always happy to answer any questions or offer technical advice both pre and post sales and have a team of around 40 engineers on hand to help with any automation problems. Get in touch with us today.