New or used: Is it worth buying second-hand Kardex storage units?

New or used: Is it worth buying second-hand Kardex storage units?

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What are the pros and cons of buying a used machine? Why not simply buy the necessary storage shuttle second-hand?



However attractive it may be to invest in a used machine, paternoster (vertical) or carousel storage system, there are very good reasons for purchasing a new unit.

There is no doubt that Kardex units used for the efficient management of intralogistics processes are perfect for coping with the permanent workload and demands resulting from continuous operation. The robust construction of the vertical storage lift system or Vertical carousel storage systemsis designed to ensure they last a long time, which, along with their efficiency in the area of process handling, makes them a highly south-after modular solution by a growing number of companies.

However, it is precisely this reliability that makes them just as interesting for the used machine market. After all, the units can be dismantled relatively quickly and reassembled in a new location. The software that controls them is also designed so that it can be easily integrated in to existing warehouse management systems.

Buy used machines at more reasonable prices

So what are the pros and cons of buying a used machine? Why not simply buy the necessary storage shuttle second-hand?  However attractive it may be to invest in a used machine, paternoster (vertical) or carousel storage system, there are very good reasons for purchasing a new unit.

  • Firstly, the difference in price is not as big as some customers might expect. The main reason for this is the low depreciation of storage systems which are built to last. Since wear is kept within limits when used correctly and spare parts can easily be obtained for most components, the units retain their value. Users of old machines therefore calculate precisely whether it is worth purchasing a new one.  If there are no major changes to the internal logistics processes and the product range and sales structure both remain the same, there are few good reasons to replace the units on a regular basis as perhaps would be the case with a vehicle fleet. As such, the market for used units is somewhat limited, which in turn keeps the price levels higher.
  • Kardex storage systems generally have a modular design so that they can be precisely tailored to meet the buyer’s technical needs. This may be in relation to the dimensions  of the warehouse to which they system is adapted, or it may take the form of additional software packages and settings fitted to the unit, for instance to handle electronic components. The buyer of a new system can tailor every detail of the required solution to suit their needs. It therefore follows that the buyer of a used unit has to lower their sights in relation to the usefulness of the system and ultimately the company’s productivity if it does not exactly meet their own specifications – which only ought to apply in a very small number of cases.
  • Dynamic storage systems are also not spared from the unstoppable march of technical progress. In terms of productivity, the long lifetime of the entire system must therefore be compared to the new product. After all, what may have once been perfectly optimised could be in need of technical improvements just a few years later if not overhauled. The rapid growth in software-assisted control systems, made possible by ever faster processors, produces units which work ever more precisely and efficiently. But the design of the units is also changing, because materials that are highly robust, yet comparatively much lighter and more durable can increasingly be used, which has a positive effect on wear. New units therefore always have an advantage over older models in terms of productivity, which speaks in favour of buying a new system which a cost-benefit analysis on the acquisition of storage units is performed.
  • However well the used models have been made and maintained, they are nonetheless more prone to signs of wear and tear. The associated higher costs for more frequent service intervals and the purchase of spare parts also have a negative effect on the overall cost of used systems.
  • When a new machine is purchased, it is installed precisely in its location and the entire process is overseen by the manufacture’s specialist team. They make sure that the unit fits perfectly in its new environment and everything runs smoothly. This is not the case with older models.
  • Before a new system is purchased, a detailed analysis is performed to ensure that the internal ERP system on the customer’s side harmonises optimally with the software installed on the new storage unit. After all, the new unit will only work really effectively if the control system can be easily integrated into the customer’s warehouse management software.
  • The purchase of a new system is based on a trusting working relationship between the buyer and the manufacturer. This partnership pays off for the buyer, even if no problems arise while purchasing the new system. Besides having named contact persons to answer any questions relating to the units or the software installed in them, subsequently servicing and training are also among the additional services provided by the manufacturer in contrast to an intermediate dealer.
  • Furthermore, there is the intermediate dealer’s not inconsiderable price mark-up, which is not only attributable to costs for transporting and inspecting the used units, but also their profit mark-up. This all adds up to a higher price which significantly detracts from the savings associated with the more reasonable priced investment. In comparison, the difference in the purchase price of a new storage system no longer looks as big as expected.
  • The purchase price can be spread over a long period with monthly instalments. In addition, manufacturers frequently offer leasing solutions, which help to radically reduce the initial investment costs, particularly attractive to start up ecommerce companies. It is a more cost –effective solution for those who balk at the high start-up costs associated with purchasing a new system. Leasing arrangement of this kind generally cannot be found with intermediate dealers.

In conclusion, it should be said that it is always advisable to directly contact the intralogistics company that supplies the preferred units before buying in order to establish the terms of a new purchase. The comparison has shown that this is often the more efficient solution in the medium and long term. It is often only after a prospective buyer has spoken to experts that they become aware of the acceleration in processes and increase in productivity that can be achieved by using dynamic storage and retrieval systems. And taking everything into consideration, it is precisely such systems which appear to be better value when purchased new. It is little wonder when the ROI can generally be achieved within 12-24 months.