Case Study – How To Purchase the Correct Machine


“It’s easy to be wise after the event” – Arthur Conan Doyle. When we make significant choices we apply our knowledge, expertise and importantly the experience we have developed over time. Can you recall when you realised that you had just learned an important lesson?

Here we discuss lessons learned and the opportunities to bring performance metrics into selection criteria. This will assist when selecting the correct machine and automation strategy to do the job needed for its expected life. We consider this the Total Cost Of Ownership.

When a machine tool has a lower investment price and is commissioned with a few key options left off the machine. The price is lowered and can become attractive to price-sensitive buyers. The cost of ownership can then become higher when additional skilled labour is required to meet the specification of the project the machine could have ultimately automated. If the machine cost is lower, will this impact & increase the total cost of the part or process the machine was intended to address? The vested interest that we all have to collaborate sincerely and achieve success when the circumstances allow can only happen if we are properly informed.

These are a generic set of rules that you can elect to apply to all machines, their manufacturers and suppliers to ensure that they are delivering value to your business and your customers. Please make notes for us to discuss your thoughts and ideas.


  • Evidence: Review evidence-based metrics from the machine tool builder that identify capability to increase capacity, schedule or quality improvements plus measuring man-hours that can be re-tasked
  • Efficiency: Require time studies from the machine tool builder relevant to every part of the processing time and providing individual evaluation.
  • Mutual assurance: The machine tool builder will often request a letter of credit for security, it is reasonable for the buyer to request a bank guarantee to secure their deposit
  • Integrity: Eliminate the risk and related consequences of the machine tool builder selling your machine to another buyer that required a faster delivery to secure the order. This is not unusual once a letter of credit has been established and a deposit has been received?
  • Reliability: Consider the consequences to the machine tool builder if a function or capability was offered with the machine that doesn’t end up working? What protection does your workshop have from the machine tool builder once a letter of credit has been established to secure payment for the balance of the machine?
  • Transparency: Are there extended payment terms based on a letter of credit 365 days after bill of lading date and at what interest rate?
  • Support: Is freight, software, commissioning and training included with the purchase of the machine? What are the hidden costs after a contract has been signed and deposit paid?


  • Continuity: Has consideration been given to reliable power supply and mitigation of damage to the machine through inconsistent power supply?
  • Serviceability: Has your business specified an air conditioner to the electrical cabinet to ensure the electrical switchgear lifecycle is maximised. For every 10 degrees in temperature increase, the electrical cabinet experiences expect a budget of 10 years life reduced from the electrical components inside the cabinet
  • Interruption: To avoid mice making a warm home and eating electrical wiring has your workshop specified an ultrasonic mouse device inside the electrical cabinet??
  • Interfacing: Has the machine tool builder referenced or labelled every wire, motor, drive and solenoid to the machine and the electrical cabinet to ensure remote diagnostics is efficient and effective?


  • Streamlined: Arrange a screen-shared software demonstration with the machine tool builders application engineer to measure and identify any limitations with the machine or automation strategy to meet your outcome requirements
  • Backwards compatibility: What is the price for software upgrades or will the machine tool builder include in the contract that software upgrades will be included free of charge for the lifetime of the machine?
  • Interoperability: The commonality between machines in software packages such as Lantek, Tekla or StruMIS presents opportunities and pitfalls for performance and capabilities. Have these been considered? There are risks and rewards to how compatible the machines work with complimentary software These software companies will have inside knowledge of how all machines are performing in most workshops and if there are limitations from a capability or service from shared customers from within the industry. Have you spoken to these network references who your business may end up working with for the machine you are considering?
  • Inclusions: Is software included with the machine or will this be priced after a contract is signed?
  • Integrated or generic? Is the software designed from the machine tool builder or a generic software that can run the program all machines?


  • Mean Time Between Failure: Has data been provided on critical components and their durability? Understanding the tested performance of your machine before it goes into service can significantly affect how you drive it.
  • Future costs: A price list for ‘nice to have’ and ‘must have’ spare parts and consumables be presented prior to ordering any machine. This avoids the manufacture or agent charging inflated prices for spare parts and consumables after a contract is signed.
  • Inventory: Is your company intending to invest in spare parts to be delivered with the machine. This avoids any duty with the spare parts when the ordered with the machine.
    • SMS advice is to allow for 1% of the cost of the machine to stock spare parts with your machine for the lifetime of the machine to avoid any disappointment for the seller suggesting they only sod that spare part yesterday.
  • Availability: Have you considered the implications of downtime if your workshop doesn’t take the responsibility of stocking key components?
  • Immediate: Can the spare parts be ordered from the country that the machine is operating in? Or is the buyer forced to return to the machine tool builder or agent to purchase spare parts for the lifetime of the machine?
  • Forecast: the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) is central to the fiscal value of any capital purchase. Clarity of understanding, awareness and costs to access spare parts and related services is crucial; has this been broadly disclosed prior to confirming your purchase?
  • Teamwork: Will the local agencies provide service on the buyer's machine if the buyer purchases spare or consumables from an alternative provider?
  • Consideration: What is the restocking fee for any spare parts after the machine tool agent suggested XYZ part was required and it turns out the part was not required to fix the issue?
  • Timely: What level of spare parts are held in stock from the machine tool builder or agent?
  • Priorities: Are you aware that several agents require any stock item is required to be sold XYZ/month or quarter for the spare to warranted to be stocked. This is the value of stocking parts in your own workshop to avoid the disappointment of machine downtime for critical machinery to run your workshop

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Contact Specialist Machinery Sales today to discuss a superior machinery strategy for your business.

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