When business is slow, it's hard to think much beyond your immediate equipment needs. Yet, there are risks in doing so - you may be missing opportunities to cut owning and operating costs, reduce labor requirements and/or replace older units with newer, more productive models.
Manufacturers always strive to outdo themselves with each successive generation of machine they introduce. This should become especially evident as models equipped with Tier IV Interim emissions technology are launched onto the market. Rarely do manufacturers make substantial engine changes without making further enhancements to the base machine, as well. For example, with Tier III engines came improvements in systems integration and overall machine controllability, thanks to the advent of electronic engine technology.
Already, we're seeing models with Tier IV Interim technology delivering improvements in engine speed and torque, reductions in fuel consumption in some cases and other benefits that go beyond emissions control. Such benefits promise to cut the cost of equipment operation, which in turn should drop more dollars to your bottom line. As we move closer to Tier IV Final, we're likely to see even more improvements intended to optimize performance and reduce equipment operating costs, and otherwise serve to offset the cost associated with the new technology.
If you're simply not ready to consider jumping into a new machine, there is always the used equipment option. The downturn in the construction market has produced a glut of used heavy iron. The demand for such equipment is starting to rebound, but bargains remain. If your balance sheet allows, a quality, low-hour used machine could be a sound investment for the future.
Fortunately, the options for finding used equipment are much more prevalent than they once were. In addition to your local equipment dealer or traditional auction services, there are dealer websites, online auction sites and dedicated used equipment sites (e.g., www.equipmentconnector.com) to help match you to the right machine at the right price.
Another highly effective option for upgrading equipment is rental. Although rental fleets aren't quite as "young" as they once were - rental companies are holding off on equipment purchases, as well - the equipment offered may still be more productive and/or cost efficient to operate than those you currently have on hand.
Rental not only cuts out the up-front capital investment required to purchase, it eliminates the maintenance, insurance and storage expense associated with ownership. It can also enable you to address local emissions or noise restrictions that might otherwise require expensive retrofits to owned units.
In a nutshell, it's important not to close your mind to the idea of replacing outdated, worn or under-performing equipment. Evaluate what your current units are costing you in terms of performance, downtime, operating costs, etc. Then assess whether you may be able to save money by purchasing or renting a new, or newer, model. You may be surprised at the results.