Purchasing Equipment – A Focus on the Equipment Operator


When a company purchases used or new heavy equipment, it is typically the CFO or equipment manager that checks the equipment out and makes the purchasing decision. However neither the CFO or equipment manager will be the one using the machine.

Because the performance of a newly purchased piece of heavy equipment relies primarily on the machine’s operator, it’s never a bad idea to take an operator along when evaluating and test driving equipment.

Doing so will allow the operator to analyze the equipment’s visibility – when using scoops or digging arms – and play around with the equipment’s controls. Often equipment controls can be overly sensitive for an individual operator, which will decrease the performance of the equipment and the operator’s efficiency.

Seeing the equipment in person will also allow the operator to check out the various comfort features, such as an enclosed cab or lumbar support, and most importantly test drive the machine.

Following the test drive the operator will provide a company’s equipment manager with an opinion and valuable feedback that would otherwise not be received. The operator may bring up equipment specification questions that might not have been considered including: will this piece of equipment fit on our hauling trailers or will it weigh too much for our trailers?

In the end a hands on, in-person approach to purchasing equipment- that includes involvement of the operator – can assure a company that a newly bought piece of equipment will perform efficiently once on site.

A machine that has suffered an engine or drive line failure too expensive to repair will be at the auction. Also possibly in the dead row or bandaided together to last long enough to get through the auction. Some machines come from highly abrasive or corrosive chemical plants that will run around the clock, these machines will usually have fresh paint jobs and new hour meters, you have to look closely at to see what has been covered up.

Stolen and recovered machinery will show up at the auction, these machines may have missing serial number plates or painted odd colors in order to throw off the police. A person has to wonder how well a stolen machine was maintained. Ever see a Caterpillar painted John Deere Yellow with John Deere decals, it may have been stolen.

These are just a few reasons that machines may be in the auction in less than good condition.. Remember, don’t start a machine at the auction unless you know where the throttle is and how to turn it off. More than once I have started a machine at the auction only to find that the throttle was left in the wide open position. I have written a whole series about what I check on machines, all of these checks can be applied to buying a machine at the auction.