Top Tips for Purchasing Test and Measurement Equipment

When obtaining Test and Measurement Equipment there are many factors involved in the decision making process. Below are some considerations to assist you in making a favorable buying decision.
The categories for purchasing T&M equipment can be considered as follows: New, Used and Refurbished.

  • New equipment requires minimal functional consideration other than “is it suitable for the application?” New equipment is obviously the highest priced choice and in some cases may have long delivery or lead times.
  • Used equipment typically is sold “as is” and un-tested with little or no warranty or right of return. Although the low price can be very appealing the actual product condition will vary.
  • Refurbished equipment usually has been cleaned and tested, with non-functioning parts replaced and has a warranty, right of return, operator manual and basic (standard) accessories. The price may be just slightly higher than the same used piece of equipment.

Therefore the focus of this article is on refurbished equipment.

Typically a savings of 30 to 80 percent from new list price is not unusual, including a quicker than new delivery time.

  • Consider Your Vendor:
    • How long have they been in business?
    • Are they a ‘brick and mortar’ business or a small Internet entity?
    • Are they easily accessible by phone or email?
    • What is their response time?
  • Consider Competitive Quotes:
    • How do the right of return and warranties compare?
    • Are you comparing similar pieces of equipment?
    • Did all quotes come back in a timely manner?
  • Consider Your Purchasing Options:
    • Straight purchase?
    • Rental for short-term use?
    • Lease to extend your budget?
    • Trade-in under utilized equipment to defray costs?
  • Consider Make, Model, Configuration:
    • What make and model do you require?
    • What options do you really need for your application?
    • What options are on the unit being offered?
  • Consider Accessories and Manuals:
    • What accessories come with the unit?
    • Operator manual included?
  • Consider Warranty:
    • What is the length of the warranty?
    • Where is the equipment serviced?
    • What is the warranty process?
    • Is an extended warranty available?
  • Consider Right of Return:
    • Is there a right of return?
    • How long is the return period?
    • When does it start?
    • What is the return process?
  • Consider Calibration or Quality Standards:
    • If you require calibration, what type of calibration is required?
    • Can they provide it?
    • If calibration is not a requirement is there a certificate of compliance?
    • What if any are the costs associated with the above?
  • Consider Packing and Shipping Methods:
    • How is the equipment packed for shipment?
    • Do you need to insure the shipment?
    • Is there a considerable savings between overnight, second or third day shipping?

According to Frost & Sullivan, the estimated size of the North American used test and measurement equipment market was $446 million in 2004 and is estimated to grow to $654 million by 2011.

Buying refurbished test equipment has moved into the mainstream as compared to 15 years ago. Refurbished first is now a primary acquisition strategy for companies of all sizes — from the world’s largest commercial and defense contractors, to mid size commercial electronics and RF companies, and vertically down to smaller, entrepreneurial wireless R&D companies and subcontractors.

The current economic climate as of the date of this article actually favors buyer and budget awareness for refurbished equipment – especially high dollar test equipment such as spectrum analyzers.

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Mike is a finance industry executive with expertise in test, IT and avionics equipment acquisition, resale, residual valuation, leasing, renting and consignment.
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