It is no trade secret that sheetfed-offset printing press manufacturers continue to shore up their service offerings and focus less on new equipment sales. I blogged last year about how OEMs such as Heidelberg, Komori, KBA, and manroland face the sullen fact that not very many commercial printers’ budgets can withstand brand-spanking-new hardware investments. A quadrant of PrintCity Alliance’s exhibit at the mega drupa show, this month in Germany, is devoted to the hot topic of press tune-ups. But the need for faster speeds, higher productivity, and better print quality cannot always be achieved cost-effectively with existing equipment, no matter how well it is maintained or how creatively it is tweaked.
Whether to bolster capacity, add new revenue streams, or competitively differentiate with hard-to-find configurations, there are printers looking to add equipment. You may be one of them. And you might be shopping second-hand at an industrial version of resale or “consignment shops,” as the Canadians call them. About a year or so ago, I talked my then 11-year-old son into the practicality of purchasing a refurbished video game system. The idea made sense to him, so he gathered a bunch of old games to trade in (while Dad came up with the rest of the cash, chalking up the experience as a valuable lesson in fiscal responsibility).
Used printing equipment still is a white-hot commodity. So, if a 29-inch, 4-over-4 perfector with coater fits the bill, HowardDirect (formerly Howard Graphic Equipment) had a Lithrone LS press, circa 2007, immediately available at QP’s press time. The 45-year-old firm employs technicians in its rebuilding facility in Ontario, Canada, where this Komori model features a PQC/KMS press management station and automatic press washers. With just 27 million impressions, it’s akin to buying a used car with only 10,000 or 20,000 miles on it. The life span of a sheetfed press can run anywhere between 150 million and 600 million impressions, explains printing industry consultant Ray Prince, the former operations management VP at NAPL who has had his finger on the pulse of offset presses since the early 1960s. If you are in the market for a 40-inch press, HowardDirect has an eight-color manroland 708+TLV with tower coater, but this 18-year-old model has a lot more miles: more than 140 million impressions.
Online auctioneers such as pressXchange.com and Thomas Industries hawk iron on their websites. For the European market, Indonesian reseller Chabelita quotes a 2005 vintage 20-inch Ryobi two-color press with 14.5 million impressions at the equivalent of $58,815 (€45,000), excluding shipping. For a 25-year-old, five-color, 26-inch Heidelberg MOFP-S with 52 million impressions, you’re looking at a $116,300 investment. With no end in sight to the press over-capacity plaguing the printing industry, examples like this abound on the Internet.
The Pre-owned Attraction
The days of “easy credit” are long gone, and many smaller print shops continue to fail and fall. Of those left standing, it seems everybody is looking for deals and steals. One anonymous printer admits to purchasing “an AB Dick on eBay, cheap.” Prince says there is some good equipment to be had on the auction market, no doubt, such as repossessed presses. But, as he cautioned Printing News readers in late 2009 (“Maintaining Equipment (or Not) During Lean Times,” www.myprintresource.com/10265064), there is bad equipment out there, too. People see a low price and think they’re getting a good deal on a nine-year-old piece of technology, for example. “But if the previous owner was struggling, the press may not have been maintained for the past three years,” says Prince. “That represents a lot of wear and tear.”
Pre-owned presses need to be maintained as well. Older presses can benefit from the right service and products to ensure they continue to deliver maximum productivity. To help breathe new life into these presses, Heidelberg Systemservice offers a discount to customers with presses built in 2000 or earlier—if they book service five business day or seven calendar days ahead of time.