Used, not confused

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Demand for chocolate and cocoa processing as well as high-speed packaging solutions see more manufacturers turn to refurbished equipment

Demand for used equipment is soaring but manufacturers considering this option should be aware of implications such as availability, health and safety regulations and global exchange rates. The benefits, however, outweigh the challenges, explain three of the key suppliers.

Union Confectionery Machinery has seen customers ask for chocolate machinery and high speed wrapping equipment to offset the cost of low margins and high labour costs, notes Jim Greenberg, co-president of the company.

“Our biggest sellers are various chocolate processing equipment ranging from large capacity cocoa processing to artisanal bean-to-bar machinery. The larger the item, the greater potential for savings. Big ticket items such as chocolate moulding plants, starch mogul lines and enrobing equipments, which are very expensive when new, can be acquired at less that 50 per cent of new. For the UK specifically, the confectionery industry has shrunk dramatically in terms of the number of players but smaller companies have emerged to fill niches in the market.”

The key issues globally for the confectionery industry has been tight credit and the continuing practice of global mergers and acquisitions that have complicated the sales cycle to multinationals, concludes Greenberg.

Matching requirements

Paul Hart from Raymond Travel Machinery has also seen high demand for chocolate machinery. “From all size companies, used chocolate machinery seems to be in high demand. Our biggest seller in the last year would have to be chocolate tempering machines, ranging from 50 kg units up to 2000 kg units. Enrobing lines have also been popular and if we could locate them, we would be able to sell many more good quality chocolate moulding lines. We have seen high demand for double twist wrapping machines, in particular Nagema EL9 model units are constantly being sourced.”

“Having located machinery available for sale, we then look to match it with customers” current or future requirements,” says Hart. “We also offer the option of customers telling us their exact machinery requirements, and if we do not have it immediately available to offer, we will try to locate the machine for them.”

Hart explains that people must be aware that used machinery cannot be guaranteed to be available for sale for any length of time. “it is not like most new machinery, which can be purchased “off the shelf.”

In the past, small and medium sized forms accounted for most sales. Now, Raymond Travel finds that more of the larger and multi-national companies are sourcing used equipment and that many have special departments managing this. “Maybe this is due to them looking at financial implications, but also to do with immediate availability and long lead times for new equipment,” says Hart.

Wrapping needs

Lother A Wolf Spezialmachinen has seen an increase in machines and plants directly out of the seller’s facility and still in operation. Wrapping machines have been a key area for the company and the UK has an especially strong demand.

Michael Wolf, general manager, notes, “Wrapping machines in England have an important position whereas worldwide the demand is more for production machines for the candy industry. One problem with used equipment, especially wrapping machines, is the PLC controls. This is because the programmable control is usually protected by the manufacturer or sometimes the software is lost because of discharged batteries. In many of the used wrapping machines, there are old controls of which spare parts are not available any more.”

The company finds that international trade is limited because of different laws like import licences, import bans for used machinery and high customs duties for used machinery which are different from country to country.

Henk Somers from Lareka has also seen wrapping machines high on the agenda of customers. “Our biggest sellers in the past year were Rasch wrappers for hollow chocolate figures as well as SIG and Sapal chocolate bar wrappers, mainly because we can do all kinds of conversions and upgrades, according to multinationals at least at the same quality level as the OEM.”

He explains that potential buyers have to be alert that the machines are complete with no missing parts. “Only a few missing parts can make the difference between a good buy and rubbish. Machines like Rasch can make a complete range of products if equipped with the right units.”

Increased versatility

Several factors have had an impact on the used equipment market, notes Adam Malpass, marketing executive at AMP Rose. “Changes in product sizes and marketing means that more versatile (and generally lower output) machines are being more accepted. Throughout Europe rebuilt machines are now more like new ones because of standardised legislation “CE”/PUWER.

“Additionally, technology for confectionery/chocolate machines has not really developed, so a machine that is 20 years old can still compete with new machines in terms of performance. Chocolate and confectionery manufacturers recognise this and as used machines are usually ready to be shipped straight away, a company needing their product out in the market can expect a quick turn around from order to delivery.”

The R75 cut and wrap machine was one of the company’s biggest sellers in the last year, as the machine can work with various products, and can cut and wrap in a variety of styles. Chocolate wrapping machines has also been selling well.

AMP Rose also has a growing stock of new machinery. One example is the new Continous Toffe Cooker system. It works on the same principle as a batch cooker, with the cooking and caramelisation being achieved simultaneously.

Health and safety and hygiene upgrades on old machines are paramount as regulations are continually being tightened and companies want to protect staff from injuries. Malpass explains, “It is very important that companies check the guarding is up to standard, as you may be buying a machine that was used in countries where health and safety is not a top priority.”