Purchasing Equipment? Some Questions to Ask Your Supplier..
In today’s global marketplace, agribusiness companies are faced with a multitude of suppliers and a range of technologies. Extruders are no different. Offered by manufacturers from all seven continents, they are complex machines and the differences can be baffling: dry or wet extrusion, single screw or twin screw, with preconditioning or without?
Once you have a shortlist of suppliers, it may still be difficult to sort the technical jargon and sales talk from the day-to-day realities of operating an extruder in a commercial environment.
To help you find some clarity, here are some preliminary questions to ask yourself, and the manufacturer:
- Can the technology deliver the products I want? Producing fortified cereals for infants is obviously different from producing dog food, or extracting oil from soybeans. All three processes require extrusion technology. But will the extruder deliver the products I want, and is the manufacturer experienced in my application?
- Is the equipment robust and durable? Buying an extruder is a major investment. It may require financing. If properly maintained and regularly serviced, what is the life of the extruder? Is the extruder a delicate animal, that requires sensitive adjustment by a skilled operator with knowledge of electronics, or is it a solid workhorse, built for a tough environment, that will still be operating in 20 or 30 years’ time?
- What technical support does the supplier provide? Some suppliers load their extruder in a container with a manual and a ‘goodbye, good luck’ wave. At Insta-Pro, we have a technical service team with technicians based in many parts of the world. A phone call or text message will connect you to an Insta-Pro representative. We commission, service and troubleshoot at the customer’s production site, and test/develop new products at our R&D facility. We advise on financing and business issues too.
- Does the supplier have technical support in my region? A technician may be available but what if he’s located on the other side of the world? How long before he can arrive on site? If you have a shutdown and need assistance, you can’t afford to wait a month for a technician to arrive. That’s why we have technicians located around the world, so they can attend to customers promptly.
- How long will parts take to arrive? All extruders have wear parts that need replacing at regular intervals. A good maintenance operator will ensure essential parts are always in stock, and will order well in advance. In that case, parts can be shipped by sea freight or air freight. But what if you need some parts in a hurry? Can the supplier deliver parts by air courier in an emergency? At Insta-Pro, we are shipping out parts every business day, and have local parts distribution centers in many countries where demand is high or customers prefer to pay in local currency.
- Does the supplier invest in R&D or is he copycat? Some manufacturers offer extruders as part of a range of feed and food processing equipment. Some copy well-known brands and aim to compete on price alone. It’s best to partner with a specialist extruder manufacturer who is focused on the technology and who constantly researches new processes and improvements. Choose a supplier who invests in R&D.
- What is the resale value of my equipment? Not because you are planning to resell, but because the resale value will indicate how the market views the extruder you are planning to buy. Some extruders keep their value year after year, others are good only for scrap. There are Insta-Pro extruders out there still operating after 35 years in service!