If you are active in the healthcare industry or healthcare-related research, then medical and laboratory equipment is likely to be an integral part of your daily routine. Hospitals, medical centres and organisations use a variety of instruments and devices for diagnostics, laboratory analysis and research. The global market for medical equipment is enormous and worth hundreds of billions of euros annually and is evolving constantly to keep pace with rapid expansion of medical knowledge and numerous new advances and techniques in medicine and related scientific fields.
Developments in the market have only accelerated during the recent COVID-19 pandemic that put medical equipment at the centre stage. One of the important lessons learned in this period is that the healthcare industry must also be able to quickly adapt and adjust their capabilities to the challenge at hand. It became quickly apparent that medical centres had a hard time to source the required medical and laboratory equipment and materials. Clearly, medical equipment – especially if it’s complex in nature – is often expensive and difficult and time-consuming to procure. Therefore it is hardly surprising that during the pandemic for many organisations it proved tough to upgrade their medical capacity fast enough to adequately respond to the challenges at hand.
One increasingly common and important method to upgrade medical equipment while maintaining operational safety is to buy used or “refurbished” equipment. The market for refurbished medical equipment is growing fast and fits within a larger trends of more circular economic models that are emerging for electronic devices such as telephones, laptops, and larger appliances and even in completely different market sectors such as clothing, cars and building materials. In particular for high-end medical instruments, purchasing used equipment has remarkable advantages, which we will discuss in more detail below.
1. Saving Time
Manufacturers are not always able to respond quickly enough to the needs of medical laboratories dealing with tight deadlines for medical analysis. Supply chain issues and lag-time in scaling up production capabilities can cause problems, and by the time that vital pieces of medical equipment arrive, they may not be needed anymore. To bypass these problems, medical labs increasingly order used equipment which is usually sitting idle and can be shipped at a moment’s notice, thereby significantly cutting back on financial risk and waiting times. In addition to buying equipment, it sometimes is also possible to rent it, which can be a great solution if you already know that you will need the equipment only for limited period of time.
2. Quality Assurance
Dealers of used equipment are trying to provide top-notch services to attract and retain customers. If the equipment’s quality declines, their work will also likely diminish, as will the customers’ contentment. Therefore, many distributors would do good to double- or triple-check it to ensure it is still in good operating order. As a result, it is possible that a piece of used medical equipment for medical analysis undergoes more in-depth testing than its new one that is already assumed to work. Often, the same effort or assurance is not provided by stores that sell cheap new but inferior medical equipment.
Used equipment can be spotless and well-refurbished when you purchase it and can be equally reliable and of comparable quality as new equipment. When purchasing used equipment, you have a few options and choice as to which degree of “used” is acceptable for your needs. Some businesses will sell products that are not labelled as new because they’ve been used for demonstration purposes or were returned after zero or minimal usage. Such equipment can frequently be purchased under standard warranties that also apply to the rest of the the manufacturer’s current assortment. Increasingly, manufacturers may also buy back their own used brands and models of used equipment to refurbish it and sell it with quality guarantees and warranty.
3. Budget Friendly
The benefit of purchasing second-hand medical equipment that stands out the most is the cost difference. You might save a significant amount of money as you won’t be paying the premium for things that haven’t been used. Therefore, buying used equipment may allow you to purchase more and better equipment that otherwise wouldn’t fit your budget. At the moment, buying or renting used equipment can be even more advantageous given the recent rise in prices of raw materials as well as a continuing chip scarcity that are driving up the price for advanced electronics.
Whatever the considerations, purchasing or renting used equipment is a tradeoff; you choose second hand but more affordable instruments to enable your business to work efficiently and at a lower cost. Saving money could enable your organisation to expand its research and experimentation facilities and expand its capabilities. Additionally, it may free up budget to increase the number of employees, save money for other unexpected costs or to raise salaries and improve working conditions or provide training and development opportunities for the lab technicians, scientists, and everyone else who works in your lab.
4. Eco-Friendly and Sustainable
You must be wondering what happens to all the equipment that wears out, malfunctions, or isn’t recycled? It doesn’t simply disappear. Electronic waste often ends up in landfill or is shipped to other regions where it can be dismantled and disposed of cheaply. Supporting more circular models that encourages sustainable practices is not only morally right, but it also helps reduce the carbon footprint of your laboratory. Waste reduction may play a role in overall business sustainability, which should be understood by all industries that deal with raw materials and manufacturing.
Reducing, reusing, and recycling are three strategies to make your business more environmentally friendly. Repairing and purchasing used equipment results to less production and are a way for organisations to reduce the overall depletion of raw materials.
To benefit from all the advantages that come with buying used medical equipment, it is also important to carefully consider from whom you buy it. Some labs may be willing to sell you their equipment directly without an intermediary, for example because they shut down or are replacing their inventory. Even though this is often the least expensive choice, you might not want to take this shortcut because it is not always clear who is responsible for quality control, warranties, compliance with regulations.
Moreover, some equipment requires specialised operators, technicians, or technical manuals to install and maintain which are often not provided by the labs that sell it. So unless you have the expertise already in house to deal with all those things, buying it through a trusted supplier may be a better option. Often, the better choice is to buy or rent directly from a reputable reseller that provides the proper guarantees and warranties and can handle the transport and installation for you.
Although there are cases where buying new equipment is the only option, there are also many situations where it may be wise to consider buying refurbished equipment. Ultimately, buying used medical equipment can save you time and money and can help reducing the ecological footprint of your organisation.
QuestPair matches buyers and sellers of laboratory instruments and offers a platform to suppliers of medical equipment to showcase their products. We wholeheartedly welcome suppliers offering refurbished medical equipment to list their items on QuestPair and contribute to a more circular usage of research and analysis instruments and devices.