Choosing a new or used robot
When a company is ready to invest in a robot or robotic system, the first major question that should be answered is whether to purchase a new robot or a used robot. While purchasing a new robot might seem like a cleaner, easier approach to an application, it is going to come with a significantly higher price tag. Used robots can generally be purchased for a fraction of the price of a new robot. As automotive factories unload large robots in bulk quantities such as the FANUC R-2000ia/165F, the large supply available decreases the resale price of them. As such, the cost of a new FANUC R-2000ic/165F could be 3-4 times that of an older model. In deciding on which option is best, the following questions will help determine which is the correct choice:
- What features does the application actually require? - Most robotic applications have not drastically changed in how they are performed over the past 20 or so years. Robots used for arc welding still generally weld in the same fashion. Material handling robots still perform the application using some type of gripper. More advanced features such as vision or sensing are nice but potentially unnecessary for most applications. The FANUC Arcmate 100ib is capable of performing the same MIG or TIG welding operation that the FANUC Arcmate 100id can do with only small differences in reach, cycle time, and accuracy.
- How long will the robot be in production for? - Some applications might be limited to a certain length of production in which the robot will no longer be necessary. Most used robots have a substantial useful life remaining and can meet the needs of the necessary production. Many companies are still using robots produced over 20 years ago. Robots that are less than 20 years old and have been correctly maintained such as the ABB IRB 6600 are still capable of production for more than 10 years.
- What is the price difference between a new and used robot? - While this answer is viable in nature, it is common that a used robot can be purchased for 50% or less of the cost of a new robot. The lower price allows for a much higher return on investment and greatly reduced upfront cost. The cost of the used robot will also vary based on the way it is sold. Buying a reconditioned or refurbished robot will generally be the highest cost followed by a robot that is tested and working and then simply as-is. Depending on the robot condition, purchasing an as-is robot might be perfectly acceptable. Some used Motoman robots can be found in like new condition in the event the unit was used as a demo or in a cancelled project.
- Does the customer have a specific requirement? - In the event the robot is being purchased in order to be integrated into a larger system, the customer might not know that buying a used robot is even an option. As previously discussed many used FANUC robots can complete the same tasks as a new FANUC robot. Used robotic integration is a viable way to save the customer a significant amount of upfront cost.
- What type of used robots are currently on the market? - Typically it is not difficult to locate most mainstream robot models on the used market. Industrial robots such as the FANUC M-10ia with an R-30ia controller or a ABB IRB 2400 with an IRC5 controller were widely produced and are usually available in the used robot market. Even lesser used production models such as the FANUC LR Mate 200ic/5L and the FANUC M-710ic/50 both with R30ia controllers are generally obtainable.
- Does a used robot come ready to work? - In a lot of cases the used robot was taken out of a working environment and is ready to get right back to work. A FANUC R-2000ib/210F that was performing spot welding in a large automotive plant is equipped with the correct tooling to be put right back into production. A Yaskawa Motoman MH50 operating in a robotic deburring cell can be relocated to perform the same operation elsewhere.
- What in house capabilities exist to modify or install the robot - Companies that have robotic technicians on staff can likely purchase a used robot that is being used for a different application and convert it accordingly. Since the FANUC Arcmate 120ic and FANUC M-20ia are mechanically the same robot, one can be modified to perform the others application with limited work and a change in software. Having the ability to retool a robot in house will allow for a Motoman HP165 that is performing a spot welding application be outfitted with a substitute end of arm tooling in order to perform an assembly application.
In summary the decision to purchase new or used depends on the production time needed, features required of the robot, capital available to fund the project, and used robots available in the marketplace. In most cases used robots are viable replacements to new robots. Should you have further questions regarding purchasing new or used robots, please contact us.