Edger checklist: Questions to ask before making a purchase

September 25, 2009

The equipment selection process is a critical component in creating sustainable sales growth, says Howard Hanes, president of Salem Distributing Co., Winston-Salem, N.C. “Simply stated: purchasing an edger or any piece of equipment in this challenging economy must either increase your position or put you in a new position to succeed,” he says.

Three industry experts, John Czopek, brand manager, Sommer & Maca Machinery Division of C.R. Laurence Co., Los Angeles; Bob Spears, machinery sales division manager, Salem; and Carey Brayer, vice president of sales, Intermac America, Charlotte, N.C., recommend asking the following questions to ensure you purchase the right edger for your retail operation:

1. What type of edger do I need?
A peripheral wheel edger can produce all profiles, with fewer wheels, including: pencil edge, flat and seam, miter, ogee, waterfall, bull nose, etc. A cup wheel edger can produce flat and seam, and miter profiles.

2. What size edger is suitable for my operation?
Take into consideration your target production capacity and quality of finish when determining edger size. Look at the number of spindles (diamond and polishing wheels), the types of polishing wheels (composition or felt with cerium oxide), production speeds, and the maximum/minimum glass lite size and thickness it can handle.

3. What features do I need on a machine?
Consider what you now fabricate by hand 90 percent of the time. This is where the initial labor and consumable savings are generated. To increase your edge work sales volume, determine if any additional features on larger equipment would be utilized in the next two to three years.

4. Do I have the correct type of electricity necessary to operate an edger?
Most glass edgers operate on three-phase, industrial-type electricity. This is not always available outside industrial park locations and may be prohibitively expensive to acquire in a downtown area or at your location. Power converters are available that can change one-phase 230-volt, household-type power into three-phase industrial power. The converters are portable; you can take them with you if you relocate. You need twice the machine’s rated power (amperage) requirement to create three-phase from single phase. Consult a local electrician about the total available power in your facility.

5. Where do I find service for my edging machine?
First, determine if you are buying from a manufacturer or reseller. At some point in your machine’s useful life, it may need factory service. Find out where the manufacturer’s service technicians, if any, are located. Do they have to fly across the country to service your machine, or do they have technicians located around the United States? If your equipment supplier has several available technicians, this usually results in less down time.

6. Where are spare parts for the edger and consumable items, such as wheels and coolant, stocked?
Many third-party resellers only carry the highest volume replacement parts. This potential lack of component availability can leave your machine out of operation, and your customers waiting, for an extended period of time. And if they need to import the replacement component, it could be a very long wait.

7. How much do I want to spend on a new edger, and what kind of return on investment can I expect?
Learn the differences between a bargain-priced product and a quality, proven brand. There is a need and place for each, but be careful not to under-buy. Evaluate the gains made by the purchase. Will you receive a faster turnaround for your customers? Will you fabricate some parts made for other retailers in the area? Can you reduce your production cost or purchase price to obtain a higher margin? Will you be able to keep the machine busy enough for at least two weeks per month to pay for the machine and operating costs?

8. How quickly can the edger be delivered to my location?

9. What kind of experiences have other retailers had with this edger and machinery supplier?
Ask your supplier for references. Then ask other retailers to share their experiences with your machinery supplier and the specific piece of equipment you’re interested in. Ask about reliability, ease of use and dependability.