‘Perfect storm’ of events fuels demand for used plant equipment

DEMAND for used construction machinery continues to gather pace, according to Ritchie Bros.

The firm revealed that with many businesses wary of making big investments in new machinery at the moment, and supply chain issues affecting delivery levels of new kit, the market for used heavy equipment is presenting ‘exciting opportunities’ for both buyers and sellers.

Ritchie Bros. said it saw sales in most categories of used machinery ‘perform above expectations’ in 2020. In many countries, infrastructure projects have boosted demand for equipment, while sectors such as agriculture, forestry and mining have ‘increasingly turned to used equipment’ to meet machinery needs, the asset management and disposition company added.

“We’ve seen tremendous global demand for used machinery,” said Karl Werner, president international at Ritchie Bros. “There’s still a lot of work going on, and credit is still available. In times of uncertainty, businesses tend to buy used machinery rather than new equipment to avoid big financial commitments.”

Ritchie Bros. added that the ‘shift’ to used machinery purchases has coincided with several OEMs reporting Covid-related supply chain issues. Others reduced production volumes in 2020 to protect employees during lockdown, which has also impacted new machine deliveries.

“Longer waiting times for new equipment are fuelling the demand for used machinery, which is available immediately,” Werner said. “All these factors combined have created a perfect storm that’s driving the strong demand for used heavy equipment, resulting in good price-performance for sellers.”

In Europe, Ritchie Bros. is reporting ‘strong appetite’ for used machinery. At a recent auction in The Netherlands, bidder registrations were up 19% compared to last year. With more than 2,580 online participants from 92 countries, the auction recorded the highest number of bidders in five years.

The pandemic has accelerated the trend for online bidding. In 2020, Ritchie Bros. saw web traffic increase by 35%, while more than 470,000 new users downloaded the firm’s mobile app.