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2022 / 2023 Edition

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Buying and Selling Used Construction Equipment at Auction

First published in the November 2016 issue of Quarry Management as Deals on Wheels 

With hundreds of live unreserved auctions conducted each year at 40-plus permanent sites, Ritchie Bros. are the world’s largest industrial auctioneers. QM recently paid a visit to the company’s Donington Park site, in Leicestershire, where one of its biggest UK public auctions of the year took place to find out why buying/selling used construction equipment has become a popular trend in the marketplace

Buying heavy construction equipment can be a daunting and costly endeavour for many fleet managers and operators. The purchase of a dumptruck, wheel loader or excavator can be hugely expensive – running into high five or six figure sums – not to mention the risk if company owners have not worked with the equipment before or calculated the financial return on their investment.

The global economic downturn of the last few years and, more recently, the unexpected EU referendum result in June has made many UK contractors look at different ways of purchasing/financing plant and machinery.  

The used construction equipment market is one that has been booming in the past few years and the national and global trend for buying/selling used machinery shows no signs of waning. 

Ritchie Bros, one of the largest and most recognized players in the global used equipment market, regularly hold successful worldwide auctions (both on site and online) and offer added-value products and services such as shipping, insurance, warranty and finance packages.   

In 2015, the Canadian auctioneer sold US$4.25 billion in heavy equipment at its 345 unreserved auctions and online bidding portals. And market activity continues to be buoyant; in the first quarter of 2016, Ritchie Bros. sold a record US$1.02 billion worth of equipment – a 6.8% rise on the same period the year before.   

One of the biggest developments in the used equipment market has been the buyers’ increased preference towards using online auction facilities. With the advent of new technology (eg smartphones, tablets, Apps etc.), bidders now have the ability to hear/see the auctioneer, follow the bid and ask prices, place bids and make purchases – all in real time.

Rupert Craven, sales director (UK & Ireland) for Ritchie Bros., believes if a buyer finds the right equipment solution at the right price, they will purchase it no matter where they live or work.

‘In recent years, online buying has grown around the world and also at our auctions,’ he said. ‘In current times with the exchange rates, overseas bidders now have extra incentive to join and compete for machinery and trucks in the UK. With on-site and online bidding combined at our Donington Park site, we’re able to attract buyers from all over the globe, which gives equipment sellers a wider market to sell to. In our July and September auctions, over 60% of all lots were sold to online bidders.’

The company’s summer auction at Donington Park is traditionally the biggest in the calendar year for Ritchies Bros.’ UK team and the one-day event in July did not disappoint, with the number of lots sold at 1,640-plus, of which more than 1,020 were sold to online bidders.

Some of the highest-value plant purchased by successful bidders included: a 2009 Metso LT1110 Lokotrack mobile impact crusher (£97,500); a 2013 Komatsu PC360LC-10 excavator (£77,000); and a 2012 Caterpillar 980L wheel loader (£71,000). The auction attracted more than 1,000 bidders from 69 countries with distant buyers coming from as far afield as North America, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Japan.

Explaining what makes Ritchie Bros. stand out from other industrial auctioneers, Mr Craven said: ‘For buyers, we offer a large choice of machinery and solid auction methods, while offering a powerful suite of business tools and software solutions to sellers that reach bidders from all over the globe.

‘Centrally located in the UK, the Donington Park site has great logistical advantages for our buying and selling customers. We have a great team in the UK, both on the road helping people add their items to our auctions as well as at our site to run the best possible auction on the continent.’

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