Buying a Used Yard Ramp
There’s nothing more exciting than taking delivery of a bright, shiny new yard ramp… well, maybe a few things, but a new yard ramp is right up there!
Just like buying a used car, purchasing a used yard ramp can be a better investment than buying new. Depending upon your circumstances, buying a used ramp for a forklift can save you thousands.
So, how do you know if buying a used yard ramp is right for your business?
Here’s the ITz checklist of the 4 things you should consider when deciding if you should purchase a new or used yard ramp.
1. How Often Will You Use the Yard Ramp?
If you’re running a forklift, motorized pallet jacks, or workers up and down a yard ramp several times a day, you’re going to want one that you know is both durable and safe. While yard ramps might just look like a hunk of steel, they’re subject to wear and tear as heavy loads traverse the steel grates thousands of times a year.
However, if you only need the yard ramp two or three times a week to load and unload trailers, then a sound used ramp can last for just as many years with some regular maintenance and care.
2. How Immediate is Your Need?
While this might seem counterintuitive, new yard ramps are almost always easier to come by than used yard ramps. If you’ve got an immediate, urgent need for a ramp, buying a new yard ramp might be your only option.
For example, at ITz we always have 4 to 5 yard ramps fresh from the paint shop sitting in our parking lot. We’re able to contact one of our preferred trucking companies within minutes and have an in-stock yard ramp loaded on a flatbed and on the road to a customer within a few hours.
Even with luck on your side, you should anticipate that it will take a couple of weeks to even a month or more to find the right used yard ramp and schedule it for delivery. The reasons for the extra time required to find and purchase a used ramp are many.
First, there’s no centralized, national market for used yard ramps like there is for used cars. This means that it can be a challenge to know when and what used ramps are available for sale, and to find one that fits your requirements. There’s a lot of calling and manual leg work involved in finding, purchasing and transporting a used yard ramp.
Second, most used ramps for sale aren’t sitting idly on some back lot. As often as not they’re in regular use and the current owner typically has to make alternative arrangements prior to releasing the ramp to you, the buyer.
Finally, transportation of the ramp to your location is always going to be an expensive and time consuming component of the buy new vs. used equation. Buying used not only means you have to arrange transportation for the ramp from the owner, but you’ve also got to arrange having someone load and unload it onto the flatbed. Unless transportation logistics is in your wheelhouse, this can be a real burden on you and your organization. When purchasing a new ramp, the ramp manufacturer almost always arranges the logistics for you.
3. How Long Do You Expect to Own the Ramp?
Just as with a car, if you don’t expect to own your ground-to-truck or ground-to-dock ramp for more than a few years, it almost never makes sense to purchase a new ramp, (unless you have an immediate need). Like most depreciable assets, the resale value of a yard ramp declines the most in the first few years of the ramp’s life.
As a result, if you only need a ramp for a couple of years, and you’ve got time to search one out, buying used almost guarantees that you’ll own the ramp after the initial drop in depreciation and during the sweet spot of the ramp’s life where its maintenance is low and usability high.
Conversely, if you’re looking at an 8 to 10-year ownership of the forklift ramp, purchasing a new ramp is almost certainly the way to go. The useful life or a high-quality ramp (like ours!) is 12 to 15 years with regular maintenance. A cheap ramp may only give you 6 to 8 years before repairs, like fixing broken welds, replacing dodgy legs, etc. start costing hundreds of dollars in parts and lost efficiency.
4. What Do You Need the Yard Ramp to Do?
If you’re looking for a standard 30-foot long, 20,000 pound capacity portable ramp with a forklift level off to unload trailers, you’re probably looking at more than two-thirds of the used ramps in the market. However, if you’re going to use the ramp for ground-level containers, or a loading dock that’s 48 inches off the ground, the number of used ramps available will be more limited.
In other words, the more specialized your need, the longer it’s going to take to find a used ramp to meet those needs. For example, if you’re going to have workers walk on the ramp, you’ll need handrails and maybe even a diamond plated ramp floor rather than an open metal grate. These specific requirements can dramatically increase the time and effort to find a used ramp.
Special use situations often require the purchase of a new ramp, unless you’re willing to wait a painstakingly long time to find a used ramp that meets your needs.
Weighing the Used Yard Ramp Buying Decision
In the end you’ll need to weigh the four variables highlighted above to determine whether buying a used yard ramp makes more financial and business sense than buying new. If you need some help in making this decision, or just want to get a sense of what used ramps might be on the market, give us a call and we’ll be glad to share our thoughts.