Machine Tool Industry Insights - New Year 2020

Happy New Year, Welcome 2020 – A New Decade! What could this mean for Equipment Values? 

Believe it or not, this is my 4th New Decade in the Industry.  I started my journey in the Used Industrial Equipment business in the late 80’s, so I have seen the decade turn 4 times now.  It seems to me that a decade turn has always had an impact on machinery values, especially so with CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) Machine Tools.

Maybe it’s the way machine age is described.  We say we have a 2002 Haas Machining Center, or a 2011 Okuma Lathe.  I find myself failing to immediately equate those years of manufacture with the age of the machines.  I think that those of us who have been doing this long enough tend to lose track of the current year.  I still sometimes find myself saying something is “late model”, when perhaps I should re-evaluate.  In this instance we have an 18-year-old Haas and a 9-year-old Okuma.

When we are asked our own age, we do not say “I am a 1964.”  Of course not, we say I am 56 years old. Which one of these sounds older to you?  Well I am pretty certain neither of them sounds as awful to me as 7 decade turns.  Yikes.

I believe that the turn in decade not only emphasizes the age of things more to people, but it seems to amplify aging.  It is not the 2000’s, not the 2010’s -it is now the 2020’s – Everything before that is from a prior decade, or worse two or three decades.

We started to see the upcoming change in decade have an impact on auction results last fall (4th Quarter 2019). Many CNC Machines from the 1980’s are often “sale-proof”.  Sellers are lucky to get them to move at auction.  We saw a drop in sell prices for many 1990’s CNC equipment as well.  In the case of 1990’s equipment that is very large and costly to move, we saw a lot of no-sales.  I expect that was not a seasonal drop, but the ushering in of a new decade.  Everything just got 10 years older.  Including me...

John Lawton, CEA (Certified Equipment Appraiser)
First Vice-President AMEA (Association of Machinery & Equipment Appraisers)