A Guide to Laboratory Equipment Auctions in 2024

A Guide to Laboratory Equipment Auctions in 2024

Are you in the market to buy or sell laboratory equipment? If so, you might want to consider participating in a lab equipment auction. These auctions, which were traditionally held on-site, have now expanded to various online platforms, providing scientists with a convenient way to either find or sell used lab equipment. Whether you're in the process of setting up a new lab space or looking to offload equipment that's no longer in use, laboratory equipment auctions have proven to be a go-to resource for researchers.

Procuring and managing equipment can be a challenging task, especially in the life sciences industry where there's a high demand for specialized instruments. Staying abreast of the latest technology while maintaining cost-effectiveness can often feel like a daunting endeavor. This is where lab equipment auctions step in. They offer an opportunity to acquire essential equipment at reasonable prices and also serve as a platform to sell equipment that's no longer needed.

While cost-effectiveness is a key consideration when establishing a new lab, it's equally important to carefully evaluate the suitability of auctioned equipment. Specialized instruments come with their own set of challenges, and acquiring them through auctions could potentially hinder your team's progress and impede your research milestones.

That being said, we've had firsthand experience witnessing the benefits of lab equipment auctions. We've worked with numerous labs that have successfully equipped their facilities through this avenue. In this guide, we aim to provide you with a comprehensive overview of lab equipment auctions, empowering you to make an informed decision about whether this approach aligns with your specific needs.

We'll delve into the world of lab equipment auctions, exploring the intricacies and potential advantages, as well as the considerations to bear in mind. Whether your goal is to maximize cost-effectiveness or you're exploring alternative equipment acquisition strategies, this guide will furnish you with valuable insights.

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How Lab Equipment Auctions Work

Where Does the Equipment Come From?

Items for auction typically come directly from a manufacturer as surplus laboratory equipment, but that’s not always the case. There are some auctions in which items can come from many different sources. Because of this, it’s important to research the auction service itself and where the items are coming from before participating.

If you’re looking to sell, many online auction services provide you with the option to do so! We’ll list some of those sites and companies below. But first, let’s review the differences between in-person auctions and online auctions.

In-Person Auctions

In-person auctions take place as a live auction where an auctioneer announces the items and awaits bids from participants in an audience.

In a typical in-person auction, you’ll be able to examine the items up for auction and ask questions before deciding to bid. The information you obtain may help you estimate how much an item may go for or how much you think it’s worth bidding for.

If you decide to bid and win, you can pay for your item(s) and have it in your hands within minutes. However, depending on the size, weight, and transportation requirements of some items, they may be shipped and delivered to you at a later time.

In a live auction environment, you’ll also get to compete with other bidders in real-time and personally connect with other buyers and sellers. Attending an in-person auction may introduce you to others and help you grow your network.

However, because of COVID-19, many in-person auctions have moved online.

Online Auctions

Online auctions have always been about convenience. But now they are about so much more. With the SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant creating a surge in cases and the pandemic in full effect still, most auctions are now being held online.

It is often less expensive for sellers to use the online format when participating in one. It can be easier for buyers as well. They can bid from their lab or home and don’t have to travel to the auction location.

Online auctions can reach a wider audience because they don’t limit buyers and sellers to in-person auction events in their local area.

In online auctions, items are listed in classified catalogs with specific information so potential buyers can easily learn more about them. While all the information is readily available, an online auction may prevent a thorough inspection of the item. If buyers still see items they are interested in, they can place bids with their credit cards.

List of Laboratory Equipment Auction Sites

  • Copia Scientific: Created from a merger between three well-established resellers, Copia Scientific is one of the nation’s largest non-OEM resellers, refurbishers, and service providers of quality, pre-owned laboratory equipment. They offer a suite of asset management services, including auctions and asset disposition solutions, specializing in liquid handling, microscopy, laboratory automation, and more.
  • Equipnet: Equipnet is a global leader in asset management solutions. Their clients span across multiple industries and range from small to enterprise businesses. Their services include auctions, appraisals, asset redeployment management systems, global consignment, and much more.
  • American Laboratory Trading (ALT): ALT offers a surplus asset management strategy to help your company access working capital and provide your team with more time on science. Their services include auctions, asset valuation, redeployment, lab closure, and relocation.
  • LabX: LabX is an online marketplace for lab equipment and products. It provides buyers and sellers a space to connect and specialize in scientific, medical, process, and electronic equipment.
  • Surplus Solutions: Surplus Solutions provides high-quality used equipment and services to meet the needs of companies in the life sciences, from pharmaceutical and biotechnology organizations. Their services include auction services, brokerage, consignment, outright cash purchases, and more.
  • Public Surplus: Public Surplus is an online marketplace for buyers and sellers to connect. While the space sells different types of equipment, from computers and heavy equipment to industrial instruments like packaging equipment, there is a robust medical equipment section that includes microscopy, imaging, and research instruments. It also includes smaller items, such as general supplies and glassware.
  • The Lab World Group: The Lab World Group is a buyer and seller of high-quality lab equipment. For sellers, they provide auction services and several other services to help you liquidate your surplus equipment. For buyers, they list a wide variety of readily available equipment tested for quality. They also help clients recover income by selling their retired and decommissioned pharmaceutical and used biotech lab equipment.

Tips for Purchasing At Auctions

Know Your Price Limits for Each Item

Researching specific items can help you understand how much they typically sell for and what a reasonable bid is for the equipment. Checking instrument manufacturers, such as Thermo Fisher Scientific, Shimadzu, Eppendorf, Beckman, Agilent, Mettler Toledo, and Sartorius, allows you to see the brand new pricing of certain items, compare models, and more.

Collecting this information can help you set a price limit and establish how much you are willing to spend on each item. This way, you can better allocate your overall budget.

Research the Auction‘s Listings

Whether you opt for an in-person auction or an online approach, it’s crucial to research upcoming auctions ahead of time. Research the auction itself to make sure it’s reputable. Then, explore the catalog of items to make sure they have what you’re looking for.

Suppose you’re looking for an analyzer, such as a mass spectrometer, or a few centrifuges and a spectrophotometer, but the catalog only contains incubators, glassware, ovens, shakers, and freezers. In that case, you know you’ll need to look elsewhere.

What about if you need a flow cytometer, but the auction only lists miscellaneous equipment like compressors, lab amplifiers, vacuum pumps, la washers, or processing equipment? You’ll need to keep searching for an auction event that lists what you need.

Assess the Quality of Equipment

With any item, it’s essential to do a diligent quality check to prevent any maintenance issues or identify any damages. The quality of things can be based on a variety of factors such as:

  • Instrument age: Check the serial number with the manufacturer.
  • Repair/maintenance history: Check the manufacturer’s serial number and maintenance history.
  • Who was using the instrument before you? Was it Big Pharma? A biotech startup? Academia? Manufacturer surplus assets? Industry usage varies widely in terms of intensity. Knowing where it came from can help you determine how it was previously used and whether or not it is worth the investment.

Keep in mind the information from the manufacturer may not be readily available. Still, it will be instrumental in assessing an item’s quality if you can find it.

Look for Fees and Charges

Even if you find a great deal on the HPLC system, chiller, or evaporator you’ve been looking for, by the time you add on certain fees and charges, it may not be the value you initially thought it was.

Many auctions charge a buyer’s premium to cover the cost of running the event. Even online auctions may have extra or hidden fees. These can range from shipping costs, handling costs, and insurance fees that protect your items while in transit.

Disadvantages of Laboratory Equipment Auctions

Condition and Maintenance Problems

You may find the equipment is not in the best condition or up to your standard. Suppose you manage to find something that appears to be in good condition. In that case, there’s still the possibility of maintenance issues. If you spend a lot of money on a piece of equipment only to have it cost you a significant amount in repairs down the line, the initial investment may not have been worth it.

Additionally, purchasing an item from an online auction without inspecting it in person may increase the likelihood of running into problems. However, whether online or in-person, auctions are well-known for rigorously checking the quality of the equipment being sold.

Auctions Don’t Happen Often

Laboratory equipment auctions aren’t as common as car auctions or estate sales. Because of this, they don’t occur as frequently, and you may have to invest the time to research available options. Depending on event timing and proximity, you may not find any auctions that are possible or convenient for you to attend.

You May Walk Away With Nothing

Attending an auction and placing bids don’t guarantee you’ll bring anything back to your lab. You could be outbid, find that the equipment available is not worth bidding on, or determine the equipment is all out of your budget.

Here’s Our Bid

If auctions don't align with your preferences, Excedr offers a reliable alternative for procuring all your laboratory equipment. By entrusting Excedr with this task, you can bypass any potential risks and repair concerns. We exclusively lease high-quality equipment, ensuring that you receive either brand-new or manufacturer-refurbished items. This means you can have confidence that everything will remain in optimal working condition, as we encompass maintenance services within all our leases. Should any unforeseen breakdowns occur, rest assured that we'll cover the necessary repairs.

Our inventory boasts lab equipment from today's foremost manufacturers, catering to a diverse range of laboratory setups. Whether you require general lab equipment, pathology instruments, or advanced imaging technology, we have a wide selection that will precisely meet your needs.

Rather than navigating auctions with uncertainty, you can confidently lease all your equipment through us, eliminating the risk of returning empty-handed. Opting for Excedr not only saves you time but also proves to be a cost-effective choice. Moreover, at the end of your lease term, you have the flexibility to either upgrade your equipment or switch to another brand if necessary. Get in touch with us to discover more about how we can assist you in streamlining your equipment procurement process.