Nathan Dube

By: Nathan Dube on December 15th, 2020

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What Should You Consider When Purchasing Packaging Machinery From Overseas?

Equipment | Investment

Are you thinking about purchasing a cheaper piece of packaging machinery from overseas in an attempt to save a few thousand dollars over buying domestically? Here is a bit of advice. Don't do it unless you have to.  While it may seem like a good idea at first, it will most likely end up costing you way more in the long run.


While foreign made packaging machinery may cost less at the initial purchase of the machinery itself, there are often times unforeseen additional costs that come along with the total cost of ownership associated with buying equipment from overseas.


From quality issues to the ability to source quality manuals in a language that you understand, there are some risks involved when trying to save money by purchasing machinery made overseas.


Repair services and preventative maintenance options can be slim and often costly for what ultimately started as a way to save money. Items such as parts availability, electrical requirements, and material options can all impact the cost of the machinery and the ease of procurement.


Now, this is not to say that buying packaging machinery from overseas is a bad idea. Instead, it is a process that can often be complicated and includes potentially unwanted headaches. Regardless of where you buy your machinery from, these helpful tips and tricks will help you make the right choice regarding buying packaging machinery.


Here at Industrial Packaging, we’ve been selling machinery from various geographical locations for decades. In this respect, we can help you navigate the challenges of purchasing packaging machinery from sites outside of the USA.


In this article, we will give you some useful information that will help you to figure out if buying packaging machinery from another country makes sense for you or not.


Things To Consider When Buying Packaging Machinery From Overseas 


Availability Of Assembly Services And Spare Parts


One of the first things to think about when considering buying foreign-made packaging machinery is the availability of assembly services and spare parts. There are many companies abroad who will gladly sell you a packaging machine. However, when it comes to providing assembly and getting your hands on spare parts, things can get a bit tricky.


Some overseas companies will not even offer assembly, service, and repair services for your machinery based on the distance. Those who do will often charge a premium to account for both travel and repair. These expenses often negate any initial cost savings that you were able to see by purchasing a foreign machine.




Depending on the foreign company you choose, spare parts may or may not be readily available. This was an issue before the arrival of COVID. However, the pandemic has only compounded matters with the availability of parts throughout the supply chain. Many manufacturing companies worldwide have had to shut down for months on end.


This means that lead times, that were already bordering on excessive, may be further complicated with longer wait times now. When running a packaging line, extended downtime due to lack of available parts is generally not a problem you will want to deal with. Downtime, as you know, results in severe financial losses that completely obliterate any initial cost savings from buying foreign equipment.


You will want to be sure that you have your chosen vendors word that the availability of spare parts, assembly services, and preventative maintenance does not have extended lead times before signing on the dotted line.


If you really want to buy packaging machinery from foreign vendors, first be sure to ask if they can procure spare parts kits. These are pre-made collections of spare parts that can be purchased in addition to the machinery itself. If the answer is "no", then move along. Companies who cannot procure these items are likely going to be problematic when trying to source spare parts in the future.


Detailed Manuals For Your Packaging Machinery


Another essential item of consideration when buying foreign-made packaging machinery is ensuring that you have access to detailed manuals in a language you can read.


Some overseas manufacturers may or may not have manuals written in your native tongue. Even those that do may not always have highly detailed information. Foreign laws and protocols do not always align with the same standards found in US manufacturing facilities.


packaging machinery instruction manual


While some foreign packaging machinery manufacturers absolutely do have similar standards for manuals and documentation, you must be sure this is the case before ordering a machine you cannot figure out how to get up and running once you have unboxed it.


Make sure you speak with a representative from the company you are ordering your equipment from to ensure that they can guarantee you access to detailed operating and service manuals are written in a language you can read.


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Local Support For Your Packaging Machinery


OK, so you have successfully purchased a machine overseas. You have gotten the required help from your vendor to set-up, install, and get your machinery running. Great! Now, do you have a local service vendor who can do the repairs and preventative maintenance for you?




Let me be extremely frank when I say you cannot afford to answer the above question with a "NO." All of your efforts to get to this point will have been for naught if you find yourself without a local service vendor. You need immediate support when a machine isn’t working. Relying on overseas support will cause you to run into big problems.


Problems like extended periods of downtime, low parts availability, unfixed repairs, potential safety issues, materials problems, and many potential nightmares. So, before you buy a machine from overseas, you must ask yourself, is saving a couple of grand worth risking losing those savings to an unmanageable situation that costs your company both time and money?


Does Your Packaging Machinery Require Heavier Materials To Run?


Some foreign-made packaging equipment will not work with lighter gauges of materials that can be run on packaging machinery made in the USA. Simply put, this will put you in a situation when you cannot decrease the gauge of your materials to save money.




If your machines have limited capabilities, you may also be limited in terms of what materials you can use, potentially being forced to run more expensive materials. This would obviously result in a much higher total cost of ownership. Once again, you will now have to watch as the money you saved on the initial purchase evaporate before your eyes.


Is The Electrical Output Compatible With Your Warehouses Electrical Lines?


Many brands of foreign-made packaging machinery do not have the same electrical components as American made equipment. You may buy a machine for a discount only to find that it is not compatible with your power sources once you have unboxed it.


British wall double plug socket


In this case, you will be forced to install new electrical elements in your facility or buy some form of adapter to run the equipment. Once again, this will result in incurring additional costs that render your initial cost savings moot.


Where To Buy Foreign Packaging Machinery


If you must insist on buying foreign-made packaging machinery for your facility, you will want to make sure that all of the elements above have been discussed with your chosen vendor. You will want to select a domestic and, if possible, local packaging vendor to buy your foreign packaging machinery.


Consider shopping around and comparing at least three or four different vendors. Request information and consultation from a rep from each company and compare each vendors offerings before making a final decision.


Be sure to make sure that they can guarantee that you have all of the above items ironed out before making a purchase. Talking to a legit packaging expert will give you the opportunity to get answers to your questions, additional tips and tricks as well as other pieces of information that you may not be able to get otherwise.


If you are wary about doing all of this leg work on your own, you may want to think about speaking with one of our packaging experts. They will be able to provide you with everything you need in order to decide if buying foreign or domestic packaging machinery is a better choice for you.


They will help you choose a foreign brand of packaging machinery and make sure that all of the items in this article are dealt with appropriately before your purchasing decision. We can help you source foreign-made packaging machinery even if you do not choose to buy it from us.


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About Nathan Dube

As the Digital Marketing Specialist at Industrial Packaging, I am honored to create content for such a phenomenal company and work with one of the greatest teams in the Packaging Industry. Whether creating a video, writing blog posts or generating other pieces of content and multimedia, I am always excited to help educate and inspire our prospects and clients to reach their highest potential in regards to their packaging processes and needs.