The Problem with Purchasing Used Custom-Built Equipment

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By |July 5th, 2017|Homogenizer|

Occasionally, we receive an inquiry regarding used equipment.  The client might want to know the specifications for a system built 10-30 years ago. Sometimes, we have the records and can provide detailed specifications. Often, the unit is too old for our records and we can provide an educated guess as to the original design. Additionally, it is not unusual to find a listing for a used Sonolator homogenizer system which in fact no longer has the homogenizer or mixing element attached and therefore is just a pump and motor.

The real problem is that all our homogenizer systems are custom built to meet a specific application and customer need. Each and every system is different — there are no “off-the-shelf” systems. The only exception to this rule is our lab scale system, which is pretty straight forward and built to deliver up to either 2500 or 5000 PSI.

Custom-designed for your application

Each individual application calls for a best lowest pressure and therefore all our systems are designed to deliver that pressure.  The flow rate is determined largely by the client’s operations.  For example, if a bottling system requires 5 GPM, then the system might be designed to deliver 5-6 GPM. There is often an upper limit on both the pressure and the flow rate, but a system could be run at lower pressure and/or lower flow rate. This is controlled by the speed of the motor and the size of the orifice.

The work involved in defining the correct operating pressure and flow rate are in fact the same for a used piece of equipment as it is for new. In general, it is not worth Sonic’s time to get involved in the used market, because the work is the same, but the return is significantly lower. While we applaud those who are able to find a used Sonolator homogenizer system to meet their needs, it is very rare for someone to find one that will meet their exact needs. It can be a frustrating process — one in which many individuals give up looking. Time is better spent justifying the cost of purchasing a new, custom-designed system to meet operational needs.

Above: Images of a “Sonolator” listing from popular resale website — but in fact the Sonolator mixing elements have been removed, so these are really just pumps and motors.

Above: an image from the same listing showing the Sonic Sonolator tag with model number, etc. Again, there are no Sonolators actually contained in this equipment. They are fine pumping systems, but not homogenizers — as always: Caveat emptor! (buyer beware)

From the images above, you can see that one of the units listed was built in May 1998 — 18 years old. It is not unusual to see Sonic equipment operating well past 20 years, so there is most likely some life left in this unit. However, once again, the key the Sonolator homogenizer mixing element is not included with the unit. The Sonolator is operated between 100-5,000 PSI and from 1/2 to 150 GPM.

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About the Author:

Rob Brakeman
Owner & Director