IronPlanet Explains Inspection Process in CEG Exclusive

A closer look at the methodical and meticulous process involved in the inspection.

Mon March 09, 2015 - National Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Paul Hendrix, IronPlanet equipment pricing analyst, met with Construction Equipment Guide (CEG) before the Florida Auctions for a walk-around tour detailing all the steps IronPlanet takes before any of its consigned equipment is listed for sale online.
Paul Hendrix, IronPlanet equipment pricing analyst, met with Construction Equipment Guide (CEG) before the Florida Auctions for a walk-around tour detailing all the steps IronPlanet takes before any of its consigned equipment is listed for sale online.
Paul Hendrix, IronPlanet equipment pricing analyst, met with Construction Equipment Guide (CEG) before the Florida Auctions for a walk-around tour detailing all the steps IronPlanet takes before any of its consigned equipment is listed for sale online. IronPlanet provided Construction Equipment Guide and other media an opportunity to experience the company’s thorough equipment inspection process.

Paul Hendrix, IronPlanet equipment pricing analyst, met with Construction Equipment Guide (CEG) before the Florida Auctions for a walk-around tour detailing all the steps IronPlanet takes before any of its consigned equipment is listed for sale online.

Hendrix, who has been in the equipment business since 1987, and in the auction business since 1995, has been with IronPlanet for a little more than 13 years.

Paul Hendrix: This is how we perform the final inspection that will go up for preview on the IronPlanet site prior to that piece being sold on IronPlanet. These thorough inspections are a key aspect of IronPlanet’s IronClad Assurance guarantee. The inspector will show up and introduce himself, ask questions, make sure he has the right machine. He will move the machine and crank it; then he will move the machine out to an area of the yard where he has room to move, because there are a number of physical operations that have to occur in that inspection that involve actually putting the machine through its paces.

The IronPlanet inspection goes through every single system on the machine in a very methodical way. Not only do we want to look at what’s physically on the machine in terms of features and attachments, but also we want to look at the condition. We want to make sure there is functionality in every one of the major systems. One of the first things most inspectors do is they crank the engine and allow the machine to run so that all of the fluids can warm up, all of the pressures are up to speed. So they can see if there are any leaks or anything wrong with the machine that would affect value. Our goal is to give an accurate representation of what the machine is, how it’s equipped and how well it functions. Once the machine is warmed up, the inspectors do a visual walk-around of the machine and what they are looking for is anything that they might need to go back and visit in greater detail later on in the inspection. They look for leaks, they look for frayed hoses and anything that might be a safety issue like tires, welds anything like that.

In my experience it’s better to start in the front and work your way through. On this Caterpillar 420E tractor loader backhoe you can see it’s a standard bucket, but you can also see there are some hydraulic lines coming to the front. You have a hook that’s been put on the front and a couple of tie downs that have been put on the back of the bucket. Detailed pictures will be taken of each one of those. I take note that we have bolt on cutting edge and that it’s in good condition. We will look at that cutting edge to see if it’s reversible and whether or not it’s been turned. One of the things that can happen if they run a cutting edge too long, it can wear into the bolt-holes on the bucket and create a need for more repairs that a buyer should know about. I’m taking a mental inventory of the features on the machine. Remember, I’m working from a checklist, so it does help me do this in a methodical way and not miss things.

The first walk-around is important to note what things you want to be sure you highlight later on in the inspection. I’m looking at the tire wear; I’ll check the size and brand. We want to be sure they are matched. We want to see if they are new or recapped or if they have any damage. We want to look at the rims, the lugnuts and make sure none of them are missing or loose. All of that will be noted. I’m looking at mainframe and the cosmetics, taking a mental inventory. The machine would be running. I would look underneath to see if there are any leaks, looking at the welds and the superstructure to see if there is anything that was welded or cracked.

CEG: What would be signs of excessive wear?

Hendrix: When I get in the machine and actually run it, I will push down on all the upper and lower kingpins. Every one of these has a bushing or a bearing and when you work that equipment you can see if there is any play in it. We are looking at every single joint.

CEG: The difference between tight operation and loose operation?

Hendrix: Exactly. We don’t use a dial indicator to get an exact measurement on that wear — we use relative terminology. It’s moderate wear.

We look at every one of these articulation joints to make sure we don’t have any kind of excessive wear and we use relative terms to try to at least give an idea that it’s moderate wear. We don’t give percentages, because we didn’t use a dial indicator to give us a quantitative measurement.

This particular machine [tractor loader backhoe] has an extendable stick. We look at all of the shanks and all of the teeth. A lot of dealers have a particular ordering package that they order and depending on whether or not it’s going into the rental fleet or sales inventory. The rental fleets are generally more plain vanilla machines; they’ll be canopies, four-wheel drives, no extend-a-hoe for the most part. They want to keep their rental fleet cost down.

You’ve done your walk-around. This machine [tractor loader backhoe] is pretty clean. A few little odds and ends: the tires have a little wear. Everywhere on our checklist where a picture needs to be taken there’s a little camera icon, so the inspector knows what he needs to do. Some of these inspectors will do their entire write up and then they will come back and they will take every picture and then put a check by every little icon to know that they got everything. Remember that each checklist is custom made for that particular category of equipment. It’s not just one checklist.

One of the things the inspectors will do now, while the engine is running, is they will pull this oil fill cap and they will video and see if there are any vapor coming out. So instead of just taking a picture, now we have a video of that. That’s something that is going to be standard. It’s a relative measurement that most diesel engine people will understand.

Hendrix: You will also want to look for movement on the bottom side of that. I try to take a look, for instance, on the cylinder itself. There’s a little movement there. Not much. This machine is dirty in all the right places. It’s been well maintained. You can see it’s well greased.

The other thing that is kind of an expensive deal is the slides on the extendable stick.

These sticks have wear strips that can be replaced and that can be tightened up. If you wear them beyond their scope, then there has to be some welding done to build that back up before you put the new wear strips back in. Those can be kind of tightened up, but this just needs a little bit of adjustment. Those are the things these inspectors are actually looking for.

We turn on all of the lights. We’ll hit the horn.

Air-conditioning is very important. It’s required by the inspector to literally open the hood and put his hand on the compressor. We’ve had inspectors look at the dial that has a snowflake on it and say it has AC. That switch might be in all of them. You have to notice and look that it has the apparatus to provide cold air. We don’t necessarily guarantee that it is working, but we will tell you it’s there. Sometimes it’s too cold to test it. We will actually make that statement that the ambient temperature was too cold to test the air conditioning.

Each system has its section in our inspections so you can focus on each. We check the brakes. We check the parking brake. Quite often people forget and leave the parking brake on and the service brakes work fine, but the parking brake won’t hold. That’s incredibly common. The parking brake is basically on the drive train; it’s on a drive shaft and it’s not hard to fix and it’s not a terribly expensive fix. Service brakes are another thing all together.

Once we go through every one of these things and look at what is physically there, then it becomes a systematic approach to engine, transmission, hydraulics, brakes, steering, linkage. Again, relative wear, looking for damage, looking for welds, looking for repairs. Every bit of that is captured, especially if there is a problem, there’s a picture. There are a prescribed number of pictures in every checklist and then there are additional pictures if there is a problem or an addition or a deletion. The inspectors have the ability to take each one of these sections and take it to the nth degree if there is some indication that this should happen.