I came across something really kind of surprising on a visit to company in Japan recently. They specialized in making customized machinery parts and they are very good at it. During the tour, our guide explained that they prided themselves in buying second hand machines which they refitted and then put into service. I hadn't really seen a large company do this kind of thing before and it was surprising.

I pondered this for a while. We are so conditioned into thinking that we have to buy brand new, for all kinds of reasons, but do we really? Are there times when we could settle for used equipment to save money? Or even rent equipment when we need it? It might cost more per use but over time it might prove cheaper.

Of course the key is ensuring that the equipment will do the job to the level we need it to be done, but even then, maybe close enough is good enough, when you consider the advantages and benefits.

To see such a large business practice such frugality, is such a rarity. Their reasoning though was not just to save money, it was also to save the planet as well. The machines they use are big, they take a pile of resources to build, they end up rusting away in junk yards, when all they needed to keep working for many years was some simple attention.

These kind of thought provoking ideas that challenge conventional thinking are always valuable. Just because the norm is to do it one way, such as buying new and expensive equipment, doesn't always mean it is better.

We need companies like this to come along and challenge our thinking. They certainly did this for me.

Published on: Nov 10, 2016