By John Henry, www.changeover.com
This sounds like a simple question, no? Don't be fooled; it is actually a quite complex one and you need to know that if you don't know how much a machine costs, it is very easy to spend too much money on one.
Costs are both tangible and intangible. Tangible costs are those that come out of your pocket, for which the company can write a check. They are easier to see if you know where to look. Intangible costs are harder to see. They tend to be hidden and some of them may be impossible to determine. Despite the difficulty they present, it is imperative that you find them as they can be for substantial amounts of money and you need to be aware of them when you buy the machine.
Once you have purchased and installed the machine, the costs don't stop. Utilities can be expensive. These include electricity, of course, but also compressed air, vacuum, steam, gases, such as nitrogen, and perhaps others. You need to know what the utility consumption is because there may be some tradeoffs. These tradeoffs might be using servos instead of pneumatics or steam instead of electrical heaters. Both may increase initial cost, but pay for themselves in reduced ongoing cost of operation. In order to make this evaluation, you will need to have an estimate of how many hours the machine will run each year. It may make sense to spend extra on servos for a three-shift operation. It might not save enough compressed air on a single-shift operation to justify the expense.