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11 August, 2022

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On-line market links buyers and sellers of industrial spares

03 May, 2022

A British start-up is helping companies to sell items from their stock of surplus spares to others who are looking for particular components. The Web-based business, called Machine Compare Marketplace, is operating globally to link sellers and buyers of surplus stock including industrial controls, sensors, relays, connectors, switches and mechanical components such as bearings, brakes, gears and couplings.

Because the cost of holding spare parts is less than the cost of an unplanned outage, industrial businesses around the world are sitting on mountains of surplus mechanical and electrical inventory – much of which ends up in landfill. Machine Compare CEO and co-founder Ben Findlay has already identified spares with a potential value of more than $10m at industrial sites around the globe. He says that a typical small-to-mid-sized facility will often hold inventory worth $300,000, and will scrap around $100,000 of this every year. He argues that reselling the spares frees up capital, while recycling parts for their original purpose.

At present, the Marketplace has more than $35m worth of spare parts on its platform. Findlay expects this figure to quadruple by the end of this year. More than 60 companies have signed up to offer surplus items, including Nestlé, Anheuser-Busch InBev and Del Monte. “We have opened up everybody’s store to the world,” Findlay declares.

He originally set up the business with his brother, Eric, in 2014. But tragedy struck in 2019 when Eric died suddenly. Ben Findlay decided to continue with the business and in 2020 attracted a £1m investment to build to e-commerce platform. The marketplace launched formally in 2021.

Since launching the Marketplace, Findlay has found that he had to change the business model. “The launch did not go to plan,” he admits. Initially sales were poor, partly because many of the parts being offered for sale lacked the technical details that potential buyers needed to know, such as dimensions. So Machine Compare has developed a technology for “enriching” the data to add information about the parts.

The company now has a “data warehouse” with details of millions of products. As more companies offer spare parts, the database is becoming more efficient at filling gaps in the data.

Findlay: helping to drive a circular economy of surplus spare parts

“We set up Marketplace as a space where industrial companies can buy and sell their stocked spare parts to each other so that they don’t end up in landfill, but one thing that held buyers back was a lack of good quality data,” Findlay explains. He argues that data enrichment is “important for us, our partners and the planet. We hope this inspires more companies to come forward and use the platform, helping drive a circular economy of surplus spare parts. Together we can reduce industrial over-consumption and have a positive impact on our planet.”

The Marketplace charges sellers a percentage of their selling price, and organises door-to-door shipping of the parts. The prices charged by sellers have to be at least 25% less than a new part would cost.

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