The Risk Of Buying Cheap Industrial Furniture

Nov 15, 2017 2:08:35 PM / by Albert Cappello

It can be tempting, when outfitting your facility to be overly cost conscious about your industrial furniture purchases.

It’s just furniture, right?

Finding what you perceive to be a good deal on an imported industrial workbench or workstation may seem like a good deal, but in the words of ESPN’s Lee Corso……. “Not So Fast My Friend!!”

There are hidden risks to your business and your employees that should be considered before pulling the trigger on a purchase.

Let’s look at a few of the main risks that you face.

Poorly Manufactured Furniture Can Be Dangerous

cheap industrial furnitureStandards affect all of us. Whenever we use a product or service, there’s a good chance there’s a standard to cover it, whether we’re using a washing machine, mobile phone, playground or sports stadium, driving a car, paying bills, eating in a restaurant, making a complaint…there are standards for most products that we use, and everything that we do.

Put simply, standards make things better: safer, higher quality and easier to use.

Poorly made industrial furniture is that way for a reason. Foreign manufacturers get by, foregoing the cost of manufacturing to industry standards.  And, ignoring standards can pose a great risk to your employees.


Organizations like ANSI BIFMA and UL (formerly known as Underwriter’s Laboratories) are in place to ensure furniture and electrical components are manufactured to high quality standards that ensure public safety.  

Many cheap imported industrial furniture is manufactured without these safeguards, and the consequences can be costly.

Here is an example of the risks that came from a UL study..

Of the more than 25,000 pieces of equipment evaluated as part of our Field Evaluation services, over 17,000 of these - or 63% - have been found to have deficiencies. These deficiencies include serious fire and shock hazards, as well as other issues, such as incorrect or missing markings or misapplied components.

Is saving a few bucks on your purchase worth these types of deficiencies?


Cheaply Manufactured - Easily Damaged


If your work environment has hazards like harsh chemicals or applications requiring complex electrical equipment, buying cheap industrial furniture can pose problems.

Whether it’s low-grade countertops, or non UL-Listed electrical components, damage to your furniture in a harsh industrial environment may be inevitable.

Ensure that prior to purchase you are realistic about the needs of your employees to perform their jobs adequately, and the environment in which they work.

Whether it’s selecting right material for your countertop, or utilizing a modular workstation that can be customized to fit your needs, taking the time to properly assess your needs can lead to less hassle down the road.

Don’t settle for an inferior product.


Cheap Industrial Furniture Can Lead To Loss of Productivity

cheap industrial furnitureAccidents can happen in a busy industrial environment. Doors get broken, sometimes workers are in a hurry and are not careful when pulling out plugs from an electrical outlet.  There will be times that your furniture will need replacement parts.

If this occurs, and you toss in the fact that you purchased furniture manufactured in Asia, you could have a real problem on your hands.

Here’s a question to ask your furniture dealer before your next purchase; Are there replacement parts readily available?  

Maybe not.

If you are unlucky and you purchase an item that has a high repair rate and demand for replacement parts, you could be looking at a 6-8 week lead time to get your item fixed.

How would potential down time in your facility, and excess costs of shipment affect your productivity?

What about the frustration level your employees will experience when they can't work to meet a deadline?

Is it worth it?

Cheap Doesn’t Always Mean Better Deal

Just because you’ve saved a few bucks when you buy a piece of industrial furniture, doesn’t mean you’ve received a good deal.

In fact, when you factor in the total life cycle of your purchase, you may have gotten a HORRIBLE deal.

Let’s take a look at what I mean.

When inexpensive laboratory furniture including, lab tables, lab benches, workstations and fume hoods are purchased, there is more to the cost of that investment than just the purchase price. More often than not, money (sometimes significant sums) are spent after the purchase repairing, replacing and renovating the original purchase.  

The more cheaply made the furniture the greater the chance of expensive repairs or replacement.

What is TCO?

Total cost of ownership (TCO) is a financial estimate that factors the purchase price of an asset plus the costs of operation plus end of life disposal. When choosing among alternatives in a purchasing decision, buyers should look not just at an item's short-term price, which is its purchase price, but also at its long-term price, which is its total cost of ownership. The item with the lower total cost of ownership will be the better value in the long run.

Check out our previous article on laboratory furniture to learn how buying on the cheap can hurt you in the long run.

How Do I Protect Myself On My Next Industrial Furniture Purchase?

The answer is simple……..choose American quality over a cheap price. By choosing a furniture manufacturer that builds their products according to exacting standards, you can protect your employees and your bottom line.

High quality furniture typically comes with a longer warranty, access to replacements parts and is built with high quality materials that are more durable.

The bottom line is that you will receive value for the items that you purchase, eliminating downtime and ensuring that your operations function at their highest levels of productivity.

Don’t settle for less!!

buying american made lab furniture

Topics: American Made

Albert Cappello

Written by Albert Cappello

Albert Cappello is the CEO of Workstation Industries, Inc. WSI is a manufacturer of Industrial, Technical and Laboratory Furniture based in Southern California.

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