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Bucket Elevators: How Much Do They Cost?

January 6, 2022

Purchasing bucket elevators, like many types of capital equipment, involves an outlay. This outlay covers the equipment acquisition cost, the costs for installation and setup, and ongoing costs for operation and maintenance.

Like any capital equipment purchase, buyers of bucket elevators should consider the total lifetime costs of the equipment, and not just the initial purchase price for acquisition. In a previous blog, we looked at the issue of total lifetime costs (Life Cycle Costs, or LCC) and how purchasers may reduce their equipment LCC. In this blog, we focus on equipment pricing and clarify some of the factors that are involved in determining the price of a new bucket elevator.


The short answer to how much does a bucket elevator cost is – wait for it – it depends. Equipment prices are a function of many factors. These factors include the following:

Equipment size and configuration. The physical dimensions of a unit will affect its pricing. Larger units will consume more materials, parts, and manufacturing time which will all result in a higher price. In addition, enclosed or fully sealed units will use more materials than those of open design, reflected in a higher relative price.

Frame materials. Bucket elevator frames are usually constructed of either carbon or stainless steel. The type and gauge of steel used will affect the final unit price. In addition, because the market price for steel can fluctuate, unit prices may reflect the current market price for steel.

Drive assemblies and components. Bucket elevator drive assemblies and components vary from manufacturer to manufacturer in terms of their design and the materials used. For example, many bucket elevators use metal roller chains in their drive assemblies, while TipTrakTM bucket elevators from UniTrak use a rubber beltchain. Similarly, buckets may be fabricated from steel, plastic, or other materials and they may be overlapping or interlocking in design as they are on TipTrakTM units. Drive motors will vary in horsepower and quality, and will be sized according to elevator height and capacity. Thus, equipment pricing is likely to be a function of the drive assembly design and materials used by each manufacturer.

Equipment options. Customer-centric manufacturers like UniTrak tailor every bucket elevator to the requirements of each customer, where required. Equipment tailoring is done to ensure that the unit supplied performs exactly as expected in the field. Tailoring of equipment involves design customization where needed, and the provision of features and options that are required to address material handling, application, and integration needs. Depending upon the amount of customization required to support a given application, equipment pricing will vary.

Service and support. Buyers may choose to have their vendor supply installation and commissioning (or factory supervision of the installation) of a new unit, and may opt to enroll in a service or preventive maintenance program offered by the vendor. Although these items are usually priced separately from the equipment price, they can represent additional costs for the buyer.

The above highlights some of the factors that can influence bucket elevator pricing. Because each manufacturer is different, buyers should take care to ensure that they are comparing “apples to apples” when reviewing equipment quotes and prices.

Thus, for example, one manufacturer’s quoted price could be higher, but it may be due to the fact that this vendor is:

  • Proposing a fully-sealed model versus an enclosed unit
  • Proposing a unit fabricated from stainless, as opposed to, carbon steel
  • Supplying options that better fit the equipment to the application
  • Proposing a bucket elevator with a faster speed to achieve the capacity required. Faster speeds will incur additional long term maintenance costs as parts will wear out sooner and more maintenance will be required.

These are examples of some differences that may be noted in equipment proposals received from vendors, so it is important to read quotes and proposals carefully to ensure that any equipment comparisons made are valid. As they say, the devil is in the details!

If you are in the market for a bucket elevator, UniTrak will be pleased to review and propose on your needs. Our TipTrakTM bucket elevators are built from the highest-quality parts and workmanship in our ISO 9001-certified manufacturing facility, and have set the standard for quality and reliability for over 45 years. To find out more about how we can meet your bucket elevator needs, please contact our sales department directly.

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