Remember 10 years ago when construction companies could buy first and ask questions later? That might be simplified a bit, but the truth of the matter is that with an economy enjoying prices north of $100 for a barrel of oil, getting the job done quickly was more important than saving on costs such as drilling attachments and tooling.

Well, those days seem like the distant past right now. It’s never been more important to maximize your budget. The drilling industry hinges on our ability to keep projects on schedule, and the best way to do that is to prevent problems before they happen.

It’s a balance. You’ve no doubt run into decisions about which attachments to buy based on your specific project, existing machinery and the expertise of your workers. Cost is always the most important factor, but if you neglect other elements then you’re bound to spend more in the long run.

Here are five crucial boxes to check before you commit to purchasing a shiny new attachment.

1. Durability

Whether you’re collecting standard penetration test samples or you’re in need of a sturdy new pipe handler, the last thing you want to do is turn around and buy a new rig in a few years. Fortunately, there are plenty of options out there when you’re looking for an attachment to outlast both the wear and tear of time, and the impact of usage.

2. Weight

Looking for something even more durable? Well, it’s possible, but the strain on your rig might be too much, and you’ll end up with a bigger purchase than you thought. The good news is that new alloys have made it possible to fortify attachments, reinforcing their strength without adding too much extra weight. This is particularly useful if you’re operating a system that requires human interaction. The lighter the attachment, the easier and safer it is to handle.

3. Flexibility

When it comes to operators, foremen and skilled laborers, flexibility is a valuable trait. If you can operate a grapple and you also have a knack for scheduling the rest of the team, you’re probably an important piece of the puzzle. Well, flexibility is an important aspect of several drilling attachments. If you can use equipment for multiple projects or specific jobs, then you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes time to check your monthly and annual budgets.

4. Product Support

With innovative new attachments hitting the market all the time, one of the keys of buying something new is knowing you’ll be able to ask questions later. The economy these days demands smarter work rather than harder, and sometimes that means products will require information updates. It’s tough to put a price on after-market helpful product support, except to say it’s always appreciated. Your best bet is to find a supplier or manufacturer who enjoys talking shop and is willing to help out if you need it.

5. Service Parts

Product support is much more than just handy tips. It’s the reality of ensuring the attachment works like it should. Sometimes that means replacement parts are necessary. When it comes to troubleshooting specific functions or replacing worn out pieces, is it easy to get someone on the other end of the phone to solve the problem right away? One way to keep costs in check is to hold off on buying tooling or other bonus parts. But when you do need them, will they be easy to find on a tight timeline?

It might not be a popular opinion, but I choose to look on the bright side of the oil downturn. Why? Because it’s an opportunity to improve outdated, inefficient processes. If we can train ourselves to maximize our investments while times are tough, then we’ll be way ahead of the game when the oil starts to flow once again.