Engineers often buy parts and equipment at year's end if funds from the year's budget remain.
It's the end of the calendar year and for many companies, also the end of the fiscal year. If you have any equipment money left in the budget, what do you do?
When I worked as an applications engineer for a company that sold test and process-control equipment, customers would come in December looking to buy equipment with whatever money they had left. There was always a fear that if you don't use the allotted funds, managements (accounting) might reduce your equipment budget in the upcoming year.
Equipment such as this Model 4055 function generator from B&K Precision is just the kind of equipment that you might order in December with leftover equipment funds.
Orders needed to be filled quickly to make sure equipment was shipped before January 1. For example, handheld multimeters and some bench equipment such as the function generator in the photo may sell in December if funds remain. In some cases, customers asked for invoices dated December 31 even if the product didn't ship until January. That was mostly the case with special or custom products as opposed to off-the-shelf products. I did once take a call from a customer on December 31 who wanted a product shipped that day. Unfortunately, the UPS truck had already left so I took the box to the local UPS store and shipped it from there.
Everyone wants to ship as much product as possible before the end of the year to boost sales numbers. I've seen several ways to accomplish this goal. For example, one company I worked for (now long out of business) would not let let production workers take time off during the holidays. The workers usually didn't mind because there was lots of overtime to go around and at the holidays, they often welcomed the extra money.
The same company would ship unfinished systems sold for $200,000 before the year ended just to get the shipment on the books in time and ship the rest. No. I'm not talking about shipping partial orders, but partial products. The company would literally ship systems that were mostly frames, outer coverings, and maybe the system controller. The functional modules that were ready by December 31 were shipped and the rest was shipped later. The company would often send a field-service technician or factory technician to the customer to finish assembling and testing the system. In the end, the company spent more money than if the systems were shipped when completed, but it was all about looking good on the books.
In some instances, systems were left on a truck in the parking lot just so the company could claim it had left the shipping dock before the year expired. In other cases, the company would hold the books open for a few days in January, ship the products in January, but the paperwork would show that the systems shipped in the previous year.
While I assume that your company doesn't perform such questionable business practices, what do you do with funds that are about to expire? Distributors, do you see a surge in orders in December?