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Do the Leg Work Before Investing in Capital Improvements!
By Kim Evezich
Is your utility considering a major capital investment such as a pump, generator, chemical-feed system, telemetry, variable frequency drive or analytical equipment? Are you trying to comply with new Environmental Protection Agency rules but are unsure how to choose the correct product? If you answered yes, here are some guidelines to help ensure a good return on investment (ROI).
First, make a wish list of the items you NEED and a separate list of items you WANT. Using radio telemetry as an example, you might NEED a flow signal and tank level from a new tank/pump station installation. You might WANT to add an intrusion alarm, security cameras, and a pump station flood alarm. Further, you might NEED to add in-plant telemetry to meet mandated turbidity reporting, and you might WANT to add automated flow and chemical-usage reports. It is important to distinguish between NEEDs and WANTs early in the project, when you are defining the scope, in order to make tough financial decisions and justify the project to leadership and governing boards.
Once you have completed your NEED and WANT lists, it is time to prepare a bid or request for proposal. In some cases, the equipment might be part of a much larger design or project with complex drawings and specifications. In other cases, a simple sheet listing the NEEDs and WANTs could be prepared for vendors, allowing them to provide pricing. In either case, ask that the vendors provide the following information in addition to cost:
After receiving this information for a vendor or contractor, it is time to do your homework and set the stage for a great project. Call several references for each vendor or send them a questionnaire via email. Ask specific questions such as:
By now you should have a good idea which manufacturers and vendors have a good product and reputation. Now it is time to do the math. Based on real-world examples, determine reasonable life expectancy for the product you are purchasing. Take the cost of the project (including both initial cost and anticipated annual maintenance costs) and divide it by the years of life expectancy. This yields a cost per year and will help you make an decision about the lowest-cost alternative. In many cases, you will find that the more expensive initial investment will be more cost effective in the long run.
Next, ask some pointed questions to your final qualifiers:
You are now ready to take your request to your Board members, or issue a purchase order to your selected vendor!
Article provided by Timber Line Electric & Control Corporation of Morrison CO.
Yes! Timber Line does have the ability to program report generators for state & custom reports. A short video on this will be coming soon!