These days’ vendors of all sorts of capital equipment are all too ready to just take your money and run, there is no longer any accountability. We’re seeing it more and more; that you, the end users gets left with equipment that doesn’t meet your requirements due to a vendor that has taken their cut and no longer cares!
It sounds bad, and obviously not all capital equipment vendors are like this, but there are enough of these ‘silver tongued salespeople’ out there and you’re spending enough money to make it worth your while putting a few things in place to avoid becoming their next victim.
The more you specify, the more a vendor actually needs to solve your problem!
We’ve been in the capital equipment business for the past 30 years helping customers solve their oil water separation problems. Time and time again we work on jobs where customers are crying poor. When we ask them why they have very little budget, they tell us this is the second (or sometimes third or fourth) system they have had to buy in 18 months, they spent all their money on the first attempt and it didn’t work.
Fear not though, follow these simple tips and you can avoid all the hassle and cost of not getting it right first time.
Tip 1: Characterise the problem and required outcome
“Begin with the end in mind” – Stephen Covey
Sales people around the world have had this statement drummed into them for years and it is time capital equipment buyers got the same message. You need to know both what will be coming into your separator, and what you want it to achieve. Let’s say you know you want your separator to achieve 5mg/L, that’s all you need to tell your vendor, right?
WRONG! In that situation, all a silver tongued salesperson needs to do is assume that the inlet concentration is only 5 mg/L or somewhere near it and they can sell you a heap of junk and still meet your requirement – in reality your inlet concentration could be upwards of 1,000 mg/L and their technology has no chance of achieving this, but because it wasn’t characterised the vendor gets a sale and you’re stuck with a lemon!
Click the Site Survey download to see the absolute minimum that needs to be characterised, or watch our oil droplet sizing video if you really want to get on the path to really bullet proof characterisation!
Tip 2: Specify, Specify, Specify
So you’ve characterised the inlet and outlet concentration, you know what flow you want – now you need to make sure you communicate that to all the vendors that you have tendering for your work. The more you specify, the more a vendor actually needs to solve your problem, which is all you really want.
Don’t wait for a vendor to get the tender documents that say’s:
“1 x 50m3/hr oily water separator, please”
and then expect them to call you to ask for details, they won’t, they will ass-u-me and you’ll get the bill.
Make sure all of the information you gathered in the characterisation stage is clearly stated in a Scope of Works and a Data Sheet. You can find examples of these all over the internet or you can download our template to give you a head start. If you find a vendor that you like or a technology that works for you then don’t be afraid to go as far as specifying a company and model of equipment you want. The jobs we’ve worked on where the end user has been truly happy at the end of the process is where they’ve retained full control and have guided their consultants to specify exactly what they want.
Tip 3: Don’t ASS-U-ME your consultant will write a spec or scope of work for you
Often the big guys will outsource the design of their new plant and waste water system to a consulting house. When it comes to oily water we often see end users who will only go as far as telling a consulting team they need an oil separator and then leave the rest up to them. In the current market, that’s a very expensive game to play!
Consultants need to make money the same as everyone else, the best way for them to do this is to spend as little time on the job as possible. This means they will form-guide the hell out of things and copy and paste previous jobs as much as possible (we constantly see scope of works that reference completely different sites, clearly the last time the design was used). What this means for the end user is that unless you’re heavily involved, you get a design that takes the least time possible and is best for the consultants back pocket rather than your specific site needs.
Don’t get me wrong, there are great consultants out there and we work with a lot of them, however, at some point they hand over to builders or purchasing teams and if there isn’t a water tight specification then you can guarantee that money will talk and these middle men will attempt to buy the thing that makes them the most margin.
So what have we learnt? Capital equipment is expensive and you want to make sure you get the selection right the first time. In order to do this, characterise as much as you can, then make sure that information gets into a spec, regardless of whether you write it or a consultant does. Then make sure you get the final sign off on it before it is used in a tender.
Remember, the more you specify, the more a vendor needs to solve your problem!