Factor in maintenance costs in the procurement phase

October 2015 Integrated Solutions

If you have committed capital costs on a project and don’t have a scheduled maintenance contract to protect that on-going asset, you run the risk of allowing small problems to become show stoppers, says Cedric Greeves, sales leader: Tyco Integrated Fire & Security South Africa.

Cedric Greeves
Cedric Greeves

“You’ll find yourself moving from a lower cost maintenance plan to further capital expenditure dealing with system failures. Think of it as buying a new car and not doing the oil service. A simple oil and filter change every year will give an engine longevity. Ignore this low cost maintenance item and you run the risk of buying a completely new engine,” he adds.

Greeves says there is also the comfort of knowing that by having a maintenance contract in place, you have a defined turnaround time and critical spares available to keep your systems going. Fire and gas suppression systems, for example, have a legal requirement for regular service and without these the liabilities are immense. “Statistics show that around 30% of businesses that experience a fire or flood disaster will go out of business within two years. This should be a warning message for all businesses that having a maintenance and disaster plan in place is essential.”

Fortunately, Greeves says, Tyco South Africa is finding that more and more clients take a longer term view on their investment in security and fire protection systems and are maximising that investment by properly maintaining their systems. “Besides extending the lifespan of the system, a maintenance contract ensures the system is working at optimal performance levels. This optimisation is achieved through a combination of planned/preventative maintenance as well as emergency repairs to ensure maximum uptime of the system. We are also seeing a growing trend towards quality and safety standards that demand that clients undertake to maintain their systems adequately.”

He points out that some clients prefer a comprehensive maintenance solution that covers planned maintenance, reactive maintenance as well as parts – total peace of mind linked to strict service levels with respect to response and resolution times. “This is hugely beneficial to clients who run mission critical environments or who cannot risk security breaches as a consequence of any system downtime. Other clients prefer to cover the planned maintenance and manage the emergency repairs on exception.”

Clients based in remote locations may opt for an in-house first line maintenance service simply because of the time it would take to get a technician to site as well as the costs associated with travel. “These clients tend to manage the first line of maintenance and opt for a routine inspection from us on a frequency that we agree upon,” explains Greeves.

He adds that while the costs of maintaining security equipment can be substantial, they are fully justified by how crucial the maintenance of security equipment is. “The key to the successful implementation of security equipment is to consider the maintenance thereof in the procurement phase. The cost of maintenance of security equipment can equate to anything from as little as 20% of the cost of the system over its lifespan, to well over 150%. This is largely due to the length of time these systems are required to work. If the lifespan of a system is more than 10 years, the ongoing maintenance over the life of the system can very well result in this effect.”

It also depends on other variables such as environment. “An environment like a mine, for example, that generates a lot of dust might require more frequent maintenance than a typical office; the investment required to maintain a site that is quite remote will attract higher costs due to teams having to travel to complete the maintenance as opposed to a similar site that is local.

“What you have to bear in mind, however, is that the total cost of ownership of a system is lower when it is maintained rather than fixed when it is broken. Often the costs associated with getting a system back to optimal performance after it has been neglected for some time outweigh the costs associated with maintaining the system. We believe that the key lies in tailoring a solution that fits the budget based on relaxing expectations for when elements of the system breakdown (i.e. accidents, lightning strikes, malicious damage, etc). It then becomes a matter of understanding which elements are critical and need immediate repair versus elements of the system that can take a little longer to repair.

“You have to consider maintenance costs in the procurement phase. Keep it simple. Invest in reputable brands from reputable integrators who have the resources and the infrastructure to provide proper support. These integrators must be supported by reputable manufacturers or distributors. One can have a great maintenance programme on paper but if the equipment originally deployed is sub-standard or the integrator cannot adequately support because of an unknown manufacturer or distributor, the whole system fails,” he concludes.

For more information contact Tyco South Africa, 086 1212 910, cgreeves.za@tyco.com, www.tycosecurity.co.za

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