It says it in the spec

PUBLISHED: 5 Oct 2017 13:19PM

Specification and documentation are everything, when it comes to delivering a clear and concise project of any kind. Good documentation protects both sides of the client /supplier relationship; against, those sentences no one likes to hear… “He said this, she said that… I thought that’s what you said, I’m sure we tabled this” … So on and so forth.

Getting all of this down in an engineering project can be tricky and time consuming, but nevertheless, equally as important as any other physical part of the works. When it’s in the proverbial ‘black and white’, it can be referenced and referred to, many times and amended to suit. Most of all ensuring both sides fulfil their obligation as agreed.

Simple…. or so it seems. Well actually it is far from that. People are inherently lazy when it comes to documentation and prefer the cut and paste method. Plagiarising and not challenging existing specifications from previous projects or using out of date or irrelevant specifications.

I have offered advice to many clients, whom have told me, “you can’t use that manufacturer of component, it’s not in our spec”. Even though that manufacturer, offers a far superior product at a more competitive price. The next thing I’m told is “it’s to standardise our spares” … To which I ask, “where are your spares for component X” … Usually to find they are in a sister plant (who are no doubt saying the same thing to their suppliers). The stark truth is more than likely, there aren’t any standardised spares and the ones that did exist, where used or became obsolete years ago. This mentality was spawned when automation spares weren’t interchangeable and available only on long lead times. Granted, some items (critical spares) are bespoke components or highly valued and specialised, that they need to be held on site anyway. Supply chain logistics have improved vertically and most standard items can be obtained quickly and easily.

Furthermore, on control systems, I hear, “it must be PLC from X only” to which I ask,” are all your onsite programmers, trained in software for X” … the next answer will be (in 9 out of 10 cases) “we don’t have any programmers on site but we are looking for one” … The words on my lips are then “starting on the 41st of Noctember are they??!” (good programmers are not easy to find, and it’s another head on the payroll, that is very hard to justify).

If you find yourself in this situation, commission a study or make a few enquiries as to where is the stock of what you need, how much does X cost opposed to a new to market product. How fast can I get it, what has changed since the specification was originally written… Etc. Etc. … and most of all …, the main oversight made…. Is it merely not a recommendation of type of product and not a shopping list as first thought…?

We have worked extensively with a multitude of suppliers an manufacturers and can tailor make the best package for you project, help with re-writing specifications for the new age of connected industry and liaise with manufactures for support agreements and legacy contracts.

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