Equipment Purchasing – Your Job, or Your Integrator’s?

by | EPIC Modular Process

modular process system equipmentWho should be in charge of purchasing the equipment that goes into your process system? Many of our clients have the urge to want to keep this responsibility in-house and not allow the system integrator to purchase the needed equipment. We often get asked, “but isn’t less expensive for me to purchase it? Won’t you add a mark-up?” Sometimes we get told, “We will handle that. We know the equipment we want. We just need you to integrate it.”

Respectfully, we disagree. If you were buying a car, would you go to the car manufacturer and say, “I would like a Jeep Wrangler. I’ll purchase the engine, the brakes, the chassis, etc. If you could just put it together for me, that would be great.”

EPIC is like a jeep manufacturer. We don’t make the pumps, valves or tanks that we use on our system, just like a Chrysler plant doesn’t produce the gas tanks, lights or brake pads that it uses in the Jeep. What an integrator does, is build a process system that works. Not just build it – we design it, build it, integrate it and deliver it on time. And much like a Jeep Wrangler, our systems aren’t just made to work, they are designed and built to last, performing to your highest expectations. 

Would you expect the jeep manufacturer to take responsibility for the quality of the finished Jeep if they had no control over the sourcing of it’s parts? When you take away the integrators ability to be responsible for the equipment, you are crippling their ability to deliver a system of high quality and keep the project on schedule.

We know our clients wouldn’t source faulty equipment or bad parts – that’s not what we’re saying. The difference between a part working well or not working at all can be much more subtle. Flow rates and tolerances need to jive between different parts of the system, sizing of pipes, valves and tanks all has to work together for proper material handling – there are lots of moving variables that can affect equipment.

Who better to manage the big picture than your integrator? This is what an integrator does day in and day out – integrate equipment to work together, both mechanically and through automation. Who better to source parts for a Jeep Wrangler than the company that assembles Jeep Wranglers for a living? Who better to order the equipment for your process system than the company that assembles process systems for a living?

To be clear, we want our clients involved in the equipment selection process. During front-end engineering and detailed design, we work with our clients to develop the equipment list and lead times. We provide a detailed list of all equipment that will purchased, along with a project schedule, and we expect feedback from our customers on that equipment list. Customers should always be involved in equipment selection.

And to your concern about mark-up – yes there will be a markup. But it will be a reasonable markup, and it mostly constitutes the time that we spend managing the equipment selection process, which is time you would be spending out of your own pocket if you were managing the process. In most cases, this markup would be less costly to you than if your internal resources handled equipment purchasing.

Why? It usually takes us less time and less effort to coordinate equipment procurement. We do it all the time. We don’t have multiple layers of approval. We do have one project manage overseeing the big picture. We carefully plan equipment lead times so our fabrication crew isn’t sitting around waiting on parts, or having to go back and do re-work. We communicate with you any changes to equipment or schedule that might occur.

To us, equipment purchasing is not an item on a check list that has to be completed by someone. Equipment procurement is essential to a projects success or failure. Since we are taking on the responsibility of delivering a successful process system to you, we would prefer to responsible for all the essential factors influence that success, including equipment purchasing.


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