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Value engineering - a complete consultation

Manufacturers need to do all they can to aid specifiers in meeting increasingly tight budgets, writes heating solutions professional Stephen Suddens

Whether for new build or refurbishment, architects and specifiers are following a trend that calls for unfussy interiors that mirror the Scandinavian model. It is a trend that extends far beyond upmarket domestic settings to commercial and public sector projects and in these streamlined developments, robust Scandinavian-style flat fronted radiators are pretty much a requisite.

Budgets may be under pressure but even so buying the best possible quality is paramount especially in places where robust product with in-built longevity is required. This especially applies to radiators in high occupancy/high traffic areas - schools, universities, exhibition and showroom sites, student accommodation and hotels.

There is a lot more involved in finding the right solution for individual projects than just choosing a product off the shelf. Specifiers must be able to rely on the expertise of knowledgeable sales consultants employed by manufacturers who can do more than just arrange for a radiator to be hung on a wall.

The specifier and their clients should be able to rely on commitment from the manufacturer from project concept to product design and specification through to service backup and delivery. The importance of offering the customer a choice of product as well as practical help at the installation stage such as organising deliveries as and when they are needed, even to the point of installation, thereby cutting costs on time cannot be stressed enough.

In today's tough economic situation, a radiator manufacturer has to be prepared to be flexible; to work with the client to find the best solution - without compromise, right the way through the chain of supply.

The reality now is that commercial and public sector operations may be tempted to make decisions that are price driven when this is not the best solution. We have seen in our industry that many specifiers are backed into a corner when it comes to the final decision as budgets are often adjusted downwards. We have to be able to help them find ways of cutting costs without compromising on quality.

We are now seeing situations where a specifier may have originally chosen a top of the range project but has subsequently had a drastic budget slash from, say, £30k to £15k. It is a challenge, but a good manufacturer with a large range of product and resources can help manage the compromises without loss of quality.

For example schools in particular need robust products that stand up to wear and tear and are impervious to denting so 2mm steel on the front plate of a radiator is desirable. By choosing another product other than the top of the range model but still with the 2mm steel flat front plate it is possible to still provide a robust and effective product with inbuilt longevity but at a lower price.

It is really important that specifiers know about the options available at the start of the project. A good sales consultant will build a relationship with the specifier and client and be on hand to offer advice and attend site with a variety of samples and options.

In this day and age a commercial organisation may well be strapped for cash but good product is still a necessity. A product that is guaranteed for 10 years won't be the lowest priced product on the market but it does offer the value for money they are looking for. It is possible to find solutions.

'Value engineering', usually interpreted as providing a cheaper, inferior product, should be reinterpreted to mean a complete consultation service from a manufacturer - from project concept to product design and specification through to service backup and delivery. By adding value overall, value engineering on the product itself, which could detract from its quality, then becomes unnecessary.

// The author is the sales consultant of heating solutions provider Hudevad UK //
31 March 2014

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