The purpose of this article is to explore to pros and cons of building gas panels in house or outsourcing them to a custom fabrication shop. In this age of tight budgets, maintenance groups are often forced to do more with less, and have to determine what to do in house and what to outsource.
Pros to Outsourcing:
- Quality & Efficiency – Outsourcing allows you to send off the work to an expert so you can focus on the daily tasks of running the facility. A custom fabrication shop has the talent and tools in place to accurately and efficiently perform the work, and usually have the buying arrangements in place with the component suppliers to receive the needed parts at a deeper discount, allowing the savings to be passed on to you.
- Analytical Testing – Custom fabrication shops have the analytical equipment in house to perform the necessary tests (helium leak check, particle checks & moisture testing), so a third party doesn’t have to be called in. You can be confident that the panel you bought will be clean and particle free when you install it.
- Outsourcing Options – Once you determine that outsourcing is the best option, the question becomes “who do I have do the work?” A local mechanical contractor can be brought in, as can a custom fab shop, and you’ll need to ask detailed questions to determine who is best to perform the work. The local contractor can build the panels on site, but they typically have higher labor costs and are less efficient as this isn’t typically their expertise. On the other hand they are right there, and can physically measure to make sure the fabricated item will fit in the space allotted to it. The custom shop typically can build the items for less, but you’ll need to provide them with an accurate scope to assure you get what you want.
Cons to Outsourcing:
- Risk of a Poor Fit – The work you receive back will only be as good as the information you provide. If your measurements aren’t accurate, or you are fuzzy in your scope, then the work you receive may not function as intended or fit into the space it needs to. If space and dimensions are critical, take the time to accurately detail, and talk to the fabrication shop about the constraints of the application in advance of issuing the build order.
- Familiarity with the Chosen Company – If you infrequently call for these services, then you most likely don’t have a relationship with a fabrication shop who knows how you work and whose quality you’re familiar with. We see companies regularly go out for bid and accept the cheapest bid only to find that the work received is not what they intended. Should you need to outsource, take some time and talk with the fabrication shops. Explain your needs and what you expect and ask they how they insure you receive the quality product you need. Check the company’s website for evidence of a good track record and their capabilities. Outsourcing can be an excellent way to get the products you need built quickly and accurately, but it can be a frustrating and costly experience when you choose the wrong company to work with.