54 C H I M N E Y S , F L U E S & F I R E P L A C E S It makes sound financial sense to select flue installation systems on the basis of their whole-life cost rather than on lowest price, says Ian Sams, commercial director of Specflue Too many installers rely solely on price when specifying heating and plumbing products. This is bad for business for a whole host of reasons. The cost of a product, for example, does not necessarily reflect its quality (or lack of it), or its life expectancy. Neither does cost always take into account added value services – such as training, service and support – which can save valuable time, effort and money. Flue pricing Flue pricing tends to employ the ‘cost per metre’ calculation. But, this only gives you a partial picture of the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the product over its lifetime. That’s why progressive and enlightened installers calculate the value of the products they use with whole-life or life-cycle costing. This refers to the ‘cradle to grave’ cost of an asset and is essentially a means of comparing options and their associated costs over a period of time. Another definition – described in ISO 15686, an international standard dealing with service life planning for assets – is “an economic assessment considering all agreed projected significant and relevant cost flows over a period of analysis expressed in monetary value. The projected costs are those needed to achieve defined levels of “Too many installers rely solely on price when specifying heating and plumbing products. This is bad for business for a whole host of reasons” performance, including reliability, safety and availability”. So price only gives you a partial picture of the cost of ownership of the product; other important factors that determine product value include build quality, maintenance costs, opportunity costs (in other words, the alternatives given up when a decision is made), depreciation and available accessories. Initial capital outlay The TCO of a flue system will invariably be greater than the initial capital outlay. Considering costs over the whole life of the system improves decision-making because it enables you to accurately compare different systems; assess your future requirements; decide on the best source of supply, and optimise operational and maintenance support. Important factors besides price that determine the value of a flue include: Warranty period: Some manufacturers offer lifetime warranties on their products. Life expectancy: Innately linked to the warranty period, lifespan of a flue is determined by its build quality, workmanship and correct installation. One of our flexible flue liners, for example, should last the lifetime of the appliance under normal operating conditions. Installation ease and speed: Flues should be simple to fit, offering the installer an opportunity to save cash and hassle by saving time on the job. Indeed, our own patented products, manufactured in the UK, use the most up-to-date technically designed products with ease of installation in mind. Accessories and options: It pays to ensure the flue supplier also offers a wide selection of fittings such as cowls; pot, rain and bird guards; caps, and other terminal devices. Customer service and support: Ease of doing business is an important selection criterion so the attitude and expertise of the people you work with is critical. It also helps if the company has a long trading history. Specflue, for example, has successfully been supplying flue and chimney products for gas, oil and solid fuel systems since 1992. Added extras: For example, webbased calculators, like our free online Fluecalc tool (www.fluecalc.com) developed in association with Schiedel, offer prompt and convenient access to a job estimate. We also offer a secure roof area to showcase flues, terminals, fans, and renewable technologies, allowing the full working installation to be seen in a safe and controlled environment. Service quality: In other words, excelling not just of the product, but also in terms of business relationships, support, and back up. For example, my own company offers installers extra help when fitting our flues through our world class, highly respected training facility. Called to account www.hpmmag.com May 2017 enquiry number 133 Steel chimney liners One of Specflue’s partners, Schiedel, is so confident of its quality that it offers a no-quibble lifetime guarantee against defects on the Tecnoflex Plus liner system and approved accessories Mind the gap There are many benefits to working with a flue supplier that offers a complete range, but four, in particular, make the idea a no-brainer: • Peace of mind, knowing the supplier will not let you down. • The opportunity to form a close working relationship, and thus benefit from the latest flue developments and working practices. • Avoiding having to shop around, saving time and cash, and reducing exertion and inconvenience. • Security of supply and ready access to spares and appropriate training.
HPM May 2017
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