Facilities regularly have to make choices on their service providers. This can be a daunting task when there are so many different vendors available; particularly when you conduct your research on the Internet. This research can typically lead to a service provider that offers a facility annual agreement covering all maintenance services.
These agreements are designed to secure all your maintenance business for your facility, such as:
- HVAC and Refrigeration
- General Maintenance
- Building Automation and Control
- Boiler Service and Maintenance
On the surface you would think that a one-stop shop would be a good value, single phone call, etc. However, when it comes to your boiler and combustion management needs this is not always the case. If you are like most people, you now are asking yourself why? As an owner/user, your focus is no doubt on the value and reliability of the service you are provided. Over the years, boilers like many systems, have become more complex and more digital. Historically, like your automobile, you could do the maintenance yourself, but today the sophistication has increased to the level that most people can no longer do their own automobile maintenance. You now seek out an automotive specialist with the right tools and experience to provide you with quality maintenance. Using this automotive analogy, when considering your boiler service, do you want appliance repair personnel, or generalist working on your equipment? Or, do you want a specialist in boilers and combustion providing that service? The one- stop shop company is typically a generalist who does well with overall facilities, however, when it comes to boilers and combustion, a specialist is a better choice.
The advantages of working with a boiler and combustion specialist include:
- Specialists stock appropriate parts on service trucks
- Particularly important in off hours/emergencies
- Specialists efficiently and effectively set-up proper boiler operation and burner combustion
- Generalist/appliance technician may not be familiar with the specifics of your boiler or have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of burner combustion and performance.
- Specialists are often a source of parts by the generalist
- Generalists frequently sub-contract with a specialist
- Specialists are experienced at solving the non-routine problems
- Generalists often have no experience
Consider this example that may likely relate to your situation:
Two boilers custom built and engineered to your needs/facility. One boiler has a flame shape and color that may be slightly different than the very same boiler right next to it. A boiler specialist knows that this may be a characteristic of each custom engineered burner and it may be acceptable. A general service technician may spend hours trying to get the flames to appear exactly the same, when in fact, adjusting combustion settings may be completely unnecessary. This can create exorbitant charges for tuning which was irrelevant to the boilers performance.
There is a lot more to know about combustion that a qualified burner technician will understand and respect in comparison to a general service technician. Understanding the combustion readings, flame shapes and patterns, and harmonics of burner operation are vital to overall boiler operation. The general service technician may not have the experience, training, or in-depth knowledge to fully understand combustion and burner performance characteristics.
Below are typical complaints regarding the operation, performance and maintenance of boiler systems that we hear from users with annual maintenance contracts with generalists. Are you frustrated with or relate to any of these?
- Took 4 visits to fix and billed for all visits.
- Technician seemed to be unfamiliar with the problem or boiler operation.
- Multiple parts changed to find the actual problem.
- Several different technicians visited the site to try and solve the issue.
So when you are considering a facility annual agreement, be sure to consider the following benefits with partnering with a boiler and combustion specialist:
- Effective problem solvingOften understand problem before arriving on site
- Fix on first call rather than multiple calls
- Frequently identify other issues not apparent to current problem
- Service efficiency
- Overall experienced staff
- Availability of parts
In summary, boilers and burners are far more complex than most technicians understand. So when an owner/user decides on going with annual “full service” agreement, frequently you get appliance level service rather than specialist service you deserve:
- Problem solving experience
- Immediate parts experience
- Lost time
- Facility efficiency
- Depth of knowledge and understanding of combustion and performance
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