Air Conditioning Maintenance

Air Conditioning Maintenance: A Consulting Engineers Perspective As specialist  Techanical Engineers consulting on HVAC maintenance, we get many requests from contracting fraternity to be included in our data base.

Of course this is quite acceptable, but has the applicant given any thought to what exactly is required from him when applying for such consideration.

Setting up a maintenance and service operation seems a relatively simple procedure. A bakkie, a toolbox, a set of gauges, an extension ladder and a pack of nicely printed business cards is all you need. WRONG!

This may provide a hand-to-mouth existence, but it’s not going to cut it with a Consulting Engineer. You will need to set your sights higher.

So listen up and start looking at the bigger picture.

Appearance is paramount. A good impression opens many a door. This is done in various ways. Proper business premises, good communication network, clean reliable vehicles, neat appearance, a constructive and positive approach, there are so many ways to make that first (and lasting) impression.

An office, not the back of a bakkie, is the place to conduct business. All premises should have a good safe storage facility, not necessarily the open yard.

A competent staff compliment, with the resources needed to ensure efficient administration duties, will do wonders when dealing with the Consulting Engineer.

Comply with the Engineers admin requirements to the tee. Poor admin is the single most frustrating aspect of the job. A shoddy approach to paperwork will simply not be tolerated and will lose you the contract quicker than you can say ”flare nut”.

Make sure that you have adequate insurance and public liability cover. Have all the necessary up-to-date paperwork, the Client will require this.

You will be asked for your SARS Tax Clearance Certificate, VAT Number, BEE Certification, Workmen’s Compensation Letter of Good Standing, banking details confirmation and even Company registration documentation.

Having all this information at hand, makes it easier and quicker to facilitate the process.
It might seem onerous, even daunting, but the end result will be just reward in itself. Remember that the Professional Engineer has been tasked by his Client to implement the HVAC Maintenance programme. He knows exactly what is required to do so.

When completing the relevant Tender document, make sure you understand every clause and requirement, including the full scope of work to be priced on. If necessary, seek clarity in this regard.

Invariably a pre-tender site meeting will take place. This is the time to acquaint yourself with the plant and equipment and to ask all the right questions.

Does the Tender call for any specialist sub-contractors to be included. These can be the Chiller Specialist, water treatment chemicals and monthly service, BMS/controls specialist (monthly and major service) and others as applicable.

Engage with good, reliable sub-contractors and negotiate a favorable rate for inclusion in your final offer. A good specialist sub-contractor is worth their weight in gold.

Most Tender documents will ask you to indicate your hourly rates for works outside of the maintenance contract. This is a separate requirement and it must not in any way impinge on the maintenance staff or their duties.

In this regard, you will be required to include your rates for the services of a suitably qualified Technician to attend to any repairs and call-outs initiated by the Maintenance Team, Building Manager, Client, etc. These rates must be market related.

Ensure that the Technician is registered in the “Safe handling of Refrigerants” with a suitably recognized training facility. Proof of such registration will generally be called for.
Some Tenders will indicate a response time in respect of call-outs. This can generally be negotiated to suit the circumstances involved.

The Non-Performance clause contained in most Tender documents is always a contentious issue. This usually refers to non-compliance, breach of Contract, poor workmanship, lack of safety measures, poor handling of refrigerant, updating of site records, etc.

Penalties can (and will) be imposed for any proven non-performance. These can include immediate termination of the contract, suspension, withholding of monies due and in some contracts, even the imposing of fines.

The imposing of fines however, should not be entertained and should be resisted by the Tenderer at all costs. Such actions can lead to obvious abuse and as such, does not encourage a trustworthy relationship.

Engineers will generally require maintenance co-ordination meetings, to be attended by the Client, Maintenance Contractor and the Engineer. This can take place monthly, quarterly, etc. as required.

As the Contractor’s representative at these meetings requires to be of management status, allow for this cost in your tender price. Time is money and this must be taken into account.
In this regard, you should factor in all costs required to properly manage the maintenance contract.

In maintaining HVAC plant and equipment, many diverse skills are required. However, while it is not exactly rocket science, a high degree of management skill is required to facilitate the process, in order to present a professional offering.

Master this and the HVAC maintenance tender enquiries will arrive on your desk and the success rate will increase accordingly.

Patrick Burke

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