Manufacturers versus independents

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Eschmann’s David Gibson lays down the truth about manufacturers versus independents

I stumbled across an article recently unveiling the shocking number of motorists that shun their main dealers for ‘fast-fit’ outlets and independent garages. As I read about the millions of car owners that opt for what they consider to be the cheaper option, I couldn't help but draw a comparison to annual validation and testing with decontamination equipment. As with cars, many believe that independent companies offer a better, more cost-effective deal, but in many instances this simply isn’t the case.

At Eschmann, for instance, we provide servicing, testing, validation and user training as part of our Care&Cover protection at no extra cost. Our service can help to save money as well as provide peace of mind. However, savings don't mean a thing if the job isn’t done properly, as it will only cost you more later on down the line. Whoever you use to look after your decontamination equipment, make sure you don't get drawn in on price alone.

Instead, consider the quality of the service and the reputation of the company. For instance, have you heard good things from other customers? Do reviews point to consistent results? Are they reliable? These are the sorts of questions you want to be asking yourself when considering your testing and validation needs – though of course the cost is important too.

There’s also a lot to be said about utilising the expertise of a technician with specialist knowledge instead of one who has been trained in a variety of different makes and models of equipment. As well as expert skills and a more-in-depth understanding and knowledge of the nuances of the product based on familiarity, you can count on the fact that standards are much higher when provided by the manufacturers themselves. If you had a Porsche, you wouldn't risk leaving it in the hands of a generic mechanic when you could take it to a Porsche dealer, so why would you do the same with your decontamination equipment?

Like a specialist car technician, manufacturers of sterilisers, washer-disinfectors and ultrasonic cleaners know exactly what to look for and where when working on your equipment. As such, they are able to carry out the necessary checks much more efficiently and to a consistently high standard. They will also have the specialist tools and validated test devices designed specifically for their equipment, ensuring accurate, certified results that you can rely on. If nothing else, I would say this is reason enough to utilise a manufacturer’s own engineers, particularly as you receive an official manufacturer’s stamp on your paperwork at the end of it highlighting that you’ve used their professional services.

It is also important to take into consideration what would happen if you used an independent company and needed replacement parts for your equipment. There are a number of tests that have to be performed (all of which can be found within HTM 01-05 guidelines) so there is always the possibility that follow-up work might be required to ensure equipment is fully compliant. You need to know that the parts are original and high quality, not spurious and possibly cheap parts bought from elsewhere. If you have cover with the equipment manufacturer, who has a team that can provide prompt nationwide coverage, repairs are also more likely to be completed quickly and effectively, at no extra cost.

Again, you wouldn't take a Porsche to any old garage for repairs or replacements, not when you’ve got experts ready to go with the right parts at the dealership, and it is just as important to do the same with your decontamination equipment.

All points considered, I think there is a very strong case for going direct to the manufacturer for your servicing, training, testing and validation, though of course the choice is yours. As long as the company you use follows the manufacturer’s guidance on how validation should be carried out, you will meet the mandatory requirements. If there is one thing I know, though, it is that doing the bare minimum has never done anyone any favours, so make your choice wisely.