Hidden costs for Pump Control projects

N2P’s Pump control expert Niki Johnstone shares his tips for some of the hidden costs in tenders he sees occurring in council projects.

Quoting for council projects calls for precise costing, and you want to be certain you are not going to end up wearing costs that you have neglected to factor in. 

Ask the right questions

Asking the right questions will help avoid situations where items have been excluded from the tender, which could end up falling into your lap by default – as these hidden costs are often significant. Knowing the qualifying questions to ask will save you headaches and money. 

Supervisory control and data acquisition – Who is dealing with the SCADA integration?

First, enquire about the SCADA integration provisions within the project. This essential software can be a costly add-on, and ensuring remote control of pumps and alarm activation with specific notifications is something councils need to access as a valuable management tool – particularly to ensure fast and efficient reaction to alarm events.

You should check if the council has its own team managing the SCADA integration or if they have an external contract with another party that is being paid to install it. 

You must be sure that it’s not being assumed that this is part of the proposed pricing structure of your tender, as SCADA costs can run up to and around the $5-10,000 mark – so this is a costly omission from any tender.

State any exclusions

A smart way to defray any murky areas within the pump control tender process is to state clearly what is and what is not accounted for in your costings. If you are not including SCADA integration, say so with clarity. 

It pays to be aware that each council will approach projects differently, so make sure you enquire upfront so you don’t end up paying for things out of your own pocket.

Does your tender costing include plinth installation?

The Controller comes mounted in a pillar box that sits on a plinth. The plinth is specially designed to allow cables to come through. This is an essential item for safeguarding your controller, and N2P does not provide it, so be sure you factor in constructing the plinth into your tender total.

Design and build of this item in-house will be the most cost-effective solution for most contracts. We have often seen this item omitted in Pump Control tenders. 

Have you factored in antenna mounting?

The antenna is used to send information from the pump location to the council’s SCADA software, to notify councils and municipal bodies of anomalies or prompt service requirements.

You must have an aerial survey conducted by a qualified radio technician in order to identify whether the radio signal is of sufficient strength to utilise a standard set-up where the antenna would be mounted on the pillar box – or whether the antenna needs to be installed higher up.

In your tender, you should state that you have added the radio survey cost and the antenna mounting – if that is the case.

Is a booster necessary?

In addition to the radio survey and potentially complex antenna mounting, the Pump Control project may also require a booster to offset a weak radio signal. Your radio survey will discover whether you need to factor a booster into your costing.

Clarity is paramount, so clearly state what type of antenna mount is used, and that you have excluded any radio booster in your tender. N2P typically includes the radio survey in its proposal but you won’t know if any radio booster is required until this radio survey is completed. 

N2P provides an end-to-end service.

At N2P, we can supply you with a turnkey switchboard pump control solution; we offer switchboard design and build, programming for your Remote Terminal Unit (RTU), Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT), and commissioning assistance. Unlike most control/integrator providers, we custom-design and build municipal-sized switchboards and take care of the data integration and software connections. 

Our package solution improves productivity with just one point of contact for contractors. This makes it easy to troubleshoot and solve any issues that may arise further down the track.

We are always on hand to offer expert advice on pump control and switchboards – plus helpful tips to ensure your business is aware of pitfalls and advantages that might be relevant. 

Speak to us for your next pump control project.