Opportunity knocks all the time … you just have to have the equipment to take advantage of it.
It was a moment of grave decision at the end of my bid review with Jerry last week. You remember Jerry? He’s our reclusive bean-counter who is renowned for his frequent all-nighters and for subsisting on staff lunchroom leftovers.
"What do you want to add for equipment?” he inquired, as he always does at the close of our collaborations.
I must admit I was sorely tempted to disregard the item entirely and tell him to add nothing, times being what they are. The last thing I want to do these days is torpedo a bid by tacking on any unneeded ballast.
But try as I might, I could not bring myself to disregard tools and equipment, a cost no less valid than cornerbead or fasteners. In fact, having given it some thought, I was now less inclined to dismiss the line item with the cursory formula that I habitually apply. So Jerry and I started to break apart the potential cost of equipment and tools with a more thoughtful, job-specific analysis, using some of the notions explored below.
Clearly, the question of what particular type of equipment has the most impact on your proposal depends on scope of work and the physical features of the project. Absent the exotic, the bizarre and the peculiar, most commercial drywall subs will say that manlifts figure somewhere at or near the top of every equipment-needs list. Questions and issues regarding manlifts that dominated my discussions with Jerry included the following:
Get a quote. As is true with any type of rental equipment, it is always wise to ascertain your project-specific manlift needs and get a job-specific quote for those anticipated needs, rather than rely on the default prices in your database or quarterly pricing schedules. Take notice that, presently, huge inventories of rental equipment are languishing in their lots, collecting dust. Most equipment suppliers are now inclined to provide some serious discounts in exchange for a simple commitment from a prospective patron.
Boom or platform? It takes an uncanny ability to visualize a very real jobscape from a ream of documents rife with omissions, but a thorough bid review cannot ignore the need to determine whether terrain and/or predecessor erections will allow platform lifts, or will necessitate the use of boom lifts (or a combination thereof). As most of us are aware, boom lift rentals are significantly more costly than their platform cousins, but most estimators will not bother to go back and adjust their labor for a reduction in productivity due to impaired movement and the limited load capacity inherent with the use of booms.
Make ’em sweat! I find that a lot of money is wasted on interior lifts. Granted, there are certain conditions under which they are really indispensable, it is also very true that our field hands constantly clamor for lifts strictly for ease and convenience where, with a little sweat, a Perry or rolling tower would suffice equally well. Look into this; Jerry and I found some significant savings here.
Owner advantage? Many outfits, like ours, have purchased equipment, including lifts, for the express purpose of eliminating the rental expense from the budget (and the estimate). But even in this instance, the cost of the purchase is still lurking out there and should be allocated across several jobs. In addition, a thoughtful review will unearth such expenses as transport, upkeep and repair.
Of course, manlifts are not the only equipment considerations deserving of an estimator’s scrutiny. Stationary scaffold, onsite forklift, crane time for hoisting, and specialty tools for one-time installations all came up during my review with Jerry. And while we did eventually ratchet up the bottom line of our proposal, we submitted it with the confidence of knowing that we had all of our contraptions accounted for.
Vince Bailey is an estimator/operations manager for San Juan Insulation and Drywall, Durango, Colo.