One of the first and most critical decisions when purchasing spray equipment is selecting a vendor. It’s important to work with a company you trust. Select a vendor that has been around for awhile, that has all the equipment your company needs. Too many companies spread their purchases around shopping for the lowest price. It’s better to focus purchases with one company that will be there for you when you have a problem. When spray equipment breaks down, the few dollars saved by shopping around for the lowest price up front will seem insignificant. Here are criteria to use when selecting a vendor:
- Reliability. Have they been around, and will they be around?
- Expertise. Are they experts in the field? Do they have expertise with the equipment they sell, or is it just an 800 number with a $10-an-hour telephone rep on the other end?
- Inventory. Remember, spray equipment wears out, so be sure they sold you the widget for $10 less, but do they have the replacement parts, repair kits, etc., needed to service the equipment once it has been used vigorously for a year?
- Good fit. Companies consist of people. Does the vendor fit with your company? Do you they listen to your concerns? Do they make recommendations? Do they want to help? If you’re not comfortable dealing with them, find someone else.
- Does the vendor sell you what they have on the shelf, or do they listen to understand what you need and provide that?
Additional principles to consider when buying spray equipment:
- Quality. Buy quality stuff and take care of it. It is much cheaper in the long run.
- Replacement parts. Always buy equipment for which replacement parts, repair kits, etc., are readily available. There’s nothing worse than having a piece of equipment down and a technician waiting for a $5 part.
- Standardize your equipment. This is one of the most important things a company can do to create a rational spray equipment program.
Here are additional considerations when selecting and designing your spray equipment:
Ease of use. The sprayer must be easy for spray technicians to use. Key components must be easily accessible so the tech can reach them easily. The sprayer must be easy to operate. If controls are too complex, there will be problems that cost the company money. Example: a large state agency purchased a computerized right-of-way sprayer to spray weeds along the highway. The controls were so complicated, the agency couldn’t find techs who could operate the equipment.
Ease of maintenance. All sprayers require maintenance. Many companies and techs don’t maintain equipment regularly. If maintenance is difficult, the odds of it getting done decline significantly.
If components are difficult to service, maintenance will take much longer, which means more downtime and higher costs. Example: A power spray rig was designed so the spray rig had to be removed from the vehicle and the hose reel unbolted from the rig to change the hose reel swivels. This is standard annual maintenance that should take 10 minutes or less. On this sprayer, it took two hours. Think about these questions:
- What maintenance will be required on this equipment?
- How easy will it be to perform maintenance?
- Is it easy to change the engine oil?
- Is it easy to remove the pump for service?
- Is it easy to access the hose reel swivel for maintenance?
- What other maintenance will be required and how easy will it be to do?
It’s much easier, faster and cheaper to think about these questions before the sprayer requires maintenance.