Cheaper is seldom better

Cheaper is seldom better

Accidents related to substance abuse cost companies hundreds of thousands of rand every year. Therefore, it’s vital to purchase quality testing equipment, such as breathalysers. RHYS EVANS, managing director of Alco-Safe, explains

With the South African economy struggling to grow and many companies tightening their budgets, it is very easy for businesses to fall into the trap of choosing price over quality when making purchase decisions.

On the surface, cheaper equipment may offer most of the features and benefits that the more expensive model offers, without the steep price tag.

Let’s look at something simple like a breathalyser. Why does one brand with similar features cost significantly less than another brand? Build quality and the quality of materials used is one reason, but what most people don’t know is that the more expensive products go through various accreditation ratings.

These accreditations include tests for things such as vibration, moisture, humidity, dust and drop testing. It costs money to put instruments through these accreditations and tests, so, of course, the instrument will cost more to manufacture.

A cheap instrument, or piece of equipment, is also more likely to break quickly and require frequent repairs. It may also need to be replaced much faster than a quality instrument, as it might not be robust and withstand industrial wear and tear.

Cheaper breathalysers may also need to be recalibrated more often than quality machines and a failure to recalibrate the machine could also affect the reliability of the readings, or even its ability to operate at all.

Where the equipment is used for tests and the results have legal or life-changing implications, a cheap machine can also cost the business in legal fees, should someone successfully dispute the accuracy of the results.

It is, therefore, prudent to consider business equipment purchases as an investment and to empower the people who make purchasing decisions, so that they are better able to consider the overall impact of their choices. Here are some issues to take into consideration:

1. Does the model offer all the features needed to be able to efficiently execute the intended tasks to the best quality the company can afford?

2. What is the expected lifespan of the equipment? This includes manufacturer guarantees, warranties and anecdotal history from previous users.

3. What is the projected cost of ownership of the equipment over its lifetime, when including estimates for repairs and estimated maintenance costs?

4. Is this particular model accredited and well-respected by the industry? Does the use of, or the results from, the equipment have legal or life-saving implications?

5. Can the business afford to operate for more than one day without the equipment in the event of equipment failure?

6. Would equipment failure directly hurt the business operations, or even the company’s reputation among employees, clients and, where relevant, affected legal and regulatory bodies?

After all, as Benjamin Franklin once said: “The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of a low price.”

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