• Craig Drabyk

Evaluating Electrical & Controls Equipment Bids: Know What You're Buying


When it comes to purchasing electrical and controls equipment for a project, there’s certainly nothing wrong with accepting the lowest bid. So long, that is, you first make sure the equipment will arrive on time and has proven reliability, longevity, and no known issues.


Awarding bids based only on the lowest package price without the benefit of knowing what you’re buying can be a serious and costly mistake. This goes for major electrical distribution equipment such as substations, motor control centers, starters, VFDs, etc., building automation systems, PLCs for process, and instrumentation for measuring pressure, level, temperature, and flow. Once bids have been submitted, owners should sit down with bidders to review the list of equipment and find out if there are any known reliability issues or whether the equipment is at the end of its production life cycle. We advise owners not to blindly rely on the bidder’s word, however; the review should be followed with their own research in case some important information was not disclosed. The internet has made this much easier to accomplish than in years past.


Always make sure bidders can meet delivery deadlines, as delays can wreak havoc on an aggressive schedule. It is not uncommon for equipment purchased from the same vendor to be arriving from all over the world. Also, inquire about electrical reliability and repeatability, and what kind of startup and technical support can be expected from the local representative.


A recent example of problems that could have been prevented with some owner research occurred at a two-year old pharmaceutical facility where multiple control board starters had failed. Omni learned after looking into the problem that the manufacturer had been aware of the problem and was already in the process of designing new control boards at the time the control boards were purchased. Redesigned control boards with new starters would cost 300% more than they had the year before. Had the facility done some research into the manufacturer’s bid beforehand, they would have been spared the expense.

About Omni

Omni Instrumentation & Electrical Services, Inc. is a premier instrumentation and electrical contractor, providing superior total care solutions since 1986. Services include instrument installation, tubing installation, instrument calibration, control loop testing, startup and commissioning, power and lighting, process control wiring, BMS wiring, telecommunications and data wiring, fire alarm wiring, security wiring, process network wiring, and control panel fabrication. Omni Instrumentation & Electrical Services, Inc., is certified in Foundation Fieldbus, Profibus, DeviceNet and ASI-Bus installation.

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