In the last 40 years, since dynamic messaging signs became an integral part of the U.S. highway’s persona, the industry has gone from flipping mechanically iridescent orange dots to advancing fiber optic designs, and now, LED lighting. With continued advancements in solar due to greater energy efficient design and product with ventilation or cooling systems are no longer necessary. Trending along with LED advancements is the critical need for agencies to maximize their purchasing power while still acquiring ITS devices that truly match their most recent concerns in the field and on paper. As a result agencies are looking towards value versus finding the lowest VMS pricing in contract assessments.
The common mistake of choosing the cheapest:
For progressive agencies that once employed the lowest-price-available strategy, they all echo negative experiences in long term, problematic maintenance and design concerns long after the warranties have expired from these past purchasing arrangements. Additionally, any item on the sign added, not provided for, or altered after contract, can lead to paying more than market value after the contract is awarded. As a result, a five year contract can have a notable amount of hidden costs particularly if specified poorly or in the latter years of the contract.
Agencies often ask for longer warranties to decrease risk on the front end of ownership. While a positive step, it fails to create long term value and the maintenance burden of signs designed to be the least expensive still can carry forward long after the five years on a 20 year life cycle. Agencies have begun a holistic approach in sign acquisition both short and long term, looking for manufacturer relationships that encourage flexibility and change as the agencies move forward in both design and long term maintenance needs.
Here are key points when evaluating sign manufacturing standards and VMS pricing for provision. This could be done on a weighted points system, a percentage rating by fulfillment of need, subjective panel interview / review, or a combination of all three
7 key evaluation points based on value vs low price:
These and other variables can take on assorted importance depending on need and pain points from past experiences. All points require scrutiny by each agency department or supervisor affected.
I am interested in hearing experiences and feedback to add to the blog as an information source for others. Please comment and know these will be posted furthering the education of accurate and fair assessments to find the best value not solely the best price. Hugh difference!