Going spare

Miriam Booth highlights the growing trend for domestic end-users to ask their installer to identify a spare part replacement solution rather than deciding it’s time for a complete system upgrade.
In today’s marketplace, many installers are finding that end users are actively seeking a straightforward repair quote for their plumbing and heating needs. A few years ago, even if they were facing a breakdown and distress purchase scenario, they may have favoured a ‘rip out and replace’ approach, with the installation of a state-of-the-art heating system upgrade. For many, this decision was viewed as a home improvement venture.
Consumers are now increasingly likely to request a straightforward repair quote as an interim measure in the economic downturn, and environmental concerns may also contribute to their decision. With increased awareness of the environmental impact of our actions, even the more affluent customers are thinking twice about simply replacing old with the new, irrespective of whether the problem might be fixable.
Installers need to stay attuned to this step change and check out the options for sourcing the manufacturers’ recommended spares in order to complete the repair promptly, efficiently and with quality parts that will be hard-wearing, safe and entirely fit for purpose.
Safety considerations
It’s an accepted fact that a genuine part made by the manufacturer for a specific purpose ensures it fits right first time – and works correctly too. Spares available from manufacturer-approved suppliers will also be completely up-to-date. Safety is another key consideration.
For example, the UK Spares team is trained by manufacturers and receives the latest data specs, up-to-date information and product knowledge on an extensive range of replacement parts available both ex-stock or via our swift order turnaround facility. We have access to hundreds of schematics and technical drawings to help identify the correct electrical replacement part solution.
The risks of using cheaper alternatives
In addition to the key health and safety considerations, it would also be a false economy for installers who may be tempted to consider a cheap alternative to the manufacturer’s own spare parts.
If the wrong specification spares are used, most manufacturers will simply void the warranty. Genuine spare parts guarantee quality, and using branded spares will reduce the risk and cost of unnecessary repairs, and, importantly, in the event of any problems arising, manufacturers can then be approached for help or advice.
While there may be cheaper spares around for some applications, installers should be aware that quality standards may have been compromised in cheaper production techniques. Cutting corners on costs can sometimes mean that thinner metals have been used – for example in the case of the elements – and this can lead to premature failure of the new component.
Similarly, reduced gauge materials can lead to markedly more chance of damage, and poor quality bearings or seals can lead to premature repeat failure. Frankly, it can be a simple case of you get what you pay for, so for ease of mind, safety, operational efficiency and an environmentally responsible approach, the manufacturer’s own spare parts are the solution.
Environmental impact
According to www.direct.gov.uk, the average person in the UK discards more than 3.3 tonnes of electrical waste in their lifetime – this figure relates to the average person in the street, it’s not a figure ‘per household’ or ‘per plumbing and heating installer’.
Each year we throw away almost half a million tonnes of electrical goods (statistics courtesy of www.whitegoods. co.uk) and without a doubt many of these items would have been repairable if the manufacturer’s recommended spare parts had been sourced.
It’s true to say that this throw-away mentality does actually cost us more in the long term and presents the added problem of causing significant damage to the environment. We’re all aware that disposing of the old product can result in pollution, but there’s also the additional consideration of the environmental impact involved in the creation of the new product (as well as the packing and transportation carbon cost involved).
There are many little-known environmental considerations to be borne in mind when opting for the rip out and replace approach. For example, the manufacturing process for many electrical goods includes the use of valuable materials, including metals such as gold, copper, aluminium and iron.
Electrical equipment can also contain chemicals like lead and mercury. Of course, there is a chance that, if the correct disposal route is not taken, these chemicals could possibly seep into the environment and pose a potential hazard for people or animals.
The old disposable mentality doesn’t really have a place in today’s economy. Of course, if a product has truly reached the end of its lifecycle, then a new replacement product is needed, but the identification and sourcing of the manufacturer’s correct spares can make a major contribution to both cost containment and environmental impact.
Reliability, safety, value and product lifecycles are key for merchants, installers and end-users alike in this difficult economic climate. There’s an appreciable return to replacing parts rather than fitting a brand new unit. For example, replacing the three elements within a mid-price storage heater, including labour, would equate to around 40% of the cost of buying a new unit – and there are many similar examples relating to different types of electrical spares.
Finding the right spare parts solution is important for safety and environmental reasons, customer satisfaction, and also component parts and overall system performance. In today’s marketplace, developing a working relationship with an established spares supplier makes sound commercial sense for installers throughout the UK.