Lerch Bates Inc. Building Insight

Global Leaders in Technical Consulting for the Building Industry

“Why do we need you?”

I belong to a professional consulting firm that works with architects in the design of new facilities. Our firm specializes in Vertical Transport, Supply Chain/Materials Management, Materials Handling, Waste Management, Service Docks, Housekeeping / Environmental Services, Facade Maintenance Equipment (BMU’s) and Central Sterile processing departments within hospitals.

“Why do we need to hire your firm?,” I am asked several times a year by different architectural firms.  “We can use manufacturers to provide us equipment layouts and designs. And our planners can duplicate the Owner’s operation in the new facility.”  Having answered this for over thirty years, I have come up with the following reasons:

  1. A consultant provides objective recommendations to the Owner’s needs, and is not subject to making recommendations geared toward a specific system, piece of equipment or operation.  An equipment manufacturer will naturally recommend a solution that includes their equipment and/or system. This recommendation may not solve the Owner’s need.
  2. Consultants understand that operations and building systems within new facilities are integrated while manufacturers may not understand how their system will impact others. For example: A manufacturer is supplying a waste and soiled linen gravity chute within a major hotel.  Waste and soiled linen will not be transported using the service elevators. A second manufacturer is designing an elevator system for this hotel and is recommending six passenger cars and four service cars.  However, the actual volume of elevator traffic is only half the anticipated need. The rest of the traffic is going down the gravity chutes. The elevator manufacturer has just over-designed their system.
  3. Consultants are dedicated to projects and can speed the design process.  Equipment suppliers are not being paid and do not have a contractual obligation (no consequences) to meet the design schedule.
  4. Consulting firms typically have a staff that includes professional members with operational expertise. These consultants gain an immediate rapport with the Owner and his managers.
  5. Consulting firms can educate the Owner’s staff on operational “best practices.” The Owner and Managers then can decide how they want to operate their new facility. (Revised operations based upon “best practices” typically translates to more efficient use of labor and lower operational costs).  In this case, a design professional cannot simply take the old design and copy it over to the new building. New operations will need to be supported by revised departmental design.
  6. Consulting firms can ensure that the form (design) meets the desired function (operations).  If the budget cannot support the desired function due to space, then the consultant can negotiate a mutually beneficial solution between the architect and then Owner.
  7. Consulting firms have a great depth of knowledge from the number and variety of projects they work on each year. This volume of projects provides them greater knowledge and the ability to problem solve faster.

The utilization of consulting firms on new building designs can save architects money in the long run.  In addition, use of consultant help ensure lower construction costs and lower operational costs to the Owner.

Now, ask an Equipment Manufacturer’s rep this same question and see what they say.

Leave a Reply