Column: Taking Time for Testing Products
In an ideal world, maintenance and engineering managers would have time to conduct thorough tests on all prospective products for their facilities.
Of course, that's an ideal situation. In the real world, work requests roll in, calendars fill up, facilities expand, and the time available to devote to product testing slips away. But for managers who can carve out the time, product testing can pay dividends.
Staples Inc. learned the value of testing when the office retail giant upgraded the parking lot lighting fixtures at its corporate headquarters in Framingham, Mass., in 2011. The company tested a number of different fixtures before settling on 148 watt (W) LED lamps to replace energy-consuming 400 W metal halide lamps in more than 150 exterior fixtures.
"We ran just a couple of different tests to see if we like them and took some photos during two-three months of evaluation," says Bob Valair, who is Staples' director of energy environment and management. "We wanted to make sure we put one in, and tested it, put two in, tested it and look at it and think we can beef it up."
The extended testing period helped Staples find the right product, save more than $34,000 a year in energy costs, and reinforce the importance of product testing. In a manager's world, the more time devoted to product testing, the merrier the bottom-line benefits.
Dave Lubach offers insights gleaned from conversations with managers who make key maintenance and engineering decisions in commercial and institutional facilities.
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