How to make the right choices in a selection process

Public selection processes for hiring a lighting supplier often take place in the following manner: clients show the applicants a project plan and ask the applicants how much it would cost. And the truth is, there’s few better ways to fall short of an acceptable solution.

The project planners specify the numbers, power requirements, and technical design of the luminaires. They also create an wiring  plan, come up with an electrical distribution plan, design the switchboards, and so on.  The investor uses the project to count up the assumed value of the order and attaches it to the grant application for the Enterprises and Innovations Operational Programme (EIOP). Then, the project, including a budget for all individual items, becomes the basis for awarding the contract. Everything is done according to regulation – and at the expense of the contracting party.

Selection without choice

There are often several good solutions to every task, but there is only one that is the best. Our contracting party, however, makes its selection based on only one solution. To them, it might even seem like an easier method: the offers will surely be easy to compare.

Such a method, however, is problematic for two main reasons. Firstly, the contracting party is cannot be sure whether it is adhering to the best of all possible ideas. Secondly, the period between submitting a preliminary grant application and the announcement of the tender is relatively long, and during that time the proposed solutions may easily become obsolete.

Doublepower has been on the industrial lighting market for nine years. Despite that fact, we don’t claim to know every single luminaire or have all the solutions. We fear, however, that every project planner is in a similar situation.

It is not our intention to deny the role of the project planner. On the contrary, their role in lighting reconstruction projects has hardly ever been more important. The importance of this role, however, is not in the preparation of a specific solution.

An alternative path to the Enterprises and Innovations Operational Programme

Fortunately, there is more than one path to gaining funds from EIOP. Let’s have a look at one interesting alternative.

Lighting reconstruction without construction work is classified as a delivery (a delivery of goods and their installation). In the case of such deliveries, EIOP makes it possible to submit a request and hold a selection process without a specific project.

In the preliminary request, it is sufficient to estimate the assumed volume of investment and the corresponding share of subsidies. This condition can be met simply by presenting a generic estimate.

This generic estimate can be processed by the project planner or the potential supplier (who should not, however, be invited to the official selection process). The estimate contains only the total sums for project work, delivery of luminaires, electrical installation and material, and the underlying documentation.

In doing so, the requirement to prove how the applicant came up with the price of the delivery is met.

Prepare a reasonable selection process

If the preliminary request with EIOP is confirmed, it is now time to process the contract documents for the selection process. This is the project planner’s big moment: in awarding the contract, they can influence the tender winner to deliver the best mix of quality, purchase price, and the consequent operational costs.

A very suitable comparative tool for assessing offers are blind drawings of spaces for processing technical lighting calculations. In these drawings the project planner determines the height and limitations for hanging (trusses, ventilation systems), requirements for the level of illumination, and glare prevention. They also determine the reflectance of surfaces and the basic spatial parameters to calculate the maintenance factor in order for the lighting to meet these parameters over the whole course of its lifespan. The basic documents can be conveniently processed in various applications for lighting calculations (e.g. Dialux).

The document should also describe the conditions for cable guiding, the number of switchboards and their locations, requirements for (automatic) control and control sites, etc. Together with the contracting party, the project planner should establish technical requirements for the individual luminaires and the design of the electrical installation. Demanding industrial operation is hard on plastic luminaires, and therefore it is better to avoid them. If the luminaires are exposed to dustiness or other negative factors, it is advisable to list the requirements for the class of body protection, for the cooling of your LED sources and drivers, etc. You will also surely be interested in the lifespan of the luminaires, their luminous decay, and the terms of warranty.

All of these details should appear in the contract documents.

Now you make your choice

If you prepare your tender as we’ve described above, you’ll be on the ball when it comes to evaluation. But what will you gain from this?

First, the applicants will have to try harder.  You’ll reveal whether and how able they are in designing a lighting system around the limitations and requirements you’ve established. You’ll recognize whether the people you’ll be cooperating with for years to come are professionals or not.

Second and most importantly, the prices will be more interesting. If an applicant has found a way to illuminate your space with a lower power requirement, they may be able to reduce the breakers in the switchboard or unnecessary wiring. The idea is yours and so is the profit from it.

Now you’ve brought back the original sense of a selection process. You’ve responsibly selected the most suitable solution.

A word in closing

You may have thought to yourself that the tender process described above will surely be an unbearable burden on your employees. However, practice shows that the burden is the same if not lower than in cases of a tender with only one project. And, even if the scales do tip slightly, the long-term benefit of a proper solution will surely compensate your workers for the short-term burden that is put on them.

This article is based on methodology from the EIOP, CzechInvest’s seminar “Selecting a supplier in the EIOP according to the Law on Public Procurement” and Doublepower’s long-term experience with selection processes for the reconstruction of industrial lighting.