Anyone who has tried to locate a part for a low voltage life safety knows it’s true: It’s nearly impossible to try to find parts to repair life safety systems that are no longer being manufactured. (Life safety systems include fire alarm, nurse call, patient tracking and infant security systems.) The essence of the problem is a combination of the facts that: 1) such systems typically last for 10 – 15 years and 2) the manufacturers of such systems tend to change product lines and/or configurations every 3 – 5 years. As such, for example, a fire alarm system installed in a building in 2006 will function properly until at least 2016, but the company that manufactured the system may stop producing parts for it in 2010. (As an aside, even the 10 year old systems would likely function longer, but improvements in technology may mean that the existing system no longer operates efficiently, or may not have certain features or functionality that have become commonplace in the interim and, therefore, its owners may deem replacement a necessity.)
Companies that have these life safety systems installed and find themselves with a system that has a faulty part for which replacement parts are no longer manufactured are faced with a troubling and potentially costly dilemma: they either have to find an alternate source for the parts OR they have to find a way to make the system function in an acceptable manner without the faulty part in place OR they have to purchase and install an entirely new system. Depending on the size and complexity of the system, such companies can find themselves in a situation in which they need to find a $100 part or be faced with a system replacement with costs upwards of $200,000. Further exacerbating the problem is the fact that the very nature of these systems require a quick resolution or else, literally, lives could be at stake.
A temporary solution that some companies employ is to purchase a stockpile of spare parts when they initially install the system. The problems with this strategy are: 1) it is only a temporary fix, because the company will eventually run through its stock of spares, 2) due to the relatively high cost of the initial system and due to the fact that these systems do not provide any income to their owners, the cost justification of spare parts purchases at the time of installation is often not there, 3) the manufacturer’s warranty will expire while the spare parts are in stock and 4) the company would be guessing at which parts may fail at some point in the future, so it would not be guaranteed that its spares on hand would be the correct ones in the event of a parts failure down the road. Due to these problems, this strategy is generally ineffective.
Some of the companies that install life safety systems have recognized that this problem exists and have attempted to fill the void by maintaining a pool of spare parts. This solution works well for customers who are fortunate enough to be acquainted with these installation companies. For the vast majority of the companies who have life safety systems installed, but do not know these installers with the spare parts pools, this solution might as well be nonexistent.
Fortunately, the growing acceptance of business-to-business ecommerce has created a mechanism to address this problem. This mechanism would enable a company to become a clearinghouse for hard to find parts for low voltage systems. It facilitates both an efficient supply chain workflow and an effective product delivery system. PrimaryParts.com has taken the steps necessary to cultivate relationships with suppliers and end users to create a network of companies that maintain these hard to find parts and are willing to supply them to those who need them. PrimaryParts.com has also created a website that enables companies who are seeking such parts to easily search for the parts by a wide variety of features and to verify that they have found their part by viewing a photo of the part.
The Internet to the rescue! Fortunately the growing acceptance of business-to-business ecommerce has created an excellent mechanism to address the original problem and the shortcomings of the other solutions. Companies have risen to become clearinghouses to both buy and sell hard to find parts. These companies have cultivated relationships with both the end users and the suppliers to facilitate the exchange.
So search out websites such as primaryparts.com, to fill your legacy parts needs. You needn’t scrap an otherwise effective system for lack of a part!
If you need help with a hard to find part, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at PrimaryParts.com and I’ll put our team to work on it. We handle new and legacy parts for fire alarm, nurse call, access control, and CCTV systems.