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Oem obligations #73869
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Can anyone advise me on whether oem's or their agents have a legal obligation to supply parts to us, the owners of the medical equipment if we request them?
i've experienced issues in the past where some will refuse to provide parts, using the age old excuse of not been trained on whatever the particular item is, even if it is a basic piece of equipment! They are very willing though, to send one of there own engineers to squirt some lemon fresh on it and put a "service sticker" on it for a premium price.
A rep from a company recently mention that they have an obligation but can anyone clarify this? is there an official document that any of my more esteemed brethren can point me to so i can shove it in these hungry merchants faces?
Cheers in advance chaps/ettes.

Re: Oem obligations [Re: rsysmexk] #73870
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It's an interesting question; and one that has never (as far as I am aware) really been put to bed in this forum!

It's something which (yet again) official Government Guidelines could easily adjudicate on ... but I don't recall any such words of comfort just at the moment. frown

On the other hand, feel free to wade through this lot (although I fear you would be wasting your time).

Over the years* I have heard various opinions banded about ... but I suspect that the real (legal) answer probably lies somewhere in Consumer Rights legislation. However, here is a quote lifted from this source:-

Quote

... there is no legislation that states that spare parts have to be available for any set period of time that we can find, either in UK or EU legislation.


No Good News, there, then. whistle

But note the so-called "Six Year Rule".

See also this earlier thread.

Meanwhile, the Management of Spare Parts for Biomedical Engineering Services (how's that for the title of a PhD thesis?) - as well as biomed logistics in general - has always interested me; so feel free to ponder (and hopefully, bring up to date) this ancient thread. smile

* In Saudi Arabia there used to be a (sensible) rule that parts had to remain available for purchase seven years beyond the initial (one year) warranty.

Re: Oem obligations [Re: rsysmexk] #73871
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If I understand your position correctly, you are trying to bring as much maintenance as possible in-house - from a situation where most (if not all) was carried out by either OEM's engineers or third party service providers.

Well, we can't expect those guys to give up easily; revenue is going to be lost, after all. In other words (and as you have already mentioned) you may encounter difficulties in obtaining "support" (including spare parts) in future.

What you may want to do is take a hard look at each type of equipment within your domain, and then ascertain (estimate - guess) the likely future requirement for parts as the kit ages. Once you have such a list (which may, in fact, be not too long) you can set about obtaining those items (assuming that you have the necessary funds), and then holding them in stock. Your sourcing options could be:-

1) The OEM
2) The supplier
3) Third-party vendors

Source 3) could include service providers in the UK, Europe or the USA. The USA has a large third-party market for medical equipment parts.

You could also ask other ("friendly") hospitals to source parts on your behalf! Or even someone who has attended one of the training courses you have alluded to (the same goes for "difficult to obtain" manuals). And before anyone starts howling - just remember who actually owns your equipment. smile

There again, we need to distinguish between spare parts (for maintenance and repairs) and "consumable" items or accessories often swapped over by the user. I have in mind the usual examples of NIBP hoses, cuffs, SpO2 probes, ECG cables, ECG paper and what-have-you. As we know, there is a third-party market for such items, so we need not bother the OEM or (official) supplier with those.

And don't shy away (as I know some do) from using "generic" parts where appropriate. Batteries, and IEC mains cables for sure - but also many (almost all) components and such like when carrying out repairs. We are, after all, engineers - so we should be able to make engineering decisions!

Yes; "sticker maintenance" - no doubt we've all seen it. frown

On a historical note, I was lucky enough to be brought up in an era where we tried to ascertain ("scale") at the onset (as equipment was brought into service) the likely need for parts projected forward over the lifetime of equipment. In other words, we stocked parts at the various "lines" of maintenance (3rd, 2nd, 1st), with "ready use" items held close to the equipment concerned (that is, at 1st Line). Yes; it sounds (and sometimes was) expensive - but in the long run may not have been, as equipment was generally able to be kept going long after "support" had otherwise been withdrawn (manufacturers no longer around, etc.). I realise, of course that "modern (accounting) techniques" and Just-in-Time supply chains have rendered such attempts at good husbandry unfashionable, but maybe we need to return to such methods!

Re: Oem obligations [Re: rsysmexk] #73872
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As always Geoff, thanks for the response. I'll have a look at the links provided later in the day.

I've been playing with the idea of adding the term to our tender offer to potential suppliers that they 'MUST supply technical training, support and parts' for the duration of the equipment life cycle of any product which we purchase going forward. They are more likely to agree with this term if it is the difference between winning or losing our tender. The hospital board of mgt seem to be in agreement with me on this as they see the cost savings from having it inhouse. I'm sick of the extortionate rates at which some OEM's/agents charge for menial tasks. If a garage asked for 350p/h to change an air filter on your car, what would you be likely to say?! I'm aware that there is some medical equipment kit which potentially justify their high rates, but for a lot of what we biomeds deal with on a day to day basis the high price is not justified.
I'll probably return to this thread in the coming months once I have everything up and running in the Biomed Dept. I'll keep you posted on how my "term" is going down during tenders as we have tenders going out in the near future.

Re: Oem obligations [Re: rsysmexk] #73873
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rsysmexk, do you create individual specifications or a standard sheet, here I do all the specifications on an individual basis, the special terms and conditions (Arabic) include a period of 10 years that parts must be available, me I add training for the technicians, internal and external. There is also a statement that the equipment must be patient ready (accessories/consumables) upon delivery and that the consumables must be available for a minimum of 6 months and the delivery must be coordinated with the end-user.

As you have mentioned in your post you have used the word MUST and this is essential, I have seen a lot of tender specifications using the word SHOULD and to me this is too vague.


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Re: Oem obligations [Re: rsysmexk] #73874
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... don't forget to include:- "plus all available technical information* and [insert number required] copies of users' instructions".

This stuff should be standard practice! smile

* I used to expand this with "such as circuit diagrams, service manuals, maintenance and repair information, and parts lists" - but from what I have seen of a lot of the modern service manuals, they often do not have such detailed information anyway; hence the catch-all clause "all available" (as in:- whatever is available).

Re: Oem obligations [Re: Neil Porter] #73875
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Originally Posted by Neil Porter

... consumables must be available for a minimum of 6 months ...


Ten years for parts, but only six months for consumables? Something's not right there, Neil.

Were you thinking of "shelf life"? think

Also, what about "pipeline time" (time taken to deliver) - can we pin them down on that?

I know we all have stories about kit being "awaiting parts" for - err, years. frown

Re: Oem obligations [Re: rsysmexk] #73876
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@Neil Porter
I've yet to enter my "term" on the tender documentation, but mgt, and probably more importantly, the CFO is interested in it as they see it as value in terms of cost and equipment uptime (no waiting for external engineers..) At the moment as I am super busy with setting up the Biomed Dept, I've suggest that the people who currently write the tenders include it as a minimum requirement. Only a couple of minutes ago, I've been told that we've got agreement from 1 of the big healthcare companies for pet/ct/mri with a cost saving of nearly 100k per year. We do ppm/1st line support, they'll provide us with training/documentation/phone support/parts and they will do the 2nd line support if needed. I'm happy with that news, its a good early result and hopefully a sign of things to come...

Once I've all my other ducks lined up here, I'll start drilling into other elements of tenders. I particularly like the way Lab contracts penalise agents who don't meet the tender specifications, it really ensures that service agents provide better service, but that's a job for some time in the future when I've got time to do it properly.

I'd be interested to discuss the topic of your individual specifications further Neil.
Do you have standard specification that you include in every individual specifications you generate? (a bit of an oxymoron there..)

Re: Oem obligations [Re: rsysmexk] #73878
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Yes; that imaging deal is exactly how it should be done. Good work! smile

Meanwhile, you may need to distinguish between specifications for new equipment tenders, and "specifications" for service contracts.

To avoid confusion, you might want to use the term "templates" (as in:- "contract template") for the latter. Unlike most equipment specs, these can often be "boiler plate" (form documents) that, once nicely developed, can usually be used over and over again with little, or no, amendment.

Re: Oem obligations [Re: Geoff Hannis] #73881
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Geoff, consumables will be added as stock item and ordered as required


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Re: Oem obligations [Re: rsysmexk] #73885
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rsysmexk, I create all the specifications separately and a second sheet with the technical terms and conditions. I am on vacation this week, when I return to work I will send an example of each format.

Have you considered the idea of having 'preferred' bidders, I have tried to put this into practice here but so far no takers.


Neil


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Re: Oem obligations [Re: Neil Porter] #73886
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Surely the whole idea of competitive tendering is the creation of a "level playing field", Neil? You know, where everyone gets a fair go.

"Preferred bidders" is just another opportunity for corrupt practices! You know, where "incentives" get offered by companies in order to get on the "Preferred Bidders" list. whistle

Or have things changed these days?

Otherwise, what qualifies a company to become a "Preferred Bidder"? And who decides who gets included? think

To my mind, a "Three Quotations" approach is generally sufficient (although that too can be abused - I won't go into details); all other things being equal (all requirements met - and that's where the nous of the purchaser comes into play), the bidder with the lowest price gets the deal. That way even the Little Guy (New Kid on the Block - whomever) gets a chance to set out his stall and make a buck (Riyal, Euro, whatever).

Free trade is God’s diplomacy! - Richard Cobden (1804–1865); English manufacturer and statesman

Historical note:- when I worked for (various) Operations and Maintenance contractors in KSA, we had to "Pre-Qualify" in order to bid on government Hospital O&M and (or) Biomed Maintenance contracts. Basically we had to demonstrate that we were a credible company, and not just "one man with a briefcase" (as we used to call such chancers). We had to provide various legal documents, letters from the bank, demonstrate technical capability and resources, evidence of successful completion of similar contracts and so forth. All that plus a "technical write-up" specific to the contract, as well as site visits. Plus a full costing exercise, of course. Quite a lot of work, in fact. If I remember rightly, there were Class I, II and III contractors for government bids. But all that was for large contracts, rather than the supply of equipment and (or) small scale service agreements.

Re: Oem obligations [Re: rsysmexk] #73889
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@Neil, it would be great to see the terms you write for reference, send them on if/when you have a chance.

I like the idea of preferred bidders "in my head" as having worked for a multivendor company in a past life there are definitely companies who I have always found fair and decent to deal with, while there are other companies, that I would avoid at all costs if I had the choice due to how they treat their staff, their work practices and attitude.

Unfortunately preferred bidders will only be "in my head" as a huge scandal a few years ago (where 1 company were paying for holidays, cars and giving cash incentives to hospital personnel to win tenders) highlighted the corruption in the medical game, so now there has to be a fair and level playing field for all companies (including the dodgy ones...).
Now even the foreign jollies (education seminars) for the consultants have been reduced and there has to be clarity in everything.

I subscribe to the 3 quotes rule, but including my preferred terms in the tenders will probably eliminate some companies who don't want to concede to the terms and indirectly form a list of companies who will work under the terms (not preferred bidders, but agreeable bidders..).

Re: Oem obligations [Re: rsysmexk] #73890
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As (almost) always, the ball is in the buyer's court ... it's just that - in my experience - many procurement offices seemingly can't be bothered (or, being charitable, perhaps don't have the necessary skills) to write a decent RFP. frown

Request For Proposal

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Geoff, the preferred bidder is mainly aimed at after sales service


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Re: Oem obligations [Re: Neil Porter] #73894
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Surely in such cases you would be lucky to find more than one or two companies that would qualify* anyway! smile

Yet again, the skill is (would be) in the precise drafting of the RFP. That is, in the description of the work to be done.

* Be able to carry out the work.

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Thanks Geoff, I have seen so many tenders that the bidding companies have ticked all the boxes, yet we know from experience that they cannot supply or service the equipment that they are bidding for. Also that some of the equipment that they are submitting does not match the specifications, even though they have ticked all the boxes.


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Re: Oem obligations [Re: Neil Porter] #73897
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No doubt many of us can recall similar experiences, Neil. frown

Don't you have a system in place where such chancers can be "black-listed"? For a certain period (such as validity of the tender concerned) maybe? think

But anyway, you can make use of such "did not qualify" (or, better yet, "no-one qualified") episodes in supporting your case for funding to carry out the work in-house!

In one of my Earlier Lives we used to use Third-Party Service Providers whenever possible; they were generally (always, in fact) cheaper, and we retained more control. In some cases (eg, for the so-called "high tech" kit), we were contractually obliged to seek three quotes for 2nd.line servicing and repair work. One trick we used (it's hopefully safe to mention this now, almost thirty years later) was to obtain a very attractive price from one of our sister companies. As we had many sites spread over a wide geographical area, the hospitals and clinics never realised who it actually was who turned up to fix their kit. I'll leave y'all to guess who actually wrote the quotes; and, indeed, who often was the "company engineer" who eventually turned up. In fact it was a "double win" for us, as we could arrange the visits in time to avoid the financial penalities that would have been applied for the kit being down for a certain length of time. I suppose you could say that it was all a bit tactical - but great "fun", nevertheless.

I am now reminded of an even Earlier Life when I did some work for a company selling equipment into Nigeria. Again, the clients (University Hospitals) always required the comfort of the magic Three Competitive Quotations for each deal. Needless to say, nice looking documents on the headed paper of bona fide companies based in Lagos were produced, and signed in the appropriate name and style - by Jim in our offices at [censored]! And, whoever won (and we made sure that each did now and then), we would be the ones actually supplying the kit. As I say, those companies did actually exist; in many ways they were the real winners, as they got their "fee" (dash) for effectively doing nothing, apart from maintaining some sort of back-street office (a bit like the "Agents" in Saudi Arabia back in the Wild West days). But those were the days!

Re: Oem obligations [Re: Geoff Hannis] #73898
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Originally Posted by Geoff Hannis

Surely in such cases you would be lucky to find more than one or two companies that would qualify anyway!


Obviously, in such cases the Three Quotations (Letters of Comfort) ideal usually goes out the window!

We also have to consider - or, indeed, ask - who do we invite to quote? Maybe this is what you were getting at with "Preferred Bidder(s)", Neil? think

And then - who adjudicates once the quotes (or bids) are received; and what criteria is followed? Once again, surely the buyer is in the driver's seat. smile

Again, back in Ye Olde Days (of the Wild West?) we got the client to agree to accept "Cannot quote" statements from suppliers in order to make up the number required.

Naturally, we had tame suppliers who were willing to make such statements (as well as putting in high quotes when required); I think we used to pay them [censored] for each such quote - easy money for them; and we retained control of the whole process. We had to be creative back then.

Re: Oem obligations [Re: rsysmexk] #73899
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There are many ways of evalulating contract bids (whittling them down, sorting the wheat from the chaff, or what-have-you).

Sometimes it's nice to cast the net far and wide, and attract as many quotes as you can muster (beyond the traditional Three); then you have more to work with.

I seem to recall a certain Ministry in a well-known Desert Kingdom who used to discard the highest and the lowest bids, to concentrate on the ones "in the middle".

We ourselves (an Operations and Maintenance contractor) used to price our own sub-contacts (with, I might say, a pretty good level of accuracy) and so were able to select sub-contractors "with confidence".

To be honest, it's not Rocket Science - although I know that many biomeds wanted nothing to do with the "grubbier" side of things - dealing with suppliers, and all the *rest. To me, it was all part of the job. smile

* As I may have mentioned before, I always refused to get involved with the blatant "greasing of palms" - my role was generally "operations" (that is, doing - or getting done - the actual work); but luckily, we had senior people at Head Office who seemed willing and able to take care of such matters when the need arose.

Re: Oem obligations [Re: rsysmexk] #73900
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Geoff, these days it is not the BME that is evaluating the bids we now have bean counters doing this work and therein lies the problem


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Re: Oem obligations [Re: Neil Porter] #73902
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Yes; I can imagine.

One of the (many) downsides of working for a large organisation, I'm afraid. frown

But surely it can't be long now until retirement from all that, Neil?

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Retirement? either at the end of this month or 1 more year depending what is offered


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Re: Oem obligations [Re: Neil Porter] #73910
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How about:- *"Less is More"? think

There is no Indispensable Man, Neil.

Time to stop holding their hands at CBAHI ... surely "Saudization" is complete by now (especially as we started that process almost forty years ago)!

I hope you have trained up your successor.

Happy New Year, Mate (and to everyone else on the forum). smile

* With apologies to the memory of master architect Mies van der Rohe and others for misappropriating their oft-quoted aphorism in a way other than originally intended!

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This is not about being "indispensable" this is about being involved in 3 major construction projects


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