Buy the Right Inspection Van

It’s a commitment, so make sure you’re getting the service you need before making your next CCTV purchase
Buy the Right Inspection Van
Your relationship with your CCTV equipment manufacturer and distributor can dictate the success or failure of your pipeline inspection program. Service is a crucial part of the purchasing process so make sure to ask the right questions before you buy.

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Shopping for a new CCTV inspection van can be overwhelming. With so many pipeline inspection equipment manufacturers, narrowing down the search to just one can be a challenge.

Keep in mind that manufacturers have sales representatives who will come out and demonstrate their equipment. They will explain the features and benefits of the equipment. But at the end of the day, the choice can still be confusing, because each brand offers a range of options.

The right CCTV inspection van for the drain cleaning company down the street may not be the right choice for your business. It’s important to identify what you need and to understand how inspection equipment differs among manufacturers.

Long-term relationship

One of the major differences between manufacturers, and in my opinion the most important, is the service they provide. Buying an inspection van isn’t like buying a car. There are hundreds of places you can take your personal vehicle to be repaired, but service options for CCTV vans are usually limited to manufacturers and distributors. And contact with the car manufacturer normally ceases once you drive it off the lot.

This is not the case with CCTV inspection vans. You enter into a long-term relationship with the manufacturer, and in most cases the distributor, too. Pipeline inspection equipment needs regular service; equipment will break down whether it’s new or old. You are operating sensitive — and expensive — electronic equipment that is being introduced into a very hostile environment. In addition, you entrust equipment to employees who may not treat it as carefully as they should.

Service comes first

Your relationship with the manufacturer and distributor can dictate the success or failure of your pipeline inspection program. Service is a crucial part of the purchasing process, so make sure to ask the right questions before buying a CCTV inspection van.

Ask the manufacturer or distributor these questions:

  • Where is the repair facility located?
  • What repairs can the local distributor make? At what point does equipment need to be shipped to the manufacturer?
  • What is the expected turnaround time for repairs?
  • If the repair is going to take awhile, are loaners available so crews can keep working?

Waiting a week or more for equipment to be returned after it’s shipped across the country for a repair is unacceptable. You need a quick turnaround time to get your crews back to work. You should be assured that equipment will be serviced as quickly and efficiently as possible with minimal downtime.

The above questions should be answered before purchasing any equipment. Once you own it, the service options are limited. Make sure the service agreement is acceptable, and make sure it’s in writing.

So, you want to buy a CCTV inspection van. If you buy the right equipment, plan properly and provide quality service, your investment can pay off handsomely. Just don’t forget about the additional costs of running your equipment:

  • Employees. Wages and training are a big expense. Two full-time employees alone could equal the cost of contracting inspection services.
  • Maintenance. Although repairs may be infrequent when equipment is new, they escalate as it ages. Repairs can easily exceed 15 to 25 percent of the original cost of the van per year.
  • Insurance, permits and licenses. It’s pretty simple: they all cost money.
  • Tools and equipment. An inspection van carries specialized tools and equipment, everything from gas monitors to computer battery backups. Inevitable upgrades and replacements can translate into thousands of dollars per year.
  • Consumables. DVDs, thumb drives, printer paper and toner, even light bulbs, screws, and many other small parts for the CCTV equipment. It all adds up.
  • Additional inspection equipment. Special crawler wheels for difficult areas and cameras for different types and sizes of pipe all drive up the cost.


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