Clean Water Magazine - 8 Tips to Get the Most Bang for the Buck When it Comes to Clean and TV Contracts By Todd Taylor

Every sewer district requires regular maintenance on their lines. Some perform this work in-house, while others contract it out to service companies with an expertise in cleaning and televising lines.

Here are 8 insider tips for writing an RFP that will get you the most bang for the buck when it comes to paying for services required on your lines.

1. Disclosure

Every contractor must price to the “unknowns”so they can remain profitable on jobs. The more information that is available up-front will allow the contractor to bid more accurately and not have to account for as much risk.  It is critical for districts to disclose all known issues from past projects where either other contractors or in-house crews have run into delay issues.

2. Provide GIS Maps

By providing a full complement of GIS maps, the contractor can identify all manhole locations when preparing a bid. This saves precious resources where the contractor does not have to price in non-revenue man hours looking for manholes in the field at the on-set of the project.

 3. Don’t Over Specify Equipment and/orQualifications

Many specification documents are written with the help of a vendor who has supplied a certain type of equipment, which may not be required to complete the project successfully.  This scenario eliminates many capable contractors from bidding the project and can drive cost higher.  While specific equipment may not need to be specified, we recommend following the excellent guideline suggestions byNASSCO.  

 Additionally, consider relaxing requirements of non-critical certifications, such as DEQ Wastewater Collection, which have little to no bearing on how to safely and properly operate the equipment used for clean and TV inspections or providing accurate deliverables and typically only drives contractor costs up.  

 4. Clarify “All” Cleaning Details

When it comes to cleaning, the first rule to remember is that nobody has x-ray vision. The two things a contractor will do when faced with fuzzy specification details is to either bid high assuming the worst-case scenario (heavy cleaning) or assume the best (light cleaning) and then submit a costly change order if the actual pipe conditions require “heavy cleaning or cutting”.  It is important to state in the specifications when the last time the pipe was cleaned, define any known problem areas and give as much detail about potential cleaning issues as possible. Specify light or heavy cleaning and cutting per NASSCO specifications as separate line items.  To maximize your budget even further, be sure to specify water availability and the appropriate disposal locations.

5. Separate all items in the RFP

Certain pipe sizes do create different types of challenges for contractors.  When pipe sizes are lumped into broad groups such as 6”-24”, the contractor will have to price to the most difficult size to clean and inspect.  Having accurate pipe sizes, separated by pipe, will allow contractors to price to known efficiencies rather than a worst-case scenario.  Remember, to include all GISand map data in the RFP.

6. Location, Location, Location

Every section of pipe requires a minimum amount of set-up and travel time. Several small sections of pipe across the system may require more drive and set up time, causing inefficiencies with the cleaning and inspection process.  Setup the work assignments for pipes with close proximity to one another.

7. More is better

Contractor must invest a certain amount of time in the bidding and execution of the work whether it’s for a large projector a small project. For larger projects, contractor laydown yards can be found, which can help eliminate extra mobilization costs that have to be accounted for. Additionally, contractors can assign dedicated crews to the project who get to know the system, enabling them to create higher efficiencies in the field.

8. Set a firm project timeline

Contractors must keep their equipment working in order to remain profitable and most have some type of revenue projection at least three months in advance. By knowing the exact starting and finish date for a job, the contractor can price more effectively, knowing they will not be over or under their given capacity.

System owners want and need these vital clean and TV contractor services from outside contractors and in-turn contractors want and need to provide owners with impeccable deliverables. This can create a win-win situation with major cost efficiencies and on-time delivery when the system owner thinks of one simple word while writing the RFP.  That word is“more”.  More information, more detail and more quantity of pipe will create the most bang for the buck for every dollar spent.

Solution – Use a Bigger Truck

Equipment Truck Cost Per Hour Traffic Control Per Hour Hours to Complete Total Cost
Small Truck $180 $50 12 $2,760.00
Large Truck $235 $50 8 $2,280.00

* Increase in time accounts for slightly slower digging, fetching water and dumping more frequently. Rates listed are for comparison purposes only and not based on actual quotes.

Solution – Use a Smaller Truck

Truck Cost Per Hour Traffic Control Per Hour Hours to Complete Total Cost
$180 $50 2 $460.00
$235 $50 2 $570.00

* Since it’s a small task order, dumping time and fetching water is not factored in.