Should You Take Your Inspections In-House?

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Posted on April 07

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Should you Take Inspections In-House?

The case for taking your remote inspections in-house vs. using subcontractors is really the same case for hiring a lawn service. If you mow your own lawn, you control how often it gets mowed, to what standard and don’t have a monthly pay-out to anyone. However, you need a lot of special tools, and those tools require expertise and maintenance. You’re committing a lot of your time that could be spent on other things to keeping up with a chore. And without a significant investment in both time and effort, you’ll be taking a lot longer on the same chore an expert crew could knock out in far less time. That being said, there is a difference between a lawn and an industrial asset. So let’s delve deeper.

The Case for In-House

For some inspections, it’s better to have a team who knows the specific asset like the back of their hands and it’s doubtful even the most professional subcontractor will know a piece of machinery like someone who deals with it on a more regular basis. Which is not to suggest that outside operators don’t do a thorough job; it’s literally a cause of time spent.

When your inspections are in-house, you have total control over the technology used; you pick the drones, the software—everything. It may be the best inspector for the job (in terms of proficiency) has a system that doesn’t mesh well with yours. There is a security concern as well; outside inspectors will usually need some level of access to your data, if only to dump their files. A completely in-house team keeps it all in the family.

In terms of costs, it’s impossible to speculate as to which is a better use of your operations expenditure. We just mention it here as it is a factor to consider.

The Case for Subcontracting

Obviously, paying outside companies to do work is expensive. But when you consider what you’re getting for that expenditure, it may actually be cheaper (see above, RE: costs). You don’t have to maintain the equipment, train the personnel or buy specialized vehicles to haul drones and batteries around. You don’t have to add another set of regulations to those already governing your operation. 

Your team can focus on results: fixing things noted on inspection reports. Making decisions with the data that flows in from subcontractors. Planning—the data available today is far more consistent than in the past, both in terms of damage severity and categorization. While this is true of in-house teams, with subcontractors you get the juice with far less of a squeeze on your time.

And let’s face it: a lot of inspection work will be passed on to existing teams, as opposed to hiring a brand new crew to manage the work. At best you’ll move veteran personnel to inspections; at worst, that headcount won’t be replaced. With subcontractors, you’re avoiding this problem entirely.

Everyone is on a Continuum

Most plants don’t deal exclusively with in-house teams or subcontractors: there is a mix. The reality is that this is probably the best system. Assuming you have a source-agnostic data amalgamation system, you’re able to function with flexibility, you’ll avoid “data lakes,” as all info goes to one place and you’ll be able to securely transfer information no matter where it comes from.

So the answer to the question from the title is, “It depends, but probably not completely.” The path forward is as wide and varied as you can imagine, allowing for a process that works best for your unique situation: maybe subcontractors do most of the inspections, while your team pulls out the ropes and checks the extent of the issue detected. Luckily, you can decide to adopt this common hybrid method and get the best of both worlds.

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