The irrigation industry comprises many different facets, from equipment importers, distributors, dealers, contractors and consultants, all providing goods and services to retail, residential, commercial, municipal, golf and industrial sectors of the community.
Generally, any organisation involved in the contracting sector of the industry, will have a knowledge of irrigation design and application principals, which are utilised to provide satisfactory solutions for many and varied irrigation applications, and will continue to do so.
However, the competitive nature of the bidding processes associated with medium to large scale irrigation projects, can lead to compromises in the selection of equipment quality, performance and the deviation from normally accepted design limitations.
In addition, the reality of equipment distributor–dealer alliances, may restrict a contractor and/or designer to the selection of equipment & materials which will result in the compilation of the lowest bid.
Furthermore, where an irrigation project is to be staged, and the future stages do not form a part of the initial project bid, there is no incentive for a design & construct contractor to apply the design resources required to ensure that any future works are adequately catered for in the initial stage of the irrigation project.
Whilst such a scenario would result in a minimal bid being submitted for the initial stage of the project, there is a significantly increased risk of incurring higher TOTAL project costs, due to the requirement of infrastructure duplication and/or system upgrading required to accomplish future stages of the project.
With reference to medium to large commercial irrigation projects which are subject to the competitive bidding process, the majority of professional irrigation contractors whom regularly provide submissions for such work, prefer to offer pricing on pre-designed and specified projects, as they (the contractor) have a clear and definitive scope of works upon which to base their costings, and are not required to factor the labour costs and responsibility associated with the design process
In seeking multiple design & construct proposals, previous experience with such work suggests that every submission received, will be different in many of the various design parameters, from sprinkler types, models, brands, performance, pipe type & sizing, mainline size & location, controls, pump types, bore depths etc.
As a consequence, the project developer is faced with the daunting task of analysing multiple system designs with the view of selecting a system considered best. More often than not, the complexity of such a task results in the selection of a system, based upon capital cost alone.
Whilst a number of organisations operating in the industry provide goods and services across multiple facets of the trade, over recent years there have been an increasing number of firms specialising in individual aspects of the industry, including professional irrigation consultants.
If a project developer has made the decision to utilise the services of a consultant for the design, documentation and administration of a project’s irrigation requirements, it would be in the developers interest to verify that the consultant firm is completely independent from equipment manufacturers and service providers operating within the irrigation industry.
If a consultant has any beneficial interest in a supply and/or contracting firm, or vice-versa, the developer should be aware of the potential ethical implications and conflict-of-interest scenarios.