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Labelling…What’s in it for me? Addressing the challenges in choosing labels for both client and contractor.

As Managing Director of UK cable labelling manufacturers Silver Fox, I argue that both client and contractor must pose themselves the key question of ‘What’s in it for me?’ when deciding on the type of labelling to choose.

There is little doubt that on many of the upcoming H2S contracts and projects, the labelling of wires and cables will not be high up on the food chain for many of those engineers involved. In a way, they are correct as the budgets for many of these projects will run into the hundreds of millions of pounds, with labelling only taking up a small fraction of these costs. There is also the misconception that all labels look much the same with either one company just as good as another or the common British business disease of stating:

“Well, we’ve always done it this way…”

However, both client and contractor must pose themselves a simple question before making a decision – that is:

“What’s in it for me?”

A contractor’s role is to do the job as quickly and efficiently as possible to a certain quality and standard.  The client must maximise quality to minimise any ongoing maintenance. This often leads to conflict as contractors always like to use who they know.

For example, the client may specify to their contractor that they require ’Low Smoke, Zero Halogen’ (LSZH) labels. The client will be aware that if the labels have been independently tested and meet all Network Rail approvals then they can be confident of both consistent quality and reliability throughout the project – therefore that’s “What’s in it for them.”

Initially, the contractor may not think that ‘Low Smoke, Zero Halogen’ is that important or that the type of testing carried out by the supplier is vital to them or the project. They just want to get the labels bought and applied.

However, on closer inspection, but by thinking  “What’s in it for me” during this process, they will know that labelling is the last part a project and with a happy client due to the quality and reliability being assured leads to low site maintenance. Therefore this then means the project can be signed off sooner leading to earlier invoicing.


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