Equipment from major manufacturers from around the globe tends to be remarkably similar, opening the possibility of mixing components from different producers in the same system. Many contractors who have equipment from different suppliers regularly mix and match with no adverse effects, but most manufacturers strongly caution against this practice.
If you compare the slabs systems, Mevaflex, Dokaflex, Multiflex and Enkoflex from the major European manufacturers, you will struggle to find any significant difference. All are based on basic components of Euro Prop and H20 beam, with little or no apparent variance in performance or system features, and their components would appear to be highly interchangeable. Add into this mix the large number of ‘component only’ manufacturers that have sprung up over the years and the contractor has unlimited possibilities to shop around to get the best individual component rates to form his ‘hybrid system’.
There are undeniable savings to be made by the contractor by shopping around to get the best deals on components, but there are also some disadvantages that should be considered. For one thing, the major manufacturers offer a great deal of technical support such as design and engineering services which you will not receive when sourcing from separate component suppliers. In addition, the contractors risk is greatly reduced by following the design, best practice and using materials from a major recognized manufacturer. It reduces the risk of incident, and should in theory, provide a degree of indemnity if some mishap were to occur.
Inspite of the support on offer, manufacturers are increasingly being seen as the proverbial ‘Greeks bearing gifts’ by some contractors, and the feeling is that the manufacturers offer assistance in a cynical way to discourage any competition, so they can inflate the price artificially. Many contractors feel they can get all the technical assistance required from the many independent design companies and as European standards apply to most of the components (EN13377 H20, EN1065 steel props)and these contractors are increasingly confident to go it alone. It should be no suprise that tighter margins are forcing contractors to examing their costs and to consider some difficult choices.