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  • Roy Strauss

Supply Chain Profitability - Equipment Performance Specifications

What They Are

Performance specifications are a set of instructions that outline the criteria and functional requirements for a particular piece of equipment, hardware, integrated system, or software in an application. Performance specifications should clearly delineate the test methods and the acceptance criteria that will be used to verify and validate compliance with submitted requirements. A specification should clearly define needs in terms of operational, performance and functional parameters including interchangeability and interface requirements. They are necessary for all types of material handling equipment including racking, lift trucks, conveyor and sortation systems, and advanced picking equipment such as A-frame, pick-to-light, or carousel systems. Example, specifications for: rack should include types of rack, height, width, and depth dimensions, weight capacity and uses; for lift trucks should include intended uses, aisle sizes, lifting height, and weight capacity; and for software should include functional requirements, intended uses, number of users, hardware and volume and speed requirements. The specifications should provide flexibility to the vendor to meet the performance criteria without limiting the potential for product selection and/or improvement and/or cost reduction.

Why They Are Needed

Performance specifications are necessary to ensure that the prospective vendors understand the full range of functional requirements for the equipment, integrated system, or software that they are quoting. Proper specifications are essential to avoid low-cost bids that may have attractive pricing but do not meet project requirements. They allow selection of the vendor proposal representing the best value though a comparative assessment of the various bid packages vs. the defined functional requirements and specifications. Proper specifications will allow one to obtain the optimal equipment solution from a qualified vendor, without the cost variations and change-orders associated with improper or incomplete bid submission.

The Process Steps

The basis of the preparation of a performance specification is a final design of a process or operation for which the equipment will be used and a determination of the types of equipment available to perform that operation. A performance specification bid package for vendors who can supply that equipment must then be created. This request for proposals (RFP) process includes the following:

> Preparation of specifications that provide the important functional requirements for the equipment that is needed in the facility.

> A bid response form for the vendors to answer that will ensure that all responses are complete

> Your project manager or designee capable of providing clear and precise responses to vendor questions.

> Clear cut criteria to determine the optimal solution.

> A comprehensive “request for proposal” document is required.

The better the vendor’s understanding of the process and the specification, the more accurate the bid response will be, the easier it will be to compare vendor responses, speed up the selection process, and create an optimized solution. It is important that in cases where answers to one vendor’s questions are critical to the project that they be made available to all bidders.


The use of well-conceived equipment specifications in a request for a proposal will eliminate wasted time, errors, and confusion and will help to insure a successful equipment acquisition and implementation.


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