Factory Vs. Field Integration

When purchasing virtually any enclosure, communications companies must choose between factory and field integration of components.

Before going any further, let’s look at what each type of integration is.

In regard to telecommunications and networking enclosures, factory integration refers to when the enclosure manufacturer installs components at the factory before the product is wrapped and shipped. With field integration, the service provider is responsible for scheduling a professional technician to come out and install their components at the enclosure site after the cabinet or shelter has been set up in the field.

Is one better than the other? Let’s delve deeper and find out by looking at the main differences between factory and field integration.

Differences Between Factory and Field Integration

Quality

For the sake of this article, we won’t focus on the quality of the actual components. Whether the manufacturer or the service provider purchases the components, the quality isn’t likely to be different as long as both do their due diligence and purchase a good component from a reputed vendor.

What does change from factory to field integration is the quality of the installation.

At the manufacturing facility, team members are trained specifically on how to install the available component options into the enclosures. They know what components will fit the enclosures and how to install them. In addition to their training, those same team members gain more and more experience by doing the same installations over and over again­–they become experts in how to properly install those specific components into those specific enclosures. This repeatability helps ensure the components are correctly integrated every single time.

Repeatability also creates consistent enclosures, which is a big plus for organizations purchasing multiple units at once. Years down the road, this will make servicing multiple enclosures much easier as they’ll all use the same parts/components, and when a technician “learns” one, they’ll know them all.

In the field, communications organizations run the risk of deploying a technician to the field to install a component they’ve never worked with before, possibly even on an enclosure they have no experience with. An experienced installer should be able to handle the installation anyway, but some less-seasoned techs might encounter issues.

Another thing that affects quality is the environment. In the factory, workers install components in a controlled setting that allows them to focus on the installation without worrying about factors like the weather, air quality or wildlife. In addition, they can install those components at any time instead of dealing with delays caused by inclement weather.

Many manufacturers, including American Products, operate ISO 9001:2015 manufacturing facilities. This means those organizations follow guidelines set down by the International Organization for Standardization to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements. It’s just another assurance that factory integration elevates quality further.

Testing is another area where factory integration wins over field integration. At American Products, for example, trained technicians and quality assurance professionals test the enclosure components before shipping. If there is an issue, they can easily fix or replace the problem part, test again to confirm and prepare the enclosure for shipping. This helps ensure that when the enclosure reaches the site, all the components are functioning properly.

In the field, the technician can test the components after installing them, but what happens if they determine a component isn’t going to work? The telecommunications organization won’t have a functioning enclosure until the technician is able to secure a new part and install it. In addition, it can be much harder to test componentry correctly while competing with the weather.

Verdict: Factory integration helps assure enclosure and component quality by providing skilled workers the ability to integrate parts in a controlled, clean environment. It also allows for better testing and helps ensure components are functioning properly when the product is shipped.

Cost

Some might think field integration would be cheaper because the telecommunications organization can shop around for the best component prices and installation rates. But in reality, that’s not often the case.

Enclosure manufacturers can often negotiate better prices because they work directly with the component manufacturers or vendors, not a smaller reseller who depends on a higher mark-up to make money. In addition, enclosure manufacturers have a lot of buying power due to the vast number of enclosure units they build in a year. Because they can buy common components in bulk at once, they can negotiate better prices than an organization buying one or two components at a time.

When the manufacturer integrates a component, the customer is billed–as part of the entire invoice–for the component and the labor, which is set at predetermined, consistent levels based on that enclosure and component. That’s it.

But, those who opt to have the component installed in the field could end up paying truck roll/travel fees (at least one, but possibly more if the technician needs to make multiple trips), component costs, tool and parts costs, overhead fees and labor fees that vary depending on how long the project takes and how experienced the technician is. Depending on the enclosure’s location, the organization could be paying more as well due to distance and accessibility.

Verdict: Unless the organization contracts a technician for a set, agreed-upon fee, they could end up paying a number of costs they could have avoided by choosing factory integration. In addition, depending on the project, the total cost for installation could be an unpleasant surprise, whereas with factory integration, the fees are set and conveyed ahead of time.

Logistics

When an organization purchases an enclosure with factory-integrated components, they only work with the manufacturer. The manufacturer then handles the logistics involved with the enclosure, including procuring the componentry, scheduling installations and often even scheduling delivery. The customer doesn’t have to do much at all.

If the telecommunications organization would prefer to install a component in the field, they’re responsible for all the logistics themselves. So, after the enclosure is delivered, they then need to procure the component, hire a technician or schedule one of their team members for the install and schedule any other follow-up trips.

In addition, factory integration helps ensure all parts are inventoried and ready to go ahead of time, which helps keep projects on time.

Verdict: Once again, factory integration is more convenient and easier for the customer.

 

In summary, factory integration provides a higher quality integration at cheaper costs and in a more convenient and timely fashion than field integration.

At American Products, we offer turn-key enclosure solutions with factory-integrated componentry for the telecommunications and networking industry. We have a team of integration technicians, quality assurance specialists, engineers and more who are trained to design, build and integrate a variety of enclosures and component solutions.

Contact the American Products specialists at 417.323.6312 to learn more about our turn-key enclosure solutions.

All content on this Site, including but not limited to text, graphics, logos, icons, images, audio, designs and video, is the property American Products and its affiliated companies and is protected by United States and international copyright laws. Use without express permission is strictly prohibited.