Companies that only a few years ago might have considered construction cameras merely “nice to have” on the job site are hearing more and more about the value and efficiencies they can bring to projects. There is, however, a void that needs to be filled in understanding what goes into an effective construction webcam system. Without that, it’s difficult to comparison shop for a system that cost-effectively delivers the benefits and value you expect. Along with the camera and equipment, it’s essential to consider service, support and pricing options in order to understand what you are getting and the true cost of ownership.
The Camera and Equipment: Making sense of the huge price range
Hardware solutions – the construction camera and necessary equipment – can come with price tags ranging from $2,000 to as high as $20,000. Much – but not all – of this range reflects differences in equipment. For example, a 12-MP camera will cost more than a 6-MP camera. Likewise, a PTZ camera will garner a higher price than a fixed-position construction camera. If a job site requires a solar-power solution, factors like the geographic region of the project and the number of hours you want to power the camera can increase cost anywhere from a few thousand to more than ten thousand dollars. Even a specialized mount, if needed, will add to the cost.
When comparison shopping, it’s important to know what each price tag gets you. Does the construction camera come with the equipment you’ll need to install it at the job site or will you need to purchase those items separately? A construction camera with a higher price can actually cost less if it includes all hardware and shipping.
Now let’s say you’re making an apples-to-apples comparison. You’re looking at two 12-MP fixed-position construction cameras – both come with all hardware and free shipping. Don’t assume that the one that costs less is the better deal. Look at the camera warranties. The quality and duration of the warranty will tell you something about both the ability of the camera to stand up to job site conditions and the level of support and service you can expect from the company.
Monthly Service: Cost factors and pricing options
Here, again, there’s a pretty wide range, determined in large part by the resolution of the camera and the rate of image transmission. At the low end of resolution and longer intervals between image transmissions, monthly service will typically run between $200 and $450. At the higher end, the range is between $500 and $900 per month.
Some companies, however, might offer different pricing options that favorably impact the cost of service. For example, you should explore whether there are prepay discounts or lower rates for extended contracts. And if you plan on using construction cameras on multiple projects, it’s always wise to find out about any discounts for bulk or enterprise accounts.
Customer Service and Support: An indirect cost
You won’t find this itemized on an invoice, but you do pay for it one way or another. So, all things being equal for equipment and data transmission service, what does a significant price difference tell you? Saving upfront on the camera and data service could mean you sacrifice responsive customer service and support when you need it. On the other side of the coin, when paying a premium price for the camera system, you should expect that it comes with excellent customer service and support for the life cycle of all your projects.
Gauging Service and Support: What to look for before you buy
Any experienced construction camera provider should know the details of your project before offering a solution. In order to give you a meaningful price quote, they will need to understand the size and scope of your project, potential mounting locations, and other variables and should request a site plan and the job site location. Only with this information will they be able to put together a solution that’s right for your project.
Like the camera warranty, a company’s policies for camera replacement, upgrades, and relocation to a new job site lend insight into the quality of both the equipment and customer support. Overlooking or not understanding any of these can lead to unexpected charges and fees that significantly increase the overall cost of owning and operating a construction camera. So, always look beyond the camera itself when you’re pricing systems and make sure you’re seeing the full picture.