Using your resources
A complete understanding of the play equipment purchasing process is the best way to ensure a successful new playground project.
Following the process, most play equipment manufacturers recommendations allow a playground purchaser to get design, safety, installation, and maintenance information up front. Most play equipment manufacturers use a sales system involving “authorized sales representatives.” These representatives are usually independent businesses with exclusive rights to market product within a defined geographical area, and many have been in business for years.
Rep firms can supply you with more than just pricing for play equipment. Today’s manufacturers supply a host of services to these rep firms that can help a playground purchaser make a solid educated decision when purchasing play equipment. You’ll want to do your research and use the tools at your disposal.
One of my favorite things that a rep firm can supply you with is a 3D inlay photo of your play area. Take a digital photo of the area where you want to put the equipment, give it to the rep firm, and they will give it back to you with your 3D color playground transplanted onto your digital photo. They even place borders, surfacing, and sidewalks so you can truly visualize your finished project.
Before I get too far ahead of myself in the process, you’ll want to start with a catalog. Almost all manufacturers supply a wonderful color catalog of their products. These catalogs show each individual component and also sample designs of these components put together to build play structures. They also show what colors are available and various color schemes that may fit your area. You can choose one of these pre-designs or pick and choose your own components and colors, building your own specialized play unit.
After you have chosen your equipment, the rep firm will help you layout and design your project so it is in compliance with current playground guidelines. It can also supply documentation if your equipment is ASTM Certified and ADA Compliant. Other services include “top view” drawings that show your decks, uprights, components, safety area and other important information. The manufacturer can supply installation drawings and instructions, so you can be sure of what needs to be done in preparation for a successful installation.
You should also ask for maintenance information so you can be sure of what will be required to keep your investment in prime shape. This will also include safety information that is critical to providing your playground users with the best experience.
Manufacturers also provide many marketing brochures that spell out the special aspects of products. These brochures can help you see what type of “feel and look” your purchase can bring to your playground project.
Rep firms can also lend support with information about qualified playground contractors that supply excellent construction services. You may need a Certified Playground Safety Inspector (CPSI) whom a sales rep firm will most likely either have on staff or can refer you to.
Whether you are an experienced buyer of playground equipment or are new to the process, be sure to utilize the tools and services that manufacturers and sales representative firms provide.
These services can help make the playground equipment purchasing process a lot of fun, but best of all, they can aid you in making smart, well-researched decisions.