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Hacklab Purchases Policy

Hacklab has a tendency to be very conservative about purchases. This dates from times when we were low on cash and ran on a tight budget. Happily we're in a better place, and our problems are now from under-spending on the lab, it's tools and infrastructure.

This policy clarifies how we spend money, and encourages members to help with selecting and purchasing things to keep the lab running and make improvements. This policy is expected to be revised as required to keep it up to date.

We are no longer at the point where we need to save every last penny, it's far more important to invest in improving our capabilities and making sure we have useful materials to hand for projects.

What does this cover?

All the things we buy, including:

  • new tools, equipment or other “assets”, bigger investment in lab infrastructure
    E.g.: a new table saw, sewing machine, furniture, network switches or even IP addresses. Things classed as Capital Expenditure by bean counters. Unusual large spending, like renovation costs.
  • spare parts to fix existing tools or replace short lived tools
    E.g.: 3D printer nozzles, laser cutter tubes, wire cutters. These are Operational Expenses.
  • things the lab needs to run as normal
    E.g.: dishwasher tablets, blue roll, toner cartridges, tea bags (more Op Ex)
  • consumables to make things with
    E.g.: drill bits, nuts and bolts, resistors, needles and threads (still Op Ex)
  • materials we buy and then resell
    E.g.: 3D printer filament, laser materials, welding gas/stock, Club Mate (stock/inventory)

How do we buy things for the lab?

Depending on the type and size of the transaction, you can generally buy something yourself and then claim the cost back from the treasurer. You'll need to provide a receipt for this, and it may take a bit of time to process. It's often better for the treasurer to actually make the payment using the Hacklab debit card directly, especially for bigger items.

A note on the treasurer: Per our Articles of Association, this is one of the directors and they're charged with running our accounts. Importantly, the treasurer doesn't have any special decision making role on purchases. The role is a practical one of day-to-day handling of receipts and marking purchases correctly in our accounts system so that our books work out at the end of the year.

Making decisions about buying things

In general the directors would like to devolve decision making to Interest Groups where possible. Any purchasing decision emerging from a group discussion will almost certainly be rubber stamped by the directors as the people who decided it will know about the topic.

Big and expensive things

Anything new above £100 should be discussed by the members and authorised by the directors. This is actually very simple, start a conversation about buying this “thing” and get members to agree. These discussions should be had within groups, or on the members mailing list. Once it's agreed, we'll buy it.

The hard bit here is not spending the money, but actually deciding on a thing. It is really helpful if members who know about a topic do some research and discuss the best thing to buy.

Note: It's generally best not to buy the cheapest possible thing. Tools at the lab get worked hard, so it's important we buy quality gear that's rated more for commercial/industrial use than for occasional consumer use. Consider compatibility with existing kit.

Worked example of a decision: Dave wants to buy a new circular saw for £150, he discusses it in the Workshop group. Arnold agrees and he suggests we buy a cordless Bosch. Kristine suggests a Makita model as it works with our existing batteries and only costs a fiver more. People generally agree, so Kryten finds a shop that has it in stock and sends the link to the treasurer to place the order. The lab has a new tool!

Small things, and consumables

The principle is that we'll replace like-for-like with no fuss. If we run out of Stanley knife blades, find a source for them (ideally from our usual suppliers, see below) and then add them to purchases. This page is monitored by the Treasurer continuously so it'll get picked up and ordered soon.

For other small new things that are <£100 - like new hand tools - discuss and then buy it (or get the treasurer to buy it). There is generally no problem here, but it's worth discussing to make sure that we don't already have this, and check if someone else is already buying one.

Shop stock, resell-able materials

We normally have regular suppliers for these, like Hobarts for laserables. Ask the relevant group mailing list about re-ordering. Often it just needs someone to do a stock take of what we have and work out a shopping list for the treasurer to buy.

Orders are a fairly regular occurrence, so if you'd like to suggest new things for us to add to these, and help out managing the orders then join these groups:

Regular suppliers and orders

We tend to buy from a few regular suppliers. Quite often we can bundle things together to get free shipping. For bigger items it's worth having a search around for a good price, but for small things it's not worth the admin overhead of placing multiple orders to save 50p when it's available from a standard supplier.

There is a list of where we purchase common consumables

General suppliers

  • CPC - limited range but generally pretty cheap for small tools and consumables
  • Farnell - wider range, we can get free shipping if ordered correctly
  • FFX - power tools, when well priced
  • Toolstation/Screwfix - fixings, fasteners and workshop consumables
  • Amazon - the treasurer can buy things with Prime for free shipping
  • eBay/AliExpress/Banggood - cheap Chinese electronics tat etc

Specialist suppliers

Make sure to discuss orders with these suppliers to ensure someone is available to take delivery at Summerhall.

  • FH Brundle - metal stock for welding, local delivery available
  • Jewsons Timber - just down from Summerhall on Causewayside, can do local deliveries
purchases_policy.txt · Last modified: 2020-11-08 13:50 by al