If you already aren’t practicing “bench testing”, I would highly suggest that you start. A bench test, or bench testing, is defined as:

the critical evaluation of a new or repaired component, device, apparatus, etc, prior to installation to ensure that it is in perfect condition.

Perfect is overly subjective but I think we all get the point. Bench testing is trying out new parts to make sure everything is good before we get to the job site. Why would this be beneficial? It can potentially save time, money, and face. I think we’ve all ordered parts for a job, gone to the job site, and found out that something was defective with the new parts. I have at least and I’m not ashamed to admit that. So, we pack everything back up, maybe put the existing part(s) back together (if we got that far before discovering the defective item), explain the situation to the customer, and then start the RMA process. It’s not a fun situation and we should all take measures to prevent it. Bench testing is just that measure.

Bench testing is very, very popular with those who service and install access control systems. After the survey is complete and the quote has been approved, the parts are ordered and we await their arrival before scheduling the job. Upon receipt of the parts, and prior to scheduling, a fair number of companies will unpack each item and do a “mock assemble” to ensure that everything is working as it should be. Some may even take it upon them to begin setting up the software, or as much is as reasonably possible, while everything is connected. Whatever the case, they are bench testing the parts before they schedule and depart for the job. Time is money and we should all take measures to make sure we aren’t wasting it.

Bench testing isn’t just an access control thing, however, it can be applied to just about all parts. Ordering a few Simplex L1000s for stock? Check them in upon arrival and then inspect the locks, parts, and then test their function. Make sure everything is there and everything is behaving as it should be. New BEST 9K locks? Do the same. You don’t necessarily have to mount the locks to test them, a simple “in hand” test should be effective in spotting a large majority of defects. This same principle can be applied to exit devices, deadbolts, and even door closers. If it has a mechanical function, it can be tested prior to placing it on the shelf at the shop or in the truck en route to a job.

Another good benefit of bench testing is to make sure that the parts you receive are the parts they should be and/or they aren’t used. We recently received a large shipment of Simplex L1000s for stock. Upon checking them in we discovered one lock was obviously used. It had wear marks on it and the clutch assembly was actually bent. How that happened I do not know but imagine if we relied on that part for an emergency job? We’d tell the customer “We have the part, we’ll be there shortly!” and show up only to discover that we couldn’t solve the problem that trip. And maybe one of the distributors in town had another in stock but what about rare functions or finishes? They might not. Do you see what I’m getting at?

It’s not enough to just verify that the part number on the box matches your purchase order, you also need to verify that the items inside of the box match it and that they’re functioning as the manufacturer intended them to. If you already aren’t, start bench testing. It can save you a lot of time and a lot of trouble.