What does it mean for your songbird biology research, wildlife consulting or wildlife management project when a telemetry device manufacturer can’t make your timeline?
Lost time can mean, for graduate students in particular, the project may never get completed. Not a strong way to start your career.
If your project is delayed, many grants and programs include terms that result in the loss of funding. Grant writing and program compliance is the key for so much of what you do, enabling the financial and other resources central to project success. You have no doubt spent considerable time and effort developing your project proposal. To let something like the inability of a wildlife tracking device manufacturer’s inability to deliver the quantities you need when you need them would be a huge problem, but it happens.
Why does it happen? We see several instances now where other manufacturers have two big problems impacting their ability to ship what you need- they haven’t licensed the underlying technologies, or they have limited device IDs. That second one means you face a real risk of other research subjects moving into your study location and transmitting wildly inaccurate data to your study. The manufacturer may try to delay your order until other research subjects are, in their view, less likely to be in your study area. Be sure there is no way for limited device IDs to threaten your project.
What This Means for You
If you can’t get what you need in time, you may be forced to delay your project. Many wildlife biologists’ projects are forced to wait until the next season to start. If you are a grad student, this could mean your thesis presentation is significantly delayed or just plain uninspiring. Uninspiring, because you had to choose a less interesting study in order to start on time.
Delays in delivery can cost you funds in unanticipated equipment storage and data charges. If your chosen manufacturer partner can’t deliver on time, you may end up storing the devices, or paying them to do so. Likewise, data charges may continue to accumulate.
In this situation, if you choose another manufacturer, you will need to invest time in understanding their approach, product offerings, pricing, harness or attachment options, power management, etc. Do you have that time at this point? Maybe you will have to make the time.
Delays in the project you are leading could cause other downstream problems. Most importantly among them is how others, who are depending on the important work you are doing, are impacted. Problems that threaten a species or population may go undefined, exacerbating the problem. Remediation efforts may be delayed.
Choosing the right manufacturer includes gaining confidence not only in promised product capabilities, but also in their ability to deliver those products on time, that the products will work as you need, for as long as you need. It also means you have to be sure the devices you buy are reliable, and the data you require is going to be delivered.