Dozens of companies sell and install industrial instrumentation, so choosing the right vendor for your needs can be challenging. It’s tempting to fall back on the lowest price, which will always be an important factor, but short-term savings can come back to haunt you.
Ideally, you’ll find a true industrial process control and instrumentation partner who will listen to your needs and be able to provide the comprehensive service necessary to meet them. A single provider that can do everything pays off because in heat treating one service usually brings about another. For example, an upgrade typically requires requalification, which may then require new calibration. A single expert resource can handle it all and help you in unexpected ways at the same time.
Here are some of the top considerations that will help you choose the right industrial instrumentation partner:
A “one-man show” often offers the best price, but that can be costly. One- or two-person operations simply cannot adequately support every client, and no single person has the depth and breadth of knowledge that complex heat-treating needs require. The real costs of these low-cost solutions can become very clear at times when support is needed most. No matter which instrumentation partner you choose, select an accredited one with the necessary certifications to ensure the job gets done right.
A good provider can point out potential audit findings and help you solve them—even if they’re not making money off the solution. They will understand how to implement supervisory systems that save time and money by allowing for remote access and alarm notifications.
Simply put, they will add value. Part of that quality can be seen in an instrumentation partner’s qualifications. Make sure they have a track record of success, and that they have certifications and registrations from reputable sources such as NIST, ISO, Nadcap, AMS and other standard bearers of quality.
Price isn’t everything. Be sure to choose an industrial process control and instrumentation partner that helps you fully understand how a controller performs before investing in it. You may be overpaying for a controller that does more than what you need, or you may be getting a “bargain” controller that doesn’t fully meet your needs. Low initial costs can be very expensive in the long run in the form of non-conforming products or lost production time.
A true partner will look beyond just the instruments and see other areas where they can help you or provide advice. They may have thoughts on other elements of your systems, and comprehensive providers with expertise will help get your processes working ideally.
Proper calibration of equipment is imperative for achieving optimum production results. So find a partner that is familiar with instrumentation offered by today’s leading manufacturers, and has demonstrable calibration procedures that ensure the instrumentation is within acceptable parameters.
Make sure the system is as easy as possible for the operator to use. Easy-to-understand menus and automation reduce errors. A universal system allows the operator to know how to operate everything, all while reducing training, spare part costs and the need for backups. Features like a supervisory system allow a quality manager to view the system from their office.
Good data collection is critical for easily managing audits and retaining certifications. Newer systems can automate data collection and make access to data simple. This is vital for audits and other data needs.
A good instrumentation vendor will work to match your systems to keep you using hardware with which you’re familiar.
These are just some considerations you need to keep top of mind when choosing an instrumentation partner. The best fit will be the one that can meet your needs and budget, and be able to grow with you as your company’s needs change.
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