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What has to be considered when selecting test and measurement equipment for industrial applications? What are the decision-making factors, what are the upcoming major trends?
HBM, in cooperation with consulting company Dr. Voeth&Partner, has conducted an extensive market study that focused on international opinion leaders in industrial automation. The study applied the Conjoint Analysis approach. This analysis asks participants to classify and evaluate specific "packages of advantages".
Special analysis methods are then applied to very precisely derive from this classification the features and characteristics that have particularly high priority in a purchase decision.
A first, surprising result of the analysis: When selecting an industrial amplifier system almost all users take into account a great many decision-making criteria - up to 16. This means: Selecting an industrial measurement system is a complex task and requires high involvement of the decision makers. However, it also underlines the importance of test and measurement equipment in production systems and test benches.
The study subdivided participants into two groups: one group was questioned about systems with low channel counts, the other one about systems with medium to high channel counts. The survey included representative industrial customers from the EU, the Americas and Asia. Due to the different markets' heterogeneity, both the validity and the consistency of the participants' statements were verified prior to identifying the representative sample.
Though the fields of applications vary widely, three significant trends have become visible among decision makers responsible for choosing test and measurement equipment for industrial applications:
This is a clear statement: The precision of industrial amplifier systems is key to all participants. The more precise the measurement data acquired in machines and systems is, the more likely the data is reliable and significant. Hence, the high test and measurement standards already found in research and development, for example in precision test benches, now also can be applied in industrial applications.
The availability of automation interfaces to established and new standards in automation technology is nearly as significant to industrial amplifier systems as precision. Industrial amplifier systems increasingly need to perform additional distributed control and complex analysis functions and therefore need to be optimally integrated into the systems.
Test and measurement equipment plays an increasingly important role in testing and production. Quality requirements for test and measurement instruments are correspondingly high. The study clearly shows that, particularly in industrial applications, brand quality and test and measurement know-how are what matters: A large majority of users clearly prefer measuring instruments from a renowned test and measurement manufacturer offering a global sales and support network over, for example, local companies or mere component suppliers.
These trends also clearly show the KO criteria, i.e., when a measuring system would no longer have a chance to be selected for an industrial application:
KO criteria resulting in the rejection of measuring systems with low channel counts:
- Insufficient precision
- No measuring input for quantities such as force/torque/pressure/displacement or other standard signals
- No state-of-the-art automation interface to enable easy integration
- No application advice
- Low signal bandwidth
The "HILCA" conjoint method developed by Prof. Voeth has been refined by the Department of Marketing at Hohenheim University in cooperation with GfK (German Society for Consumer Research) and McKinsey management consulting to obtain Conjoint Software for use in practical market research; it has been presented with the 2008 innovation award of German market research by BVM (Federal Association of German Market and Social Researchers). Prof. Schwaiger of LMU (University of Munich) honored the development of HILCA as "exemplary research for (market) research".
In 2012, HBM in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Voeth&Partner has, for the first time, carried out a scientific study based on this new approach focusing on the global test and measurement market.