Increasing Workforce Efficiency With Smarter, Easier-To-Use Tools

0807_barbara_hulit
Barbara Hulit, President, Fluke Corporation
It’s no secret to any of us working in industry that significant change is taking place in how we do business and manage resources. Never before have so many industry leaders announced initiatives to become not just leaner, but also greener. To compete globally, industry needs to increase production, lower the cost of doing business and decrease energy consumption. As a result, greater emphasis is being placed on maintenance, which in turn is driving a need for advanced, more sophisticated maintenance technologies.

Our customer interactions and market research confirm that Maintenance Professionals are expanding their test and measurement skills through education and making greater use of technologies that were once considered “too complex.” In some cases it’s thermal imaging used for frontline troubleshooting; in others it might be power quality. By adding new measurement options, Maintenance Professionals can more quickly deduce problems, even those that are highly complex. The result is a significant reduction of downtime and increased productivity in operations and maintenance.

Driving advanced technologies
At Fluke, we are helping to drive the use of these advanced technologies in two significant ways. First, we focus on making smarter tools that are easier to use. Each year we spend thousands of hours talking with and observing industrial Maintenance Professionals. Then, we work with them to take the complex and simplify it; to transform difficult-to-use test and measurement technology into an intuitive tool.

0807_efficiency1Second, we provide extensive educational resources, from hands-on seminars to trainer materials to a library of online application notes. We partner with apprenticeship programs, trade schools, community colleges and universities to champion electrical measurement safety and to donate test tools to education programs of all levels.

Thirty years ago, only bench techs and engineers had digital multimeters. Now they are as common to an industrial technician as a tape measure is to a carpenter. Increased use of variable speed drives led to the development of a combination oscilloscope and multimeter to accurately measure output. Most recently, we’ve seen the market for thermal imagers expand dramatically, with new technology offering accuracy and resolution at a quarter of the cost in just three years. Now, a technology that was once out of reach for most industrial technicians is fast becoming a standard tool that quickly, and easily, detects problems in mechanical and electrical systems.

Energy management opportunities
We also are offering new technologies to help our customers manage energy consumption. New power loggers measure energy consumption, allowing facility managers to re-align their loads and energy usage to take advantage of times when energy costs less. One customer reported an estimated 87.5% savings in the cost of one load. New HVAC and indoor air quality tools similarly allow facilities to reduce HVAC energy costs (often the highest energy consumer in a facility).

Test and measurement tools are also an integral part of new energy resource development—wind, solar, hybrid. The parameters may change, but the need for highly accurate measurements provided by simple, durable test tools will only expand. The course for industry is apparent—those who embrace and celebrate change, will succeed as the global marketplace expands opportunities.

We see tremendous potential in helping people become more efficient in their work, by offering them new, easily available and simple-to-use technologies. We intend to be the indispensable partner our customers continue to rely on.

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