1.Over-spec.We’ve all been there…more often than not our eyes immediately gravitate toward the brightest, shiniest product on the market. Although there will always be test equipment available with all of the bells and whistles (so to speak), it’s important to fully understand what you actually need this product to do versus what it hypothetically ‘could’ do.

April 16, 2013

3 Min Read
Top 5 Mistakes Made When Purchasing New Test Equipment (plus 2 more)

For example, we recently had a need for an oscilloscope with integrating math functions to determine the energy of a waveform, and we also needed to monitor noise, which required a scope with 500mHz capability. Originally we wanted one scope which met both of our requirements, but when we realized that integration was needed only to 100mHz, it turned out that we could get two scopes for the same price as the 500mHz math scope was going to cost. By knowing our exact requirement, our lab benefitted. We ended up with two scopes for the price of one, and the purchase met all of our needs.

2.Under-spec.

On the flip side, you can also go too far and sacrifice too much functionality while trying to cut costs. If your requirements dictate determining energy under a 500Hhz waveform, then you should be prepared to justify the need and fight for it – in certain instances there is no way of getting around that higher cost.

3.Don’t Spec.

It’s important to research the specifications you are testing to, so that you can be familiar with their requirements and test philosophy. Know what tests you want the equipment to perform in your lab, and what specifications are going to be required of the equipment you are preparing to purchase.

4.Take a Back Seat During the Sales Process.

Of course it's your supplier’s job to come up with specs, but it is difficult for them to fully understand your unique needs if you haven’t done a bit of your own homework first. Any help you can give the purveyor regarding the spec, anticipated usage, environment, and so on will really help you get exactly what you need the first time. Let the purveyor assist, but make sure you have a grasp on what problem the lab is expected to solve. Take the lead!

5.Ignore Tolerances.

Different specifications have different tolerances, which can really throw your procurement ideas a curve. Further, tolerances and specs can skew the price of the equipment significantly. For example, is the supply you are specifying rated for continuous duty? If not, can you live with the published duty cycle? In the case of some gear, prices for the same equipment can vary by as much as 80% because of duty cycle alone. Summed up: tolerance can be a minefield, so be prepared.

6.Ignore Your Options.

It goes without saying, but always ask about the options available for the equipment you are considering. In some cases, you may find a reasonably priced alternative, which still meets all of the requirements needed. Too many people forget this step – and it can make ALL the difference.

7.Forget to Take Advantage of Tech Support.

Every lab contains excess gear that never gets used. It could be that the equipment is misunderstood by its operators or possibly even broken. However, it is a good idea to do an inventory of what you have lying around, and contact the manufacturer’s rep to make sure you are not letting helpful tools go to waste. Not all manufacturers treat after-sales support equally, but it is worth a call to ascertain if this is an option. Repair rates and times vary greatly depending on the manufacturer, but you can always ask about competitive rates and delivery times.

Jeff Lind is president and CEO of Compliance West USA, a leading provider and manufacturer of hipot and ground continuity test equipment for production line and laboratory product safety testing. He an expert in compliance, regulatory, and safety testing, with more than thirty years of industry experience.

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