Are manufacturers pulling a fast one with back-to-base servicing?
Geotech’s users of environmental monitoring equipment are not alone in their frustration at having valuable equipment unavailable when they require servicing. Is this just a money-making scam? What do users get for their money? By combining maximum possible local support with a 100-point factory full service schedule, Geotech believe they have the best balance of user convenience versus maximising instrument lifetime and performance.
Geotech calibration versus field calibration – why it matters
This thorough understanding of sensor and part longevity, closely linked to usage and backed up by the instrument’s on-board log, means Geotech is able to offer fixed price packages which offer the most efficient possible schedule of parts replacement and calibration. Geotech’s temperature and pressure compensated calibration rig is at the heart of the back-to-factory recommendation. “Many users don’t realise that the calibration we do here, and have to do to ensure any new part will perform optimally, is quite different to the ‘field calibration’ with a gas bottle that users and service agents are able to do”, continues Carl. “Each sensor performs differently at different temperatures and pressures. We calibrate each sensor over several hours in controlled and changing conditions to get the best performance across the conditions on the sensor’s ‘calibration’ curve and to hit the key points for the applications our equipment is used for.”
Tests, tests and more tests
Instrument checks start as soon as analysers are received into Geotech’s service facility. Flow tests, leak tests, battery tests, impact tests, connector tests and all the other 90+ tests ensure they are ready for use back out on site, straight out of the box. One bonus they are particularly proud of is the free firmware update each analyser gets. Since the GA5000 platform was launched in 2012, users have benefitted from over 600 individual improvements, mostly as a response to customer requests. New functionality added through firmware updates includes new data logging options, new languages, a range of user options from ‘expert’ mode to ‘pump and store’ and improvements in COmeasurement in high-H2 environments.
The process comes full circle as the thorough factory service means that Geotech’s instruments can be most effectively supported in the field. “Up-to-date records about sensor life, part replacement and calibration mean we can diagnose any problems quickly and get users up and running again as fast as possible”, comments Senior Technical Support Engineer, Tim Wilson. “Our fixed systems can benefit from this approach as well as the portable analysers, as the heart of every fixed monitoring system is a sensor unit which can be swapped out on site and sent back for a full service. So customers get a more thorough service than is possible in the field, but with no system downtime and at a fraction of the price of an on-site OEM service.”
The GA3000 PLUS ‘hot swap’ of the sensor unit to avoid downtime at service is one way in which Geotech has addressed the primary customer concern, that of being without an analyser during service. Other measures include supply of replacement analysers during service. Geotech has a range of analysers which can be hired while the analyser in being serviced and many of the international service agents offer the same service. Overall, one of Geotech’s main corporate goals is to reduce service turnaround time. The company is currently completing the full 100-point factory service and calibration in around seven days and working hard to make sure this is maintained at all times, whatever the demand. So this manufacturer is certainly doing something fast, but not pulling a fast one.