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In the Condition Monitoring (CM) world there are two types of instruments: toys and tools. A toy will be defined as an instrument that is used only a few times after it has been purchased. Perhaps it failed or is determined to be too inefficient or insufficient to do the job. The toy is then placed back on a shelf or forgotten in a drawer as it offers no worth to the end user or the company. Sometimes that toy is traded in for a real tool or simply thrown away. On the other hand,  a tool is an instrument that is used extensively every month and offers a real return on its investment. Granted, a tool can be more expensive than a toy, but the amount of money spent on a quality tool should be recouped quickly. In today’s economy money is very tight and a lot of decisions must be made before purchasing a CM instrument. The Latin phrase “caveat emptor” comes to mind when making such a purchase. The internet allows for research to be done quickly on different CM instruments. This allows a potential buyer to discover what is a tool and what is a toy. A few things to consider when purchasing a CM instrument are:
1) How long has the provider been in the industry?
2) What kind of support is offered?
3) Does this support require additional fees to be paid or is it provided free of charge?
4) What type of training is required and available from the provider?
5) Where are any needed repairs performed?
6) Is loaner equipment available when calibration and repairs are required?
7) Can the instrument’s capabilities grow to meet your needs?
8) Does the instrument help us determine the root cause of our equipment reliability issues?
9) What is the real cost of ownership over the life of the instrument?
10) Does the instrument provide the true analytical capabilities needed?

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by Mickey Harp CRL