The Reliability Files

EP Editorial Staff | August 19, 2011


New Generation Of Smart Meters Lets You Do More With Less

As your workload continues to increase, it’s only right that your tools should do more. That includes your trusty multimeter, which should allow you to carry fewer tools and still get the job done faster and better. 

Agilent Technologies—the world’s premier measurement company—has introduced that type of harder-working tool specifically for you: It’s the new U1233A Handheld Digital Multimeter.


Long-term data-logging is available as soon as you connect your U1233A Handheld Digital Multimeter to a computer via an IR/USB cable (offered separately).

At any work site, you first must determine if live voltage is present. Then, you can set up to measure properly. The U1233A Handheld Digital Multimeter with built-in Vsense non-contact voltage detection makes this easy. By sensing the magnetic field around any live voltage—in HI and LO scales—it helps you establish the safety domain around the work area. The meter also has a ZLOW function to detect ghost voltages, easily eliminating non-energized cables from live ones. One meter does all these jobs.

While the U1233A has 11 functions and 36 ranges—better than most multimeters—it also incorporates fea-tures that used to be exclusive to meters twice the price. It measures temperature, frequency and capacitance and can perform a “test and hold” and store the reading hours and days later. Skip the pencil and paper: The meter remembers readings for you. It’s also capable of periodic data-logging, babysitting and catching of intermittents.

Click the image above for
Agilent’s full-page ad.

And, if you find yourself stuck doing testing at/in a dark corner, the U1230 series Handheld DMM has a built-in LED flashlight to help illuminate the test area, as well as a backlit LED for the LCD display. In fact, the same backlit display will flash to indicate continuity—even if the beeper can’t be heard over ambient noise. That’s more than any other meter can offer.

Beyond the immediate measurements at hand, you may be interested in Agilent’s corporate commitment to bring communication and connectivity to all its Handheld Digital Multimeter product offerings, including the U1230 series. Via an IR/USB cable (offered separately), the meter can be connected to a computer. Long-term data-logging is immediately available.

Using the same connectivity, calibration can be mostly automated, thus reducing the long-term support cost for those plants that require continued valid calibration certification. Agilent’s meters are all calibrated by software with the instrument case closed—no fussing with screws and screwdrivers.

In the near future, Agilent will begin offering an IR/Bluetooth adapter for all its meters, including the U1233A. Wireless connectivity eliminates the cable
tie-down—and the device can be up to 10 meters away.

The hopping-frequency mode avoids most wireless-connection problems in industrial plants. With this technology, remote testing becomes very affordable. Using free, downloadable software, test information can be accessed from a PC, Android phone or tablet. This means the operator can be around the corner or outside a hazard zone at a safe distance. There’s also no need for a tag team (i.e., someone to read the meter and call back so another person can make adjustments based on the readings).   

Return On Investment
Agilent’s new generation of meters lets you do more with less. Extremely smart and well thought-out, they address many  inconveniences that have hobbled maintenance professionals in the past. With these meters, maintenance work is more efficient and productive. Learn more at: MT

Agilent Technologies, Inc.
Santa Clara, CA

Automated Supply Technology: Reducing Consumption, Inventory And Downtime


The local Fastenal store provides the FAST 5000 machine and ensures it’s always filled with needed products.

When it comes to providing workers with MRO and safety supplies, maintenance operations have traditionally had two options:  Leave products out in an uncontrolled area where workers can grab them, or have crib managers or supervisors hand them out. The first option makes it easy for workers to get what they need, but it leads to wasteful usage and makes it difficult to regulate inventory. The second option provides more control, but takes people away from core activities every time an item is needed. (In some cases, that means two people—the worker and the supervisor.) Both options typically involve stock-outs, excess inventory, unnecessary spending, lost productivity and other forms of waste.

Click the image above for
Fastenal’s full-page ad.

Fastenal’s automated supply technology combines the best of each approach—easy product accessibility with usage controls—while eliminating the problems.
The company has implemented thousands of its automated supply machines, known as “FAST 5000’s,” at industrial sites nationwide, providing workers with controlled, 24/7 access to high-use and critical supplies. The machines, which can be set up in a central area or throughout the facility, dispense everything from drill bits, thread locker, gloves and batteries to larger or check-in/check-out items like hard hats, power tools and aerosol cans.

From the worker’s perspective, it is like operating a traditional vending machine, except that instead of inserting coins, you swipe an ID badge or punch in a key code before making a selection. Based on access controls set by management, workers can only dispense products (and amounts) needed for their jobs. And because the system is Internet-based, detailed usage reporting is available online in real time—not only who dispensed it, but also why and when.

The product in the machine is supplied through a fully automated ordering process: When stock for an item runs low, the nearest of 2500+ Fastenal stores receives an alert and comes out to refill the machine. Fastenal also provides machine installation, product packaging, training, technical support and service.

Return On Investment
This solution eliminates purchase orders, stock-outs and inventory costs (Fastenal owns the product in the machine until it’s dispensed). It also improves productivity, since supplies are always immediately available near the workers who need them. But for most organizations, the biggest savings driver is a sharp reduction in product consumption—typically 25 to 35% and often significantly more—as a result of the system’s controls and reporting capabilities.

Because Fastenal provides, fills and maintains the machines, there’s no capital investment involved, so the cost savings go straight to the bottom line.

“We’ve saved about, I would say, con-servatively 60 to 75% over our expenditures from last year,” said Glen Shipman, a purchasing manager at Dakota Missouri Railroad Company. “I don’t have to worry about regulating inventory. I don’t have to look at who uses what and how much. It [the FAST 5000] does it for me. It couldn’t be a better system.”

To learn more, or to arrange a free, on-site technology demonstration via one of the company’s display vehicles, please visit or call 1.877.265.8247. MT   

Winona, MN 




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