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Beyond the Basics: What’s happening at Fluke?

Recent newsworthy items…

August 2013

By Chuck Newcombe

Fluke CNX™ Wireless Test Tools

Fluke CNX™ Wireless Test Tools »

Since I retired in early 2005, it's been more difficult for me to keep abreast of Fluke activities on several fronts, so I regularly check out company press releases, among other sources. The 2013 press releases, available on the company website, provided some interesting results for my consideration.

Product announcements are among the items found, as one might expect, but I was pleased to see that Fluke is faring well in being recognized by its customers for innovative product introductions. Examples include the Plant Engineering Product of the Year Awards at the beginning of the year. According to the press release, "the Fluke® Ti100 Series Thermal Imagers took the Silver Award and the Fluke® 430 Series II Power Quality and Energy Analyzers received the Bronze Award."

For the second year in a row, the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) has honored the industrial design team at Fluke Corporation with an International Design Excellence Award (IDEA®), the premier international competition honoring design excellence in products, ecodesign, interaction design, packaging, strategy, research, and concepts. The Fluke team won a Bronze Award in the Commercial and Industrial Products category for its work on the Fluke 805 Vibration Meter.

Fluke Ti100 General Use Thermal Imager

Fluke Ti100 General Use Thermal Imager »

Fluke CNX™ Wireless Test Tools have been named the EC&M 2013 Gold Product of the Year. The award was chosen by the readers of EC&M from the Product of the Year category winners, which were announced in March. CNX Wireless Test Tools were named a category winner in the portable test and measurement equipment category.

Temperature and thermal imaging

The Ti and TiR thermal imagers got my attention early last year, and I wrote a column about them as the culmination of Fluke's activity in temperature measuring tools over a 36-year period. As I pointed out then, Fluke has been active in the thermal imaging market for about 10 years now, and to be recognized as a leader in the market by the readers of Plant Engineering is both a well-deserved honor, and a credit to the marketing and engineering folks that made it all possible.

Not resting on their laurels, the Temperature group at Fluke just introduced the lowest-cost combo thermometer/thermal imager, designated the VT02. I suspect that feedback from early users will lead to further products and product improvements in this line.

Fluke VT02 Visual Thermometer

Fluke VT02 Visual IR Thermometer »

Power quality tools

I also mentioned the 430 Series II instruments in a column last year, as the 434 and 435 were introduced. These products added the ability to quantify the costs of electrical power quality problems in an answer to customer requests for information concerning the costs of various power quality problems. I remember receiving requests for that ability as early as 1994. Apparently the word is out. To get the Plant Engineer Bronze Award in just one year since introduction of a tool that does just that speaks well for Fluke's ability to ultimately meet the needs of power quality professionals, even if it took a while to get there.

Wireless network systems

Another subject dear to my heart, the Fluke CNX tools introduced last year (I described them seven months ago in my column dedicated to wireless network systems), came to the attention of the readers of Control Engineering in their Engineers Choice Awards last November. Here's how the magazine summed it up. This is another product that we were thinking about over 10 years ago. As I pointed out in my column, it just took a while for the advance in technology to make it practical.

Fluke 434 Series II Energy Analyzer

Fluke 434 Series II Energy Analyzer »

Fluke has just completed a contest that pits users of CNX against one another as they identified the uses they found for these innovative products. I'm sure I'll be surprised, as I often was during my career, with the innovative uses Fluke customers find for the wide variety of tools the company offers.

Process calibration

The press releases also announced a new Fluke process calibration tool offering analog current loop calibration with HART digital communication features. I predict that the models 709 and 709H will find their way to recognition by readers of industry magazines similar to those described above in the coming months.

What's next?

Reading accurate results for the resistance of earth grounds can be a daunting task. Consider the fact that dc currents are always present in the ground when moisture, and a mix of minerals and organic compounds, can and will create batteries and galvanic action. In 2008 I wrote about the use of the Fluke 1621 Earth Ground Tester to sort out some earth ground rod and electrical panel bond resistances, accounting for these dc currents that can otherwise lead to serious measurement errors.

Fluke 709H Precision Loop Calibrator with HART Communications/Diagnostics

Fluke 709H Precision Loop Calibrator with HART Communications/Diagnostics »

You may have seen a survey in the July issue of Fluke News Plus asking for your input on the subject of earth ground testing. I hope that you who are interested in the subject responded, because I suspect that Fluke engineers will take your responses to heart as they consider upgrading or replacing some already excellent products.

The challenge for the engineers is to develop instruments that perform and document the most accurate tests quickly and easily, with as little disturbance of the existing grounding systems as possible. With the technologies available today, I'm confident we'll be pleasantly surprised by Fluke's next offerings in this field.