EVERETT, Wash. — The Fluke Corp. recently welcomed 80 individuals, including trade press editors from six countries, to its Everett, Wash., headquarters for its 2012 press summit. The inaugural event provided an in-depth examination of Fluke’s unique metrology and thermography technology. Attendees toured the corporation’s manufacturing plant, participated in hands-on demonstrations, and listened in on expert panel discussions.

Welcome to Everett

Press editors were greeted at an evening reception by Fluke personnel; keynote speaker Kevin Gobble, sustainable building and design specialist, Habitat for Humanity; and comedian Jon Keister.

“Through this event we want to stress how customers are interacting with our products, and how it is making their lives easier,” said Clement Feng, vice president of global marketing, Fluke Corp. “Our tagline has evolved to be ‘the most trusted tool in the world.’ This is something that we strive to achieve everyday and we’re sure after seeing how things are done around here, you’ll agree with us.”

Gobble has nearly two decades of residential construction experience and has consulted with numerous sustainability building programs regarding best practices. He shared how Habitat for Humanity is using thermotechnology to examine each building’s envelope and ensure that the structures are well-insulated and leak free.

Seattle-based comedian Keister provided jokes and laughter at the expense of Seattle’s flannel-based fashion, its love affair with ’90s music, and, of course, its moist-maritime climate.

What’s New

The next morning, editors sat in on four expert-driven discussion panels. Fluke unveiled three new products during the morning sessions.

Fluke’s Ti100 series of thermal imagers includes five different models. The Ti110 and Ti125 are designed for HVACR professionals and electricians who need to maintain and inspect electrical and mechanical equipment and components. The imagers include Fluke’s IR Optiflex focus system, IR-Fusion technology, SmartView professional IR reporting software, and allow for one-handed operation. The Ti100 series ranges in price from $2,495-$5,495.

“Everybody in this industry has something to do with temperature, as temperature is the second most frequently measured physical quantity next to time,” said Michael Stuart, senior product manager, Fluke Thermography. “This is no longer a $50,000 instrument like it was a few years ago. Once they have them in their hands, this product will allow workers to do their jobs better.”

Fluke’s 62 max infrared thermometers, released in May, are ideal for quick temperature scans of anything from unusual hot spots that signal electrical and electro-mechanical malfunctions to undesirable air intake/output patterns in a building’s envelope. Because infrared measurement does not require surface contact, technicians can make measurements from a distance — away from moving machinery or live electrical connections. The Fluke 62 max thermometer is now available for $99.95-$129.95.

“This device is well-suited for residential applications,” said Paul Heydron, senior director of engineering, Fluke Corp. “Maybe you don’t buy a thermal imager for your house, but you buy this thermometer, which is more affordable and gives a quick and accurate reading, identifying any discrepancies.”

Fluke’s final unveil was the 805 vibration meter. The handheld meter features a unique sensor tip that minimizes measurement variations caused by device angle or contact pressure. This reduces operator error and improves accuracy and repeatability of quick vibration screening. The device will be available this month for $1,799.95.

Tours and Try-outs

Editors spent the afternoon and evening hours participating in numerous breakout sessions stationed throughout Fluke’s worldwide headquarters. Visitors received an up-close look at Fluke’s assembly line, and how each intricate device is carefully and skillfully assembled. Following assembly, each piece of equipment is rigorously tested — enduring sound, frequency, temperature, water, dust, voltage, vibration, and other rounds of testing — before being dropped six times from 3 meters in height. Following successful diagnostic and drop testing, a unit is finally deemed market-worthy and is added to distribution.

Editors were also engaged through a motor demonstration, an infrared HVAC demonstration, a hands-on thermal and vibration lab, and more. Experts at each station provided explanation and answered questions.

Thermography and the HVACR Industry

In many cases, infrared thermography enables maintenance to be carried out prior to a complete system breakdown, reducing equipment downtime and profit impact. Imagers are commonly used by HVACR contractors to identify poor radiator circulation, air leaks, poor mechanical performance, temperature distribution, and more.

The Snell Group of Barre, Vt., a Fluke customer that performs infrared thermography consulting, instruction, and training, believes thermotechnology may soon become a necessity in the HVACR industry.

“HVACR contractors are generally very cost conscious and because the prices of these units have dropped so drastically, the devices are much more affordable,” said Jim Fritz, CEO, Snell Group. “HVACR offers a number of thermal processes, whether it’s air movement flow, diffusers aimed incorrectly, or cool surfaces, these devices allow a quick, efficient, and accurate reading on what the problem is and where it is occurring.”

Roy Huff, vice president, The Snell Group, said HVACR contractors may also want to consider Fluke’s latest vibration tool.

“These vibration meters are great troubleshooting tools,” he said. “Fluke unveiled this new contact method — and I’m sure they’ve patented it — that allows more than one person to take the same vibration reading on a device. Previously, results would never be the same as one person was likely to push harder on the measuring device, or take the reading from a different position. This recording method is great for a company that has a handful of people gathering measurements.”

Fluke representatives are confident that increased awareness, and decreased prices, will help land many of Fluke’s latest products into the hands of HVACR contractors worldwide. “People have been waiting for the right tool to come out at the right price. This market is exploding right now because there are so many applications out there,” said Stuart. “Our goal is to make thermography more accessible to the everyday person. We want to remove the barrier holding this technology down, because with the right tool and knowledge, amazing things can be accomplished.”

For more information, visit www.fluke.com.

Publication date: 6/11/2012