Portable DMM Racing Forward, Benchtop DMM Holding On

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These highly-accurate and easy-to-use equipment can be life saving in certain instances. “All manufacturers are making CAT IV multimeters to take care of safety demand,” says T.P. Singh, country manager, Flir Systems India Pvt Ltd, on security parameters.

Vijay Kumar, general manager – marketing, Qmax Test Equipments, supports the argument with, “True-RMS is important in getting precise readings, whereas CAT ratings are useful in assessing the safety with the equipment.”

Multiple testers in a single equipment

“Today manufacturers offer more measurements in a single instrument. Like in the past, insulation tester and thermometer got integrated into a multimeter,” says Singh. Adding multiple measurements into a single device, so that the technician does not have to go for a separate device each time, has been the motivation behind multimeters.

Low cost with thermometer integration

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“Customers with tight budgets now have the choice to upgrade to auto-ranging multimeters that offer the added measurement confidence of true-RMS accuracy,” said Mike Fox, general manager, Extech Instruments, at the launch of EX205T and 210T. These provide measurement capabilities immune to AC waveform distortions and non-contact temperature measurements for added safety on the job. With a built-in IR thermometer, EX210T is optimised with a laser pointer featuring a 4:1 distance to target ratio and a range from -5°F to 446°F (-20°C to 230°C).

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Work efficiency: Handheld or benchtop

Another notable trend is the move from benchtop devices to portable equipment. According to Gil Ben-Dov, CEO, Total Phase, “We believe that you cannot always bring the requirement to a lab, so you must have portability.” The equipment is easy to carry, while providing similar measurements.

The market is evolving from bulky and hard-to-move systems to handheld devices. These devices are adopting the latest safety features and are easier to operate under difficult conditions, hence making these versatile. Singh favours benchtop equipment. He adds, “Laboratory applications still need benchtop instruments and I think the future of benchtop instruments will be there.”

Handheld equipment are certainly attractive as these provide portability. Benchtop equipment, however, have the advantage of higher display count, accuracy, precision and no power restrictions, hence optimum results are obtained.

For certain purposes, benchtop equipment will always have an edge over portable equipment. “Handheld equipment have readings in about 4½ units. This is okay for indicative or sometimes even for measurement purposes. For calibration of equipment, we would require benchtop equipment, as these are more precise with a higher display count,” says Kumar.

He adds, “You might use hand-held DMMs for day-to-day usage, but you will certainly require benchtop equipment with certifications like National Accreditation Board for testing and calibration Laboratories (NABL) for calibration”.

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box 472DMM7510 digit graphical sampling multimeter from Keithley Instruments is a high-accuracy multimeter with a digitiser for waveform capture and a capacitive touchscreen interface. With resolution levels of up to 7½ digits auto-calibration, it offers signal sampling with 1MS/sec, 18-bit digitiser.

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