A&D Company, Ltd.
Home Products Company Investor Relations Contact Us Support Sitemap Agent's Folder
What's New Events Editorial World Wide
September 2008
The Fun of Selling Measurement Instruments
This editorial website includes personal
observations by Masa Eto on an array of topics,
from world affairs to business. Mr. Eto is the
managing executive officer of the International Division at A&D Company Ltd.
  ● CASE 1  
   Immediately after we launched our Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) analyzer in the United States in the late 1980's―I was stationed at A&D Engineering, USA, at the time—I received numerous phone calls from engineers in different fields. One day I received a call from a salesman engaged in plant monitoring and I sensed that the person at the other end of the line was an expert in rotating machinery-monitoring applications when he asked, "How many transformers does your instrument have?"
".....?....."  I was a bit surprised by the question. Yet I felt something could be wrong. Usually an engineer would not go through the trouble of calling me to ask such a question since it was totally irrelevant to the instrument’s performance. After a pause, I spoke as if I were about to give him some basic specifications for the instrument. "It is a very compact unit and it comes with a 115 volt AC mains. It can be made into a portable device by utilizing the optional rechargeable batteries."
The guy on the other end said, "I see that but I want to know how many transformers it has."
Obviously he was not referring to the number of the power transformers. How can an instrument like this need more than two power transformers?
Then, he may have sensed that I was not knowledgeable in machinery monitoring instrumentation and said, "It must have a selectable setting."
I had Japanese literature in front of me by then and started searching for a specification that had a selectable setting, "You mean the resolution or sampling points for FFT analysis," I asked.

"That's right."

Thanks I said to myself without uttering a word. "The smallest is 64 points, then 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048 and 4096, and the maximum is 8192." I was sweating a lot by then, but I made sure to get his address before he hung up so that I could send him the literature.
   "Fourier Transform" analysis provides solutions to differential equations that represent physical phenomena and it was discovered by Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier, a late 18th century French mathematician who encountered the French Revolution when he went to Paris to deliver his paper. Fast Fourier Transform is referred to as an instrument performing Fourier transform via numerical calculations by use of a CPU and its application has been greatly expanded because of the FFT’s ease of use.  
   Because of the diversity of the applications, the same parameter is referred to by different names in different industries. For instance, acoustic engineers call FFT "Octave analysis." While mechanical engineers prefer using “RPM” or revolutions per minute and electronic engineers, "Hz" or cycles per second.  
   Moral of the story: Each industry has its own distinct way of naming the same physical properties. If you want to build a reputation as the “go-to person” in the industry, learn its language. It can be a dialect for a particular industry in a country!  
  ● CASE 2  
   During an exhibition in Singapore one local representative was demonstrating our analytical balance. He was so eloquent in describing the specifications for the product and was in essence giving a demonstration in very good salesmanship. Everything was going well until the time came to weigh a very fine material a customer pulled out of his pocket. "What is wrong with the unit? It never gets stable."
"Today it is unusual. The balance is so precise that sometimes magma activity underneath the earth can affect weighing. Today must be one of those days."
"I see. Wao! The balance is so sensitive."
   Moral of the story: a salesman who speaks with confidence may get away with any explanation thanks to savvy salesmanship. What can I say?  
  ● CASE 3  
   "Our bathroom scales weigh to 100 gram accuracy," said the salesman whose company manufactures low-priced bathroom scales, when we visited his company for a possible OEM arrangement.
"How about the temperature coefficients? Do you have a process to perform temperature sensitivity adjustments?" I asked.
"No need," he said. "We have an innovation to make it weigh accurately all the time. Get on the scale again. See it shows the same weight," he continued with pride.
For such a low-priced, crudely made product it works well I thought and wondered whether maybe outsourcing was the only option left for us for such low-priced bathroom scales. "Let me weigh myself again." I pulled a wallet from my pocket and placed it on the desk nearby, then got on the scale. It showed the same reading!
"A customer rarely weighs himself that way. If he does, our innovation works against him."
"What is your innovation?"
"We call it a pull-back function. The scale remembers the value it weighed immediately before the present weighing. If the difference is smaller than 200 grams or any predefined amount, it will show the previously registered weight. This way a customer has the same weighing result no matter how many times he weighs. This is a fantastic function to gain the customer's confidence."
   We thanked him for the demonstration and said that we appreciated their innovation, but we murmured to ourselves that this was what legal metrology defines as cheating. A&D would never do that.  
   Moral of the story: There can be innovations that may sell, but work against accuracy. Repeatability itself is not a sufficient condition for accuracy.  
  You may address any comments concerning this editorial by email to Mr. Eto  
Copyright A&D Company, Limited 1998 ~ 2008    Terms and Conditions   Privacy Policy