Eight years ago, Dan Dickerson, who owns Control & Instrument Services in Worthington, Ohio, decided it was time to break from his job at a civil engineering firm, strike out on his own and start his own business. It paid off. Today, Dickerson's firm is one of Ohio's paramount field testing companies.
The bulk of Control & Instrumentation Services business involves water and wastewater treatment plants, servicing all the appropriate instrumentation at each customer, including flow meters, chart recorders, level transmitters, PH transmitters and telemetering devices.
Dickerson has insisted on high-quality work and the use of high-quality tools. "It takes quality tools to produce quality work," Dickerson said.
One of the "reliables" in Dickerson's tool bin is a unique new process calibrator that offers, not only flexibility, but versatility as well, providing automated features. The multifunctional unit calibrates temperature, pressure, voltage, current, resistance and frequency. Since it both measures and sources, Dickerson's crews can troubleshoot and calibrate with one tool.
"In our case, many times out in the field we need to simulate a flow meter to calibrate a chart recorder or to set levels. When we go out to calibrate a flow meter or chart recorder, we'll check the calibrations on the flow meter and read the milliamps coming out of the flow meter. Once we've calibrated that and it's all set, then we'll take it and reverse it and use the simulate mode to simulate full flow through that flow meter to calibrate the chart recorder and totalizer. So, we'll do a ten-minute time test on the unit simulating full flow, and that's how I check the calibration on the totalizer. It's tough, exacting work."
"We needed a calibrator that we could take into the field, accurately do our calibrations, and not have to worry if the readings were right. We found it in Fluke," Dickerson said.
"Until we got Fluke 743B calibrators, we had to lug two separate pieces of equipment with us into the field."
Most of these devices they are calibrating are out in the field and nowhere close to the service van. Therefore, two separate devices for calibration had to be carried to wherever the instruments were. It was time-consuming and cumbersome. A regular digital multimeter was used to read the milliamps coming out and a calibrator was used to generate a flow signal.
"Now we do it all with one instrument. It's a lot easier to handle. We even use it on frequency sound, too," Dickerson said.
The Fluke 743B contains menu-driven display guides that follow the technician through any task. Programmable calibration routines enable them to create and run automated as-found/as-left procedures to provide fast, consistent calibrations. In addition, the instrument allows technicians to transfer the results to a PC that saves the time of having to manually transcribe them when they return to the shop. Soft keys provide one-touch access to other functions such as task lists, scaling, min/max, stepping and ramping, and review memory.
AutoStep allows technicians to set the calibrator for a delayed start and a specific sequence of steps, so it can run unattended as a continuously varying test source. Differential pressure (DP) flow routines use a square root function to directly calibrate DP flow instruments. A built-in algebraic calculator with four functions and square root stores, recalls and performs calculations required for setting up instruments or evaluating data in the field. Dickerson's technicians can use the unit to set the source function to a calculated value with no need to carry a pencil and paper or a separate calculator.
"The Fluke 743B is a god-send for us," Dickerson said. "Not only have we eased our work flow. We've eased the effort with which we can calibrate. High-quality work with high-quality tools - they both lead to better business, and better calibrations."