What are customers asking for in a down market?
The measurement group can at times be required to defer to the project group when profits are plentiful during positive pricing economics. However, when greater efficiency, accuracy and product quality are required to meet management budgets, the measurement department is called upon to carry the load. If a customer is going to shut in a producer due to off spec product, they need to be very confident the analyzer providing the reading is accurate.
The majority of customer requests over the past several months have not been for new analyzer purchases. Our customers are asking us to help validate their existing H2O, CO2, H2S and oxygen analyzers to prove to their management teams that they can rely on the readings.
Pipeline tariffs are getting more stringent on contaminants with potential safety related concerns. This has driven some purchasing activity to meet regulatory standards over the past few years. When being audited, making the call to shut in a producer or rejecting product from a plant, the
analyzer providing the number will be in the spotlight along with the technician that maintains the unit. We are providing the support needed to help these field techs to be confident in the device and their validation procedure. We start at the sampling point and confirm that best practices have been used to deliver the sampling to the analyzer. We run routine diagnostics on the unit itself and walk them through data downloads they should schedule and archive for future reference. We are helping customers setup validation procedures so they can document analyzer health and repeatability. Selection of calibration gas for oxygen analyzers and validation gas for H2S and H2O analyzers have been discussed at length.
Our end users have increased their support demands, resulting in a higher number of requests being submitted to the service group at SpectraSensors. They have been great at making technicians available for phone support and field trips. Kelley Gilberry has done a great job for us in the service training role. We are pleased with how quickly he has learned the analyzers and is able to provide value to our customers. Mohamad Dabboussi has also been very effective as our service manager, in taking our customers’ needs seriously and being available to address and resolve issues. We believe it is vital that the service group continues to attract and retain talented people.
We are seeing issues getting pushed back into the factory technical group and the product line managers are also supporting our customers. It is important for us to be the customers’ voice to the factory to demand the highest quality product they can produce. Feedback and input from our
customers is some of the best R&D and marketing input that we can provide. When there is a decline in new equipment being purchased and installed, the factory and the end users have time to evaluate product performance and reaffirm best practices. It is the role of the reps to facilitate this exchange of knowledge supporting cooperative efforts towards product improvement.
Training is always in demand and we have been fortunate to be able to offer our customers some great learning opportunities. Measurement managers are always looking for ways to get local training on the products they depend on. When we are able to provide this support it helps them to
be more confident and knowledgeable using our equipment. When the market rebounds, we hope to have earned the trust of our end users; we will be there to support our products during times of boom or bust within our industry. Our customers’ needs are different in growth versus declining.