Whether a company manufactures jets or ball point pens it constantly faces the challenge of introducing a new revision of a product. Not a new product—that’s easy. New products don’t have “baggage.” Existing products have baggage and we typically group that baggage into one or more of the three categories: form, fit and function. In the industrial sector you can make a really good mouse trap ten times better and the world will beat a path away from your door if it doesn’t have the shape as the old mouse trap or work like it, people won’t buy it. The consumer world is more accepting accepting (except when you screw with the Coca Cola formula). A segment of them, so-called “early adopters,” love shiny new toys. They lead the eventual mass migration to the latest Apple watch, QLED television or Nest thermostat. Early adopters are few and far between in the instrumentation market.
The latest example may be the most telling. Our flagship differential probes, the P60 series, use a 300 Ω NTC thermistor to measure temperature and accordingly correct the pH reading. Why 300 Ω? Because that’s what the first differential probe made by GLI probe used about 30 years ago—long before Hach bought GLI. AquaMetrix’s roots are as the Canadian licensee of the GLI differential probe and, when the patent expired, AquaMetrix (then Lisle-Metrix) jumped the border to sell its differential probe to the U.S. and across the globe.
To this day Hach and AquaMetrix (and a copycat manufacturer to be named only through good Bourbon) continue to sell differential probes with a 300 Ω thermistor. The rest of the world has standardized on the 1 kΩ RTD for pH probes, ORP probes, conductivity probes and—oh yes—temperature probes. It only makes sense that we should make it the standard for our differential probe. This has been obvious for several years but the time to bite the bullet when we were left with one qualified supplier of our 300 Ω thermistors.
Being dependent on one supplier is a bad idea in any business. When that supplier is in Ireland, is free to jack up prices and insists on three-month lead times it’s a terrible idea. Standardizing in the factory and in the marketplace is a good thing. It simplifies inventory management, lowers costs and makes the world of the consumer easier to navigate. We needed to standardize on the 1 kΩ RTD. Starting in January of the new year, the standard configuration of our P60 (pH) and R60 (ORP) probes will be the 1 kΩ RTD.
Does this mean that our many customers who have ordered our “classic” probes with the 300 Ω NTC thermistor must make the change? Not in an AquaMetrix universe! We don’t obsolete any product we make unless we have to. (Either it becomes prohibitively expensive to keep making it or there is no good reason why anyone would buy the old item.) If you insist on the Probe Classic (i.e. 300 Ω thermistor), you can still order them. You just need to add one letter. We haven’t finalized the notation, but that one-letter code is likely to follow the one-letter code that specifies the probe material. For instance, our flagship 1” probe, the P60R-5 likely becomes P60R-5-T for the 300 Ω thermistor or the P60R-5-R for the 1 kΩ RTD.
Stay tuned for the last word on ordering. I promise it will be easier than buying an Apple watch.