The Difference Between Accurate and Precise in Test & Measurement: Interview with Kelvin Hagebeuk


Roland R. Ackermann, Correspondent Editor, Bodo's Power

In this interview, Roland R. Ackermann met with Kelvin Hagebeuk, Marketing Manager of Test & Measurement for Yokogawa Europe. They discussing Yokogawa's test and measurement products, philosophies, and where the company is headed next.

 

Kelvin Hagebeuk, Marketing Manager: Test & Measurement, Yokogawa Europe

 

Roland R. Ackermann: Please give us a short overview of Yokogawa's test and measurement department and its position in the market.

Kelvin Hagebeuk: In 1915, Yokogawa Electric Corporation was established to manufacture the first electric meters in Japan and, as the foundation of its business, measurement remains an important and valuable division.

Today, Yokogawa’s test and measurement business provides high quality, reliable measurement solutions across the globe. It offers a wide product portfolio from compact, entry-level power meters to the world’s most accurate precision power analyzers.

Yokogawa’s test and measurement business is positioned in the market as a strong, reputable organization that understands the needs of scientists and engineers. Yokogawa takes pride in its reputation for quality and level of service it provides to clients. Key industries for us include automotive, telecommunications, energy generation, sustainable energy, and transportation. These industries demand high-accuracy and precision measurements, along with stability and reproducibility.

 

RA: What is your company philosophy?

KH: "Quality first, pioneering spirit and contribution to society." This philosophy conveys Yokogawa’s founding principles and social mission and sets out the values that guide the actions of its people.

Governing its corporate activities, these principles aim to ensure Yokogawa continues to live up to the ideals of its founders. As a company, its goal is to contribute to society through broad-ranging activities in the areas of measurement, control, and information.

 

RA: Why do you think—as you claim—Yokogawa Test & Measurement is the world’s most trusted measurement partner?

KH: Yokogawa’s test and measurement business is the world’s most trusted measurement partner because it has pioneered new technologies and kept abreast of evolving standards used in the measurement industry.

Our team of highly experienced and dedicated engineers has positioned Yokogawa’s test and measurement business as the leading and unmatched measurement partner. We believe that precise and effective measurement lies at the heart of successful innovation and we have focused our R&D on providing the tools that researchers and engineers need to address challenges great and small.

 

RA: You make a distinction between accurate and precise. What do you mean by that?

KH: A measurement system can have multiple scenarios: accurate but not precise, precise but not accurate, accurate and precise, or inaccurate and not precise.

It is only when a measurement system is considered both accurate and precise is it valid and fit for purpose. If you measure once and are very close to the known standard you are accurate. If you can do it repeatedly to the same closeness over a period of time your instrument is precise.

We are known for being ‘precision makers’. By that we mean we are committed to making the most reliable instruments that operate with the highest level of certainty in the readings taken over their lifetime.

 

RA: What is your product and service portfolio composed of and what are your top priorities at present and in the future?

KH: Our product and service portfolio is composed of precision power analyzers, data acquisition systems (including ScopeCorder), oscilloscopes, data loggers, handheld measurement devices, and optical test equipment.

Our top priorities include the recent groundbreaking next-generation WT5000 Precision Power Analyzer. The WT5000 is the world’s most accurate precision power analyzer and the first of a new generation of precision power analyzer that offers exceptional measurement accuracy of ± 0.03% combined with stability, noise immunity and plug-in modular flexibility. This product has been developed to meet the measurement needs of today’s developers of energy-efficient systems.

 

Yokogawa WT5000 precision power analyzer

The Yokogawa WT5000 precision power analyzer. Image courtesy of Yokogawa.

 

WT5000 has a flexible, modular design which has been developed as a long-term solution. This versatile and adaptable platform adapts to changing markets and specific application requirements. Yokogawa continuously keeps ahead of market requirements which include increased switch frequencies of power conversion devices and the requirement to build efficient and effective products.

 

RA: How is the measuring instrument market developing overall?

KH: There are a number of factors that are driving the development of the measuring instrument market. These include governmental and social pressures, which are increasingly demanding new solutions that are more efficient at using energy.

Both the automotive and energy industry are key markets looking to address these environmental issues with effective measurement instrumentation solutions. In the pursuit of improvements, engineers require more precision and certainty. They are also looking for solutions that can replicate laboratory conditions in the field. New technologies such as 5G are also demanding more and more accurate measurement data.

 

RA: Expanding on my previous question, where within this market do you see your position and your particular strengths now and in the future?

KH: Yokogawa T&M is positioned as the world‘s leading and most trusted provider of quality measurement solutions. Its instruments are renowned for maintaining high levels of precision and for continuing to deliver value far longer than the typical shelf-life of such equipment.

We believe precise and effective measurement lies at the heart of successful innovation - and have a research and development program headed by a team of researchers and engineers who are addressing these challenges. Our particular strengths are in quality, both in terms of the products delivered, and the level of service and advice provided to clients.

In addition, Yokogawa has its own European standards laboratory which is the only industrial (i.e. non-government or national) organization in the world to offer accredited power calibration, at frequencies up to 100 kHz. Yokogawa has achieved ISO17025 accreditation which further demonstrates the competency and capability of its laboratory.

 

RA: Which market segments are the most demanding drivers for measuring instruments? 

KH: All market segments require ongoing and continual improvement in efficiencies as quality and performance are a prerequisite in many sectors.

The measured value must be reliable. It is not acceptable for a measuring instrument to measure only on given days. It must obtain the same value over intervals of time, regardless of the environmental conditions it must endure.

In respect to automotive, a big drive for manufacturers who are developing E-drives is reducing the effective powertrain loss, currently at approximately 10-20%, which will increase the efficiency and therefore the range of the vehicle.

Yokogawa helps engineers to develop individual components that are more efficient, and which collectively create a complete system that has high performance and achieves the highest possible efficiency. Understanding these efficiencies and performance requires access to accurate, stable and precise measurement data.

To achieve some of our goals, instruments will need to take measurements across many different vectors. As an example, in the case of an electric vehicle, being able to characterize the performance of each propulsion motor at the same time is key to understanding the performance of the overall systems and not just the individual motor.

 

RA: What is driving the development of measuring instruments? Technological complexity, efficiency, automated test runs, measuring speed? Or is it smaller and higher integrated electronic components and sensors, big data, increasing accuracy demand, bandwidth to transfer ever more data over the air, higher frequency ranges? Or user-friendliness?

KH: Looking at the development goals for the WT5000 there were three key areas:

  1. Reliability: Reliability is a key requirement, in particular, the ability to produce accurate and stable measurement data over a prolonged period of time. Trust in this data must be achieved.
  2. Versatility: Market requirements continuously evolve. The flexible architecture of the WT5000 enables us to be versatile and flexible within ever-changing market requirements.
  3. Simplicity: The WT5000 provides ease of operation with features such as a touchscreen display. So whether a user has worked with power analyzers for years, or they are a new engineer, we provide ease of use and excellent functionality.

The latest semiconductor developments are enabling faster switching speeds. This generates higher frequency content which requires wider bandwidth for power measurement. In our European standards laboratory, we provide ISO17025 accredited calibrations for power analyzers up to 100kHz.

 

RA: Are customers required to buy software options, or will SaaS become increasingly important?

KH: There is an expression that 'software is eating the world'. At the instrument level, we see a trend for future instruments whereby new analysis features will also be made available as software modules. At the same time, instrument hardware will become more flexible and modular allowing for one instrument to be quickly configured for different tasks extending its operational envelope. Together they provide not only flexibility, but a more cost-effective way of configuring an instrument with the exact requirements. In respect to SaaS, we do see a need to collect data from multiple instruments so we can carry detailed analysis on the conditions detected. This may be a complex system, large facility or even globally.

 

RA: Are you striving to minimize hardware, especially the mechanical overhead, e.g., by eliminating connectors and backplane?

KH: Precision hardware will continue to be important in ensuring our customers have reliable data. We continually review what is required and make sure our products deliver, whilst being aware of the need to minimize hardware. Yokogawa continuously reviews its product portfolio to ensure products deliver accuracy with maximum stability. If this requires certain hardware to achieve this, we will utilize it.

 

RA: Do cloud-based solutions, and in the near future 5G, play an important role in this context?

KH: As 5G transitions from standard development to implementation, networks need to make sure they deliver the potential we are all expecting for the next generation of fast mobile communications. This will not only be in the main infrastructure, but any pieces of equipment connected to it will need to be certified.

In respect to measurement, the compliance measurement setups will need to be taken into the field which requires new high precision and accurate portable instruments.

Not only do we provide the instruments to accurately measure the network hardware (power analyzers and oscilloscopes) we also offer a range of Optical Time Domain Reflectometers (ODTR) for checking the fiber connections that form the backbone of the network. Yokogawa also provides high-end optical measurement equipment, such as Optical Spectrum Analyzers (OSA), which has enabled the development of next-generation optical communication network components used by telecommunications suppliers.

 

RA: What will the price development look like?

KH: Yokogawa provides customers with state-of-the-art products and solutions which enable them to develop efficient, high-quality systems. These systems can be used today, tomorrow and into the future. As a result, customers receive value for money and a competitive lead in increasingly competitive markets.

Source: Bodo's Power Systems, November 2018