Bad Temperature Sensors: Not Just the Hardware
There's a huge divide between vendors of temperature sensors, and without sounding too general, the one commonality lies within the quality of the hardware. Aside from small hopefuls, most of the niche players and large vendors can hang their hats on a quality hardware product. Functionality, flexibility, any other business adjectives that begin with "F", you name it, and there's a vendor who promises to deliver on these buzzwords. We've said that all temperature sensors are not created equal, but in the bigger picture, there are many quality sensors available on the market. There are both "good" and "bad" temperature sensors, and the difference between the two does not sit in the hardware or software.
With that said, any promises of flexibility or functionality are necessary sales tactics for attracting prospects, but only represent the tip of the customer iceberg. The "after the sale" relationship is a sensitive collaboration of customer and vendor, in which promises must be kept, needs must be addressed, and most of all, technical support must be fully prepared for any onslaught of concerns or difficulties. In the world of sensing technologies, there are few "bad" temperature sensors, but many larger vendors overlook the value of quality (and timely) technical support. Particularly for sensitive applications (blood banks, vaccine storage, server rooms), a technical support team represents an important link in the customer relationship chain. Even the most well-assured, well-marketed, and seemingly "flawless" product can be brought to its knees without knowledgeable and attentive technical support. For a customer with sensitive needs, a lack of adequate support can be the difference between satisfaction and regret.
Therein lies the true difference between "good" and "bad" temperature sensors. Many of the sensors work as advertised and as promised, can be configured for many custom applications, and are nicely attached to monitoring software. Still, even with the technological attractions, the customer is often left at the checkout with a receipt, a paper bag of products, and the thought of uncertainty. After the sale has been completed, the link between customer and vendor should ideally gain strength. Implementation, installation, and support are "after-the-sale" concepts that are extremely important to maintain a strong and trusted relationship. Although automation products (like temperature sensors) are normally branded with the phrase "set it and forget it", that concept is flawed in practice. Temperature sensors, in both sensitive and casual applications, will require troubleshooting or technical support at some phase in their lifecycle. Customers must have a simple path to begin troubleshooting a problem. Winding back to the vendor, the provision (and implementation) of quality technical support is the primary extender of a customer's lifecycle and indeed represents a true breaking point (if needs are not met). Any "good" temperature sensor becomes a liability with a clunky or unresponsive support team.
We'd admit that our own sensors are well designed, well-made, and flexible, but by no means would we call them flawless (or perfect, but who is?). Technical issues can arise, bugs can be discovered, and software updates are sometimes necessary to fix the "unknown unknowns" of temperature sensor technology. Still, many of our competitors are focused on their products and their prices, and in turn provide little reassurance about their support teams for the customer. Part of our own secret sauce (but don't tell the others!) is our protective, proactive, and knowledgeable support staff. We have solutions experts (with many years of experience in HVAC/R, data centers, and hospitals) to complement our support staff, and these experts work side-by-side with the staff to troubleshoot any arising issues.
A bad temperature sensor, based on the above, is not necessarily one with subpar technology, but one that is not well-supported and maintained. Does your vendor take any issue (urgent or simple) and ensure that it is quickly addressed by the necessary support personnel? Is every call answered promptly, is every request taken into consideration, and is every last support ticket answered? If you're considering a temperature sensor and are having trouble with the vendor variety, remember that while most sensors use 'good' or 'quality' technology, a bad temperature sensor can be the end result of poorly organized and unresponsive technical support teams. Trust is a big part of any business relationship, and the trust and reassurance with a temperature sensor is truly dependent on the quality and prudence of the technical support team, and not merely by features and whistles.