The test equipment industry changes quickly, not only because technical requirements are constantly evolving but also because the way technicians use test equipment changes – almost as fast as the specs! One notable, steady trend is the growth in demand for handheld devices. New models of handheld test equipment and analyzers from major brands is a promise there are more to come – and it’s virtually a guarantee that more quality used equipment will be available soon, too. Rohde & Schwarz, Anritsu, and Agilent have recently added new handheld additions to their existing families of analyzers. New offerings include handheld spectrum analyzers, network analyzers, as well as 4G and Bluetooth test systems.
The radio communications market is one driving the explosion in the handheld equipment demand. As cellular communications improve and expand, protocols change, test requirements increase, and field technicians are more in demand – therefore, the same is true of the instruments they use.
Also driving demand for portability is the continued proliferation of fiber optic network installations. This exploding market drives demand for test instruments such as optical time-domain reflectometers (OTDRs), which telecommunications and cable TV companies use to characterize and test fibers. A recent report from ElectroniCast Consultants predicts the global consumption of handheld OTDRs will grow at double digit rates for the next few years.
Nathanial Sperka of Used-Line informally polled test equipment deals to learn more about the handheld trend and how it is impacting the used equipment market. Among the people polled was Jimm Hoffmann, executive partner at Instrument Engineers Inc.. Hoffmann had this to say:
Bulky AC powered instruments are clumsy and cumbersome, and may not be adequately protected from the environment. As more applications move into the field, the testing instruments are following. One key area of growth for us has been in the process control and power management arenas where handheld oscilloscopes, power analyzers and recorders have been added to the test tool kits of more technicians. Key brands like Fluke, Extech, and Hioki lead the way in new product introductions. As a result, slightly older, previously-owned versions are available at good cost differentials over new introductions if the customer can live with the older unit’s performance.
If you are considering purchasing handheld equipment for your company and have any questions, contact us so we can help guide you to the right product – new or used. Want to sell an existing tool to make room for some new test equipment? Contact us.