Modernizing a Proven, Highly Valued Design

When I was at Emerson’s Micro Motion facility in Boulder last week, I had a chance to meet product line business manager Tonya Wyatt. She recently did a quick video for the Micro Motion Online Community to announce a new transmitter with multi-variable digital (MVD) technology.

What’s neat about the 4:33 video is how Tonya explains the background for the Model 9739 transmitter with MVD technology based on customer feedback. The existing transmitter, the RFT9739 has the analog electronics. It been used by process manufacturers for 20 years. The MVD technology, based on digital signal processing (DSP), improved the transmitter by doubling the turndown ratio, or measurement range of operation. And, as with most things that have moved from analog to digital, accuracy was also improved and greater noise immunity provided more opportunities for operation in electrically noisy environments.

Micro-Motion-Model-9739-Transmitter-with-MVD-Technology.JPGTonya shares the feedback that even with the improvements, many process manufacturers did not want to upgrade because the form factor of the RFT9739. At 1:30 in the video she describes the feedback that everything in this form factor is front accessible, the unit is wall-mountable, and its ruggedness is a good fit for truck applications

In spite of the popularity and longevity of the RFT9739, Tonya explains the realities that hardware manufacturers face in electronic parts obsolescence. With Moore’s Law inexorably driving the price/performance curves of electronic components, it’s a challenge to find new components to fit a design conceived long ago.

At 2:24, Tonya shares the results of the questions they asked customers given the reality that the RFT9739 could no longer be made at some point in the future due to parts obsolescence. Process manufacturers wanted the MVD technology for the improvements in diagnostics, accuracy, turndown ratio, and noise immunity, but they wanted to keep the form factor that was friendly to work with. They also did not want to have to change the conduit connections or rewire and be able to upgrade in place the analog electronics over to the MVD electronics.

At 2:50, Tonya highlights that this listening went into the design of the Model 9739 transmitter with MVD technology. For existing installations, an upgrade replaces the power supply and electronics without disturbing the wiring.

Two thoughts come to mind after watching this video. The first is that as the Micro Motion Online Community grows, more of this dialog between process manufacturers and Micro Motion marketing and technologists will occur on a daily basis to improve designs across all of the products. Ideas can be put out, discussed, argued over, and improved through this public communications medium.

The second is that these quick YouTube videos help convey the whys in product developments better than most other traditional forms of communication. What do you think?

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Update: Eoin Ó Riain reports on the 9739 transmitter over on his Read-out Instrumentation Signpost blog.

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