IEN: After a very tough year 2009 in terms of economy, statements of leading company representatives on the most recent trade shows, like Hannover Messe or Sensor+Test, clearly indicate that business has definitely been picking up during the first quarter of 2010. Is this also the case with Omega Engineering?
Agger: 2009 was undoubtedly a very tough time for all and we would certainly echo those words, although we detected an upturn far earlier than the first quarter of this year. It seems a strong combination of customer loyalty and our ability to attract new business actually resulted in growth for us during that time, which has continued even stronger in 2010.
IEN: Your portfolio consists of over 100.000 products for measurement and control of temperature, humidity, pressure, strain, force, flow, level, pH and conductivity. What are the most important areas of application for your products?
Agger: The aim of the company is to be a single source for process measurement and control. Omega has a wide and varied customer base, including Aerospace, Automotive, Petro-chemicals, Bio-science, Food & Beverage, Pharmaceuticals, Energy Management and Construction. Clearly the ability to supply so many market sectors with sensors and compatible instrumentation gives us almost limitless application solutions.
IEN: Apart from the hardware and software products, what services do you offer to your customers?
Agger: From our European headquarters in Manchester, UK, we provide full product support, which includes in-house calibration and repair as well as free technical advice, either by e-mail or through any of our Freephone numbers. However, many people are unaware that we manufacture over 80% of the products we supply, enabling our advice and customer service to be tailored precisely to suit specific requirements. That expertise is further enhanced by our team of Application Engineers, where we are able to provide simple product modifications, new product design or even a fully custom engineered system.
IEN: Many of the globally acting companies have been moving their production sites from the so-called high wage countries to the low wage countries. In contrast to that, Omega Engineering has never taken such a step, but instead - by investing in personnel and equipment - expanded its UK facilities, to become one of the largest sensor manufacturers in Europe. What were the reasons for this decision?
Agger: Omega recognises that absolute commitment to product quality and exceptional customer service are the key factors to securing a successful future. That philosophy has helped us to build a world-wide reputation for reliability and consumer confidence, which has been the cornerstone of our success spanning the past five decades. Our manufacturing plants and equipment are state-of-the-art and we are proud to support the professional development of our staff through a variety of on-going training and educational programmes. Omega has always been driven by those high ideals, rather than a mere pursuit of lower wage costs.
IEN: According to a study carried out be the German Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI), the number of German companies moving their production facilities to China, Eastern Europe and other low-wage countries has decreased by 40 % in the past 3 years, mostly due to quality problems. This obviously confirms your decision to focus on Western Europe. Do you think that ‘moving back West’ will be a common trend in the near future?
Agger: The current indicators certainly seem to suggest that will be the case. Aside from quality concerns, delivery dates can often be uncertain, transport costs are escalating and international communication is also a major factor to be considered. There is now a very strong campaign in the UK to highlight the significant benefits that manufacturing would bring to restore a balanced economy, which has gained government support.
IEN: One of the most recent developments has been wireless devices for all sorts of measurement. What does Omega have in its portfolio in that area?
Agger: We recognised the benefits that wireless instrumentation could bring to industry and moved into that field of technology at an early stage. Omega now boasts a very impressive range of sensors, connectors, transmitters and receivers, data loggers and chart recorders covering almost all product groups. We believe we have taken the lead in wireless technology and our broad product range allows customers to very simply build a complete system. Using our complimentary Ethernet and internet servers, it easily becomes possible to connect, monitor and control processes from anywhere in the world.
IEN: What other major trends do you see in measurement technology in the near future?
Agger: Product design to promote eco-friendly end-of-life strategies allowing disassembly and recycling compatible with European Directives, such as WEEE, RoHS, REACH and the Waste Battery Regulations. We also see a trend towards higher accuracy sensors and instrumentation to support advances in process technology that are reinforced by organisations such as 3A, EHEDG, SAE International and NADCAP with the added prospect of self-validation capabilities.
Facts & Figures
Headquarters: Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A.
International Subsidiaries in Canada, United Kingdom, Germany
Main Products: Measuring devices in the fields of temperature, pressure & strain, flow & level, pH & conductivity, products for data acquisition, and electric heaters.