Signal conditioners - Buy vs Build

Tech Note

We created a "Top 10" listing of reasons why you should buy analog signal conditioners instead of building them into your next application.

Although there are a few of these Top 10 reasons specific to Dataforth's products and documentation benefits, most of the reasons came directly from our customers. They stated how important the ease of application is with purchased signal conditioners. As well as the importance of flexibility, serviceability and the ability to scale (add or remove) channels.

Then they state that purchased signal conditioners provide a lot more than simply amplification (or attenuation) of the input signal. Check Top 10 item number 5 which summarizes eight functions designed into Dataforth's signal conditioners.

Please don't overlook the importance of solid signal conditioning in your next project. Let Dataforth apply its analog expertise and products to your next application.

Top 10 Reasons to Buy vs. Build

Top Ten Reasons to Buy
Ten Reasons Why
Not to Build Your Own
1. Scalable – You can simply add or remove channels & cost on a per channel basis. 1. Fixed – The number of channels are created at design time and that number is not adjustable.
2. Flexible – You can change functions on a per channel basis; ie. add thermocouples or RTDs to a voltage input system 2. Fixed – You get what you get! Functions are designed in as a step in the design process and not changeable.
3. Serviceable – You get the shortest MTTR (mean-time-to-repair) since I/O is replaceable on a per channel basis 3. Difficult – Troubleshooting can be very difficult! To trace and repair problems can take a lot of time and eat up a lot of cost.
4. Easy to apply – Instrument like I/O impedances interface to broadest types of electronic components and systems 4. System Interaction is where many analog circuits fail due to mismatched impedances, bandwidths and grounds.
5. Vendor Item – Complete Subassembly that is designed from input to output for:
  1. Input Protection (wiring errors
    & transients)
  2. Input to output and power
    supply Isolation
  3. Signal filtering (Up to 6 poles
    of filters)
  4. High Accuracy and Linearity
  5. To amplify or attenuate the signal
  6. Very Low output noise
  7. Linearization done in hardware
  8. Excitation voltage is also isolated
5. Analog Design Expertise is Rare Today: It is very difficult to find a knowledgeable analog engineer and just as difficult to pass expertise on from engineer to engineer. Signal conditioners require multi-faceted analog design capabilities – see eight specialty disciplines listed in table on the left. You must consider all facets to create a solid design.
6. Agency Certifications – CSA, FM, CE and other certifications are part of each subassembly (part number) 6. Agencies will need to be revisited for certification on any product upgrades and submitted for all new OEM products
7. Test Reports – Dataforth ships test reports (serialized) with each signal conditioner - accuracy traceable to NIST 7. Testing Expense – You will need to add the cost of test equipment and technician time to your own product cost
8. Lowest Lifetime Costs, Controllable – We buy for high-volume production. Also, as with any vendor item, you have simple part numbers, quantities, and costs to negotiate on fixed period of time contract 8. Engineering Change Orders take on a life of their own! You have hidden costs associated with each circuit board revision, documentation controls, raw material costs and other MRP overhead costs.
9. We Carry the Inventory – Dataforth keeps thousands of modules on the shelf to support your customers emergency needs and field service personnel 9. Customer Support and Field Service require investment in renewal parts inventory – increases costs in raw materials and work-in-process as well.
10. Simple Up-Grade Path – Simply drop-in design improvements; maybe assign a dash 1 or dash B part number. 10. Complex Up-Grade Path – You will have to revisit Items 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 above!

Was this content helpful?
Thank you for your feedback!