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ELPRO LEPENIK In this expert article, we present the importance of the total cost of ownership (TCO) of our temperature sensors, or an explanation of why ELPRO temperature sensors actually cost less than competing sensors.

We hear you, you say that the price of a temperature sensor is often too high, that you have received lower offers.
You have trusted us for over 30 years, you know us and you know we care. It is difficult to explain what is included in the price over the phone or in an always too short visit,
what concrete benefits you get from buying our product.

We have prepared a longer article and broken it down into several main units, each of which is separate, but nevertheless linked into a common solution.
Because we want you to know that we work solely for the client and because we are well aware that without you, there is no us. And we would like to continue to do so for decades to come.

Aleksandra and Zoran Lepenik

TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) represents and highlights the difference between the purchase price and the long-term or direct costs associated with a product or service over a given lifetime or expected lifetime. These include installation costs, operating costs, use, maintenance, repair, quality, scrap or replacement costs.

Even if we are not familiar with the term TCO, we logically apply it to many areas of our lives. When you only need something once and for a short time, it will be a different purchase than when you need something every day, it is used a lot and you may need a professional to install it.

If you understand the principle of TCO over the lifetime of a product, you will soon realise that ELPRO temperature sensors actually COST LESS than similar products in the competition.

What and how can we prove it to you?

At ELPRO Lepenik, we are committed to maximising the optimum service life or service life. Hence design temperature sensors to have replaceable components, to be repairable and renewable .

By repairing or refurbishing, we are bringing the optimum useful life closer to the service life, or significantly extending it. At least 95% of our temperature sensors are like this. Only those that are filled with non-reversible masses are not renewable due to the specificity of their use (vapour-tight, vacuum). And even these can be reused for their special parts: fittings, connectors and other interchangeable parts, so even these are still largely viable to repair.

What is the difference between the optimum useful life and the life of a temperature sensor?

Temperature sensor lifetime is as long as the sensor is working to give the signal read on the instrument.

Optimal lifetime of the temperature sensor is the period of time during which the temperature sensor operates optimally and according to its specification (accuracy, class, creep). The article below explains which factors make the difference. For a start, it is good to know that the difference between these two periods can range from a few months to a few years, or even several decades. These are the many years when we waste energy, have poor quality and a lot of rejection, have problems with the product and its properties (strength, compactness) and often do not even realise why or what is the source of these problems. Very often it’s a worn-out temperature sensor – but it’s still working. And as long as it works, we won’t touch it, will we?

With proven low spoilage, high quality materials and modular design, 100% output control, reliable and repeatable processes and high levels of confidence, we achieve one of the lowest loss of value rates in the industry.

With cost-efficiency as an integral part of our offer at all levels, and with the help of our experts and excellent complementary services, we ensure optimal total product costs, competitive repair and refurbishment costs. As well as a sustainable impact in your process for your social responsibility and emission balance.

Why not send your temperature sensor for repair or refurbishment?

Without any special preparation, packaging or shipping, temperature sensors removed from the process are delivered today by our service contractors whenever and wherever they need to be (when they are on their way past us, so there are no extra costs, or we pick them up when we need to). Some people have special transport cases made for this purpose, others use dedicated suitcases, others use whatever they have at their disposal. We inspect them when we have unoccupied time available (within a month) and assess whether or not repair or renovation is viable. This is how we fill our free time in production. This makes the repair or overhaul job an hour cheaper than a regular job, which has a positive impact on the repair price. (note: the service described above is contractual; in the contract we agree on the logistics of receipt and delivery, the time of execution, the pricing policy, the method of validation, additional services of control, calibration, etc. – whatever the customer needs).

This can also be done within the regular 3-5 working days or under the urgent (24 h) deadline. If this is the case, just after the regular billing hour (note: no special contractual agreement is needed for this type of service, just an order before or after the cost estimate).

Where, and only where, the Contracting Authority requires a written estimate of costs, it shall pay this in a small lump sum. But that’s only if the repair/refurbishment/purchase is not done by us and we cover the cost of the inspection. In practice, there are hardly any cases of non-repair or non-rebuild, as temperature sensors are an indispensable sensor in the process for the operation of the control and measurement system and are extremely suitable for repair and rebuild.

It is important to remember that the measuring element, whether it is a resistance sensor or a thermocouple, is always replaced by a new one. The exception to retaining the measuring sensor/element shall only be made for calibration laboratories that monitor the annual creep of the sensor and only if the element is still in a suitable condition, which shall be tested separately and such repair is more costly.

We build partnerships with our users based on trust and tailored, integrated solutions. As a result, they reduce the overall cost of use in the work process.

Our users appreciate our commitment to sustainability and apply our actions to their own sustainability processes,
therefore, it has a multiplier effect on sustainability.

It’s all part of our real commitment to quality, in products, partners, employees and the services needed to meet the needs of all our customers.

Looking beyond the purchase price

When customers need a reliable solution for measuring temperature in their processes, the company’s customer often makes a decision on the basis of the purchase price alone when purchasing temperature sensors. However, as the purchase price does not reflect the actual cost of the temperature sensor, it turns out to be a more expensive purchase later on. Of course, this is an aspect that the final buyer is not informed about and does not know how to take into account at the beginning of the purchasing process. That’s why we are here – temperature measurement experts with more than 30 years of professional and practical experience, knowledge and in-house development. Ask us.

So how does the TCO concept relate to ELPRO temperature sensors?

  • For optimum performance of the temperature sensor must the manufacturer must know the application, i.e. the use. Lay selection via a website most often leads to the wrong choice. This leads to higher costs, poorer accuracy and a shorter optimum useful life or service life. In particular, lifetime suffers if the wrong choice is made, and it is a key factor in the TCO view and costing. That’s why we want the user to get in touch with us, and we’ll take care of the rest.. The user selection and online configurators are not suitable for lay users, but only for temperature measurement experts. We are mainly only those manufacturers who are application-oriented (i.e. we do not have mass production), professional equipment providers (i.e. those who sell the solution, not just the equipment) and calibration laboratories with at least 10 years of experience. All of us who have experienced thousands of different applications and uses first-hand. Although similar, one measurement is not identical to another and the same temperature sensor may behave completely differently on two different applications. Always measure, it’s just a question of how accurately (impact on energy efficiency and quality), with what response time (impact on process) and with what optimum useful and service life (impact on maintenance, labour costs, changeover times, additional procurement costs, etc.) and how much cost or positive impact we will have in the meantime.

Poor accuracy, process downtime and labour are by far the highest cost drivers of temperature management. So we don’t want the cheapest sensor, we want a temperature sensor that is proven for the application and has the most favourable total cost of ownership (TCO).

  • Even if an optimal solution has already been found years ago (for example by the device manufacturer), a defective element may only be a guide to the choice. We must not ignore all the changes we have already made and all the changes we want to make, and on the basis of these factors we must re-examine optimality. Modification 1, 2, 3, etc. is not uncommon here. Today there is product x in the process, tomorrow there will be product y, the customer’s customer and their requirements will change, temperatures will change, they will go digital, etc – all these are factors that may make the original choice no longer appropriate.
  • In the selection process, the measurement process (application) and the operating conditions are key to the choice. During use, temperature sensors are exposed to a wide range of influences such as: rapid changes in temperature or other quantities (e.g. pressure), humidity, dirt, very high or very low temperatures, the presence of aggressive and less aggressive chemical compounds, gas flows, particulate flows, vacuum and other physical factors, as well as user intervention and manual manipulation.
  • Temperature sensors are made of natural materials such as platinum (RTD and TC), rhodium, nickel, copper, chromium and other metals (all TC). Everything natural ages, decays. Adverse conditions greatly accelerate ageing, while favourable conditions slow it down. When ageing cannot be controlled, we introduce a cycle of time changes. We have a strong influence on slowing down ageing through appropriate protective elements and tailored designs.

This is where optimum service life and life expectancy intersect. As the sensor ages, the optimum useful life is interrupted (no longer accurate), and the sensor continues towards the end of its useful life, when it will be so worn out that it will break or stop working. What do we need to do on this point – repair the sensor (minor intervention) or rebuild it (major intervention). All materials that are not yet worn out are retained, and the entire gauging part is always replaced. This recovers the optimum service life and extends the service life.

  • Operating conditions change the materials, so the results change. And a temperature sensor that is still working is not necessarily the one we want or expect. There can also be long periods of inadequate functioning before it is fully eradicated. The more stable and simple our process is, the harder it is to spot a sensor inadequacy, the later we will react. We will be angered by quality. There will be other failures, but we won’t know that the temperature sensor is dead because the control is still working. In complex processes, everything is faster and more stressful, so inadequacies are noticed sooner.
  • In addition, users carry out calibrations, assemblies and disassemblies for cleaning, overhauls, maintenance and many other operations. Where we can cause injury (sometimes even micro-injury). Any intervention can affect optimality, so temperature sensors should be checked after such processes. Interesting – most sudden failures are on restarts after an overhaul, shutdown, service!
  • So there is ageing, decay, abrasion, human intervention. All this leads to deviations in the measuring elements, resulting in erroneous measurements that bring with them a lot of costly problems.

“It seems logical, therefore, that before buying such an item, it would be a good idea to consult a professional, or . consider its TCO before deploying it in the workplace. Making decisions based solely on a lower initial cost (purchase price) happens more often than you might think.”

Why is this happening?

By being tempted by a lower price, buyers of temperature sensors are essentially receiving inadequate, unsustainable, unmaintainable, unreliable, unrepairable or inflexible sensors. This does not take into account the high costs involved in their actual use.

In general, RTDs and TCs have a fairly wide range of applications and standardised properties. However, both have features that allow us to make various adjustments. That’s why it doesn’t matter which sensor technique is used for a particular purpose. This is where the experience and testing/calibration capabilities of us, the temperature sensor manufacturers, are important.

Initial investment with professional support leads to lower total cost of ownership

TCO is made up of the indirect costs (goods, materials, labour, services) and the direct costs (energy, maintenance, repairs, downtime, scrap, depreciation, etc.) of a product. Direct costs are the ones you should absolutely look into before buying a temperature sensor. These are influenced by many factors (complaints, customer bad will, loss of new orders, process bottlenecks, accelerated ageing and/or deterioration of working equipment, etc.). These increase operating expenses, leading to a loss of orders and thus negatively affecting business and reputation.

MAIN ELEMENTS of the total cost of ownership of ELPRO temperature sensors

The total cost of ownership of ELPRO temperature sensors over their lifetime is presented below. These consist of:

  • Purchase price: the manufacture of the temperature sensor shall consist of the actual price of the materials and other costs involved, plus a factor to cover the cost and time required for the administrative and production part of the manufacture. Packaging is included in the cost of production, dispatch is not part of the product price. We do not operate on a margin system, but on a cost system. That’s because our production is boutique, not mass-produced, and we can make one piece to sample or 500 for the first installation. Of course, one piece will always be the most expensive, so don’t compare us to the serial manufacturers of spare parts, which is what serial sensors are. But by making the right choices and discussing the different options on both sides, we can always find the right solution.

Remember: we want the longest possible optimum service and lifetimes. The extension is subject to reparability.

  • Cost of ownership: regular production time is 3-5 working days (average 2.7 days), we hold very high stocks of materials. We can also produce a temperature sensor within 24 hours, which we do in all emergencies for our users (24h service). This also makes it easier to manage our customers’ inventories. Customers can buy quantities of stock from us on a lease (contract). This reduces congestion, too frequent interventions by maintenance staff, man-hours, on-call time and bad moods.
  • Cost of use: adding value to optimum lifetime – services accredited calibration laboratory . We upgrade the temperature area with complementary products from our partners’ (dealerships) sales programme for accurate and reliable display, control, automation and optimisation of your temperature process, to which we can add relative humidity, pressure and level measurements. This has a very significant impact on the cost of energy efficiency, which starts at the sensor.
  • Maintenance costs: with availability of spare parts, 24-hour support, technical advice, in-process installation, maintenance/service/calibration (including on-site), we further influence maintenance costs. All under one roof. We also reduce the risk of damage to contractors, equipment and infrastructure. This is caused by excessive temperatures, difficult access, hazardous areas and other factors. We provide professional workshops and training for users and maintenance staff, including at the user’s location.
  • Repair costs: we use systems and materials in our construction and design that increase the life and protection of our products, which means fewer repairs. At the same time, these steps ensure that our products are repairable, so that we keep the bulk of the expensive parts. It doesn’t have to be a temperature sensor or other product to be binned. It can be repaired or restored, it can have a secondary life. See more at.
  • Quality cost: we influence the accuracy of the measurement by verifying the quality of the sensors and materials, the way they are manufactured (design, layout), the high quality internal connections, special fillers and recommended installation depths, as well as by verifying the processes and suppliers. We primarily source from the EU, with a smaller share from the UK, Japan, America and Canada. We only use manufacturers with proven quality and a long tradition. There are significant price differences in materials, but as long as customers understand and can redirect a slightly higher price into a positive TCO, this can remain our guiding principle. It is also with this understanding in mind that we have decided to produce this record. Because we see for ourselves that the differences in materials from market to market can be very large, and buying from cheaper markets has not in any case produced positive or better results. Although the buyer insisted on this option. However, we can also find the cheapest option of specified quality, subject to specific agreement with the customer and depending on the purpose (e.g. single use). such as ceramic tubes, compensation cables, thermocouples, connectors, etc. This gives you access to the most cost-effective solutions for simple measurements. We cannot and do not want to use these materials in regular production. Because they cannot meet the requirements for effective cost and usage control. This is where we definitely differ from other temperature sensor manufacturers.
  • We use these features to adapt to the requirements of the customer or the process and to treat the results correctly. The latter results in fewer repairs, process bottlenecks, rejection, scarcity and other side costs that would be caused by poorer quality materials and workmanship.
  • Cost of waste materials: because we care where worn-out or defective sensors end up (even if they are not made by us), we want to refurbish, repair, recycle and reuse their embedded materials. We collect and recycle one of the key elements in sensors – platinum, which has a 98% reusability after processing. This is a very energy and cost-efficient solution, as the precious metal is extremely expensive to extract and produce.

TCO calculation according to ELPRO temperature sensors

So what is the difference in total cost of ownership between ELPRO temperature sensors and other temperature sensors?

ELPRO LEPENIK & CO. d.o.o. presents an article on the TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP of temperature sensors.
Figure: TCO over the lifetime of a product

Example of TCO on sheathed temperature sensors (MIMS) – when it really matters who the manufacturer is – the material may or may not be exactly the same, and there is already a significant difference in quality, but to the eye it is all the same:

MIMS (Mineral Insulated Metal Sheathed) temperature sensors, or sheathed temperature sensors, or cable mineral insulated temperature sensors, are the most commonly used elements in measurement technology in general use. They offer great flexibility (fit for purpose) at an affordable price. The MIMS temperature sensors have the advantage of flexibility, large temperature ranges, large diameter ranges and an extremely wide range of applications. This is their positive side.

At the expense of good properties, we are faced with more difficult processing (manufacturers are specialising) and the necessary attention to make the right choice for the user. Process-intensive and correct manufacturing results in specified accuracy to standard and retention of properties over time. Poorer workmanship results in poorer accuracy, higher drift, and therefore a shorter optimum service life and a shorter lifetime. The latter two parameters are strongly dependent on the manufacturing process of the sheathing material itself, the purity and dryness of the MgO insulation. Above all from the storage and tempering process before and during the otherwise time-limited processing in the production of temperature sensors. The process has an increased number of control points and control measurements and is very time-dependent and does not allow for large batches. That a manufacturer can be bad is their downside – the user cannot see it by eye, only through the purchase price.

This is why there are also larger differences in market prices in this segment, as manufacturers can go from almost zero attention to maximum attention and this is reflected in the price. Because intermediate steps are time-consuming (sealing, tempering, appropriate storage and processing time window, small batch processing, increased control measurements during processing, special sealing materials, cleaning, etc.). Therefore, it is useful for the user to indicate at the time of enquiry whether they have a very simple application (e.g. only short-term measurements, application complexity, etc.) as well as if they have a very demanding application (measuring equipment, test measurements, low or high temperatures). This allowsthe manufacturer to adapt the production process to the optimum use.

Today, metrology to lower total cost of ownership

So here’s what we’re telling you – AN ACCURATELY SELECTED AND SET TEMPERATURE TIPALO IS PAID FOR ALONE. But poorly chosen and inadequately made, it can be extremely costly. Of course, there are certain areas of operation that are extremely demanding (vacuum, steam sterilisation, cryo, etc.). We won’t get the life expectancy we want here for a long time, but doing anything is better than doing nothing. But we also influence user and producer awareness, development, science.

Communication between the user and the manufacturer is key to improvements. That’s also why we have a life cycle for our temperature sensors. We restore them, repair and recycle their relevant parts, or give them a new lease of life. To ensure that the useless phase comes as late as possible or never.

☏ Call us: +386 2 62 96 720

They are always available for opinions and explanations:

Aleksandra Lepenik, expert in temperature measurements

Measurement expert Zoran Lepenik

Authors Katarina Žunko, Aleksandra Lepenik
September 2023

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