8 Insights – What customers told us about Vibration Monitoring Upgrade Project

In a recent customer survey on projects involving vibration system installations, upgrades, and retrofits, we gained insights that we wanted to pass along to you – some surprising, and some not-so-surprising – but all valuable.


In September 2022, we surveyed 17 existing and potential customers with a series of qualitative questions about upgrade projects for monitoring systems. We wanted to better understand what causes you to consider an upgrade in the first place, what you value the most, and what you look for in selecting a provider/partner. Below is summary information about who we surveyed.

Although we received many insights as a result of this survey, eight took particular prominence.

You start contemplating upgrades earlier than we anticipated.

When we asked respondents about the age of their current monitoring system, we were frankly expecting more than half the respondents to have systems that were near or even beyond their intended lifetime. In our industry, permanently installed protection system hardware is designed for a service life of 15-20 years. Condition monitoring hardware is designed for a similar lifespan, while condition monitoring software is generally upgraded more frequently because of changes in the underlying operating system, the speed at which computing, networking, and storage devices evolve, and the speed at which application software capabilities can be developed and enhanced. Also, software upgrades are generally less invasive for customers than hardware upgrades and do not entail planned outages.

Here’s the data:

Here’s what it means:

Customers like you are beginning to think about upgrading far earlier than we anticipated. We know that buying cycles in this industry are long – often several years – but what this told us is that a majority of you (nearly 70%) are beginning to think about – and even plan – an upgrade at least 5-10 years before the so-called “expiration date” of monitoring hardware is reached. It also told us that once the system exceeds 10 years, you tend to leave it alone until you’re forced to upgrade due to obsolescence. This can be seen by the larger tail (25%) of systems 20 years or older which is the time that manufacturers typically make a formal announcement regarding full obsolescence of a product and unavailability of spare parts.

While this was somewhat unexpected, what it really means is that the underlying protection system is indeed able to function just fine for 15+ years. What tends to drive the large spike in interest before year 10 is the condition monitoring capabilities. If you are like many customers, you may have only protection – not condition monitoring – and market forces for improved reliability are causing you to look at upgrading your installed systems to include condition monitoring.

Out of 10 criteria, lowest price is in your bottom 3.

We know that in face-to-face meetings, it can be awkward to speak candidly. Sometimes our customers will tell us what they think we want to hear versus what we need to hear. A survey is different because respondents can speak freely and anonymously.

Here’s what the data said in terms of customer priorities:

You want good value and part of that value equation is the quality of the product, the service, and the support. That was very clear in terms of the responses. 53% said price needed to be competitive and reflect good value; only 12% said lowest price was of substantial importance. It was also a validation that our emphasis on product quality, service, and support is completely aligned with what is important to you.

Service is at least as important as product to you – and frequently even more important.

This is not to say that product quality is unimportant. Looking back at insight #2, product quality was at the top (i.e., a majority of respondents said this was important). But, they also said service and support were highly important so we asked two additional questions to understand just how important service really was:

Loyalty is overrated.

You obviously can’t overlook quality issues, but the “must haves” don’t stop with product quality. When you cannot get adequate service and support, you are highly likely to look elsewhere. You are also highly likely to look elsewhere when you perceive price has become misaligned with good value. The data listed these as the top 3 reasons for considering a different supplier than their incumbent1:

When we looked at the incumbent suppliers, it was clear that although product quality issues were highly important, the incidences of poor product quality were not substantial. In contrast, the incidences of poor service/support and escalating prices were driving these responses. It explains also why those of you who aren’t currently buying from us are investigating us.

Upgrades are frequently driven by the machine OEM.

As an instrument manufacturer, as much as we might want to think that our obsolescence notifications and urgings are the most important criteria in your decision to upgrade, that’s not what the data said. A recommendation from your machinery OEM was more than twice as influential as any other criteria.

This tells us that a high level of trust exists between you and your machinery manufacturers and that the systems your OEMs choose to supply with their machines reflects heavily on them. We are very proud of the strong relationships we have with leading machinery manufacturers in key prime mover categories: hydro turbines, steam turbines, and gas turbines.

Risk aversion is a major part of your supplier selection criteria.

When you choose a provider as part of a project, the data told us that perceived risk heavily influences your decisions. In other words, the so-called “stick” (fear of poor outcomes) is actually more important than the so-called “carrot” (anticipation of good outcomes).

You are particularly averse to product performance risk.

We grouped risks into 5 categories: technical, commercial, support, quality, and obsolescence. We then asked respondents to rank these from least willing to accept to most willing to accept. Technical risk was defined as “will the product perform as stated or has the supplier over-promised?”. Technical risk emerged as the risk that was most undesirable. This tells us that if a supplier is not fully transparent and if a product does not live up to its promises, customers perceive this as particularly untenable. It underscored for us the importance of saying what we do and doing what we say when it comes to our products. We have an excellent track record in this regard, but it reminded us again how vitally important this is.

Your DIY appetite is low.

When we asked whether “do it yourself” was an option when it comes to installation and commissioning, a resounding 77% said “no”. 59% choose the instrument provider and 18% choose a third-party provider. Only 23% attempt the DIY route.

This was encouraging because we have learned by bitter experience what often happens when an installation is conducted in isolation from us rather than in partnership with us. In fact, we conduct site surveys upon request and it is truly cringe-worthy when we see the quality of installations and the number of problems that often ensue when we are excluded from the process. When we asked the question another way, we received a corroborating response: only 30% said “always or usually” when it came to DIY installation and servicing of their machinery monitoring systems. This underscored for us again that very few of you elect to “go it alone” and consequently the availability of local, highly competent service and support is something very important to you.


These eight insights likely reinforce what you are already thinking, but with the added support of knowing what other users value. Risk aversion ranked very high and service/support actually eclipsed product considerations in many instances. Clearly, you are looking for providers you can trust and who have a demonstrated track record of quality in both the products they provide and the service/support they provide.

Surprisingly, only 12% of survey respondents were existing users of vibro-meter products and this suggests that there is an appetite for a supplier that can do better than their incumbent is delivering. People are busy and they have better things to do than fill out surveys of providers they have no intention of using.

For us, the survey was a mix of unsurprising results and somewhat surprising results. It was particularly refreshing in that our emphasis on quality and value is well aligned with not just our existing customers, but all survey respondents – 88% of whom were using someone other than us but were actively searching for alternatives on an upcoming project.

We invite you to learn more about our products and services on our website where you can browse by product category and industry/machine category. We also invite you to read two of our recent case histories where our service capabilities are showcased as well as the product quality that convinced the customer to switch from their incumbent provider to us.


Case History: Condition Monitoring Upgrade | Case History: Protection System Upgrade


1 Only 12% of respondents listed us as their incumbent supplier.

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