Formerly Commtest, GE Measurement & Control, Christchurch grew out of the Research & Development department of a technology company. Although we have grown considerably, the culture of prototyping and innovation remains a core part of who we are.
While still part of the R&D division, our team created the Profiler™ data logger (now a legacy product) in 1989, and refined and redesigned it over the next few years. It’s still used by major railroad and transit companies in over 20 countries. The Profiler led us into a market that was new for us, but one we were sure we had the expertise and skill to win, something which has been proven over time.
As we experimented with different forms of technology, we observed that the top end of the market was heavily contested, while few technologically advanced products were available at low-cost. Predictive maintenance was also seen as a bit of a ‘black art', producing reports that seem daunting to even the most experienced operators.
By 1993, Commtest had become an independent company, enabling us to aggressively go after the gap we saw for low-cost solutions. By removing excess functionality and concentrating only on what our customers needed, we could make vibration analysis affordable for several companies.
Throughout the 1990s we extended our product line to include portable and permanently mounted data loggers, analyzers, and balancing instruments. Our portable brands were popular because they were flexible, easy to use, and still affordable. The first of the vbSeriesTM was launched in 1999. The series includes dual and four-channel vibration analyzers, single and four-channel data collectors, and dual and four-channel balancing devices. vbOnlineTM was our first wired, permanent installation that offered continuous monitoring of our customers' critical machinery. This product line enabled our customers to monitor the health of machinery in remote or dangerous working environments. We expanded our software development team, and our Ascent® software has won multiple awards. Ascent receives and displays spectra, waveforms, and trends; creates envelope and band alarms; and generates reports.
Each new product required moving beyond what we currently knew, forcing us to learn quickly, prototype often, and refine as we went. We realized we were good at solving very complex problems and displaying the information simply. We shifted our thinking from building products to focusing on the problems customers were experiencing.
The wind energy market was becoming aware of the importance of critical condition monitoring when we released Turningpoint®, our technology solution specifically designed for wind turbines. Turningpoint is a permanent installation and complements VantagepointTM, a software application that presents real-time information to provide an overview on the health of hundreds of turbines.
Customers want the ability to monitor machinery in environments where installation of a wired system isn't possible, or the cost of wiring would be prohibitive. Launched in 2010, RangerTM is the first of our information systems that combines wireless and wired technology. Customers can build condition monitoring systems specific to their machinery, with the option to make the system entirely wireless, use only the wired modules, or a combination of the two.