When Process Heating asked readers what solid-state power controls manufacturers can do to improve their products, the responses were quite revealing. Those who responded to Process Heating's survey, conducted during the months of May and June this year, said they would like to see longer lifetimes, product manuals that include more technical-friendly instructions and drawings for controls and schematics, lower product costs, improved delivery times and a power test for each unit before shipping.
While they may seem to be asking for a lot, solid-state power control users have every right, as most are spending more on the equipment than they were in previous years. According to the survey, 16 percent of respondents are spending more than $10,000 a year on solid-state power controls. Another 56 percent spend between $1,000 and $10,000 each year. Just 28 percent of respondents spend less than $1,000 a year. And for many -- 22 percent -- the spending was higher than in previous years.
And, after increasing their budgets, many still face issues with the controls. When asked about the single biggest problem with the solid-state power controls currently in use, respondents mentioned blowouts due to short circuits, failures of out-of-the-box controls, fuse problems at startups, reliability issues and poor technical support.
Despite the cited issues, most purchasers are brand loyal, with 40 percent of respondents saying they often specify solid-state power controls by company or brand name, another 28 percent say they always do so, 26 percent specify sometimes and only 6 percent say they never do so.
Respondents also shared insights into the factors that come into play when selecting a solid-state power controls supplier. Ease of maintenance was considered very important by 79 percent of respondents and somewhat important by 21 percent. Product availability was considered very important by 74 percent, somewhat important by 24 percent and not at all important by only 2 percent. Application assistance also rated high, with 72 percent of respondents saying it was very important, 24 percent considering it somewhat important and 4 percent saying it was not an issue. Seventy percent also said technical support was very important, while another 26 percent said it was somewhat important and only 4 percent said it was not a factor.