Looking back as early as 10 years ago, it is amazing to see the advancements made in technology. Devices that at the time seemed relatively small and advanced are being made even smaller, lighter and more enhanced. Almost everything that was done on a desktop computer 10 years ago can be accomplished on a handheld device.

The water treatment industry has made similar advancements in handheld devices. These improvements have helped dealers examine problem water and also become a great selling point.

Making life easier through handheld devices

While handheld testing devices aren’t necessarily new to the water treatment industry, there have been several upgrades over the years to bring these devices up to date with 21st Century technology.

People are always looking for little advantages to make their life and job easier, and many look for those shortcuts through handheld devices.

“Two things we’re always trying to do is pack more features into a single device as well as improve the ease of use,” says Rob Samborn, vice president of sales and marketing for HM Digital Inc. “Combining features, modes or certain specifications once found in different versions of similar products dramatically improves a product and the user experience.”

Simplifying testing through advances

“Our mission is to provide a meter that is easy to use, accurate and affordable,” notes Paul Fabsits, vice president of Global Business Development for HANNA Instruments Inc. “It has been our goal to bring technologies to people who would not ordinarily think about using it.”

This equipment has become beneficial to workers out in the field who have had to deal with unforeseen circumstances in the past. Instead of hauling around several metering devices, many have been clumped together into one small handheld device.

“In the past, a user, whether for business or home, would need to wade through several different variations of similar instruments,” adds Samborn. “For example, if you wanted a TDS meter that also had a built-in thermometer, you may find one meter with a Celsius thermometer, and a separate meter which was exactly the same, with a Fahrenheit thermometer, or one meter to cover a low TDS range, a second to cover a middle range and a third to cover a high range. Nowadays, you can find single products to cover the various needs. This helps the user by improving the decision-making process and reduces costs.”

Regulations and future of handheld devices

Increased regulations for drinking water have had an impact on the amount of water testing that utilities and homeowners perform. This is a big plus for companies that offer easy to use handheld equipment, especially at a fair price.

Fabsits says that the Clean Water Act and Groundwater Rule have been instrumental in the increased awareness of testing, which companies must comply with in order to avoid hefty fines from the Environmental Protection Agency as well as state and federal organizations.

“Since being caught in violation of these permits can result in a very expensive fine, many customers are looking for a reliable measurement system that they can have confidence in the results,” asserts Fabsits. “Features such as logging of a measurement, USB for transferring data and GLP (Good Laboratory Practice) that records the calibration information, date, time and solutions used are becoming more desirable. It provides the industrial customer with a record of the readings and the sensor performance for documentation if they are suspected of violating a permit.”

While Samborn doesn’t contribute heightened regulations specifically to a spike in the sales of handheld testing equipment, he does think that the popularity of water testing is increasing across the board. “It’s something that every person has a vested interest in. Besides drinking water, there are countless other industries that require various types of water testing, and the number of industries and applications appears to be growing,” he adds.

Some improvements Samborn expects to see in the near future include: More advanced internal computer programming and higher technology to allow for a wider array of features; simplified calibration; and wider measurement ranges with sleeker designs.

The time has come. The future of handheld devices is here today. We live in a society that constantly looks for ways to improve everyday life and technology is the gateway to that prosperity. Public concerns for water quality are also on the rise, making it even more desirable to put handheld products at the forefront of any sales pitch.