Having started his career with Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) systems in the early 1990s, Eddyfi Technologies’ Senior VP – Innovation, Vincent Pasquer, carries a wealth of industry knowledge including why it was so important for Eddyfi Technologies to do things differently. He weighs in here.
You’ve had quite a career in NDT for some time now. Can you speak to the importance of software and how it has evolved over the decades?
We have witnessed advances from analog to digital and now computerized technology. We’ve progressed from A-scan, B-scan, C-scan to 3D visualization of richer data. This is thanks mostly to improved software, from acquisitions and analysis all the way to reporting.
Software has a central role for almost any advanced NDT method out there today. It provides a lot of the value that people look for when investing in advanced NDT equipment. The ability to capture the best quality data, perform the most accurate analysis and deliver the most relevant report is all greatly influenced by the critical role that software plays.
The expectations of the entire industry are much more elaborate than what they used to be. Stakeholders are feeling the pressure in a world with less tolerance to safety concerns and a greater focus on traceability. The asset owners and critical component manufacturers are looking for trustworthy data results while inspection vendors seek the most efficient and easy-to-deploy instruments. And of lot of these requirements are possible because of software. It is not surprising that software now represents a significant portion of the investments service providers make when it comes to NDT equipment, or at least it should.
So, what you’re saying is that inspection companies must invest in the latest generation of equipment?
Actually, that’s not exactly what I mean. Believe it or not, the newest instrument does not necessarily come with the best software. And depending on manufacturers, there is no indication that the software will evolve over time to deliver more value to users. With the increasing importance of software, of course you want to make sure you have robust electronics because they’re needed and important, but this often isn’t the gamechanger. Many recent platforms more or less have similar hardware features with performance embedded in similar form factor casings resulting in hardware becoming a commonality. Software with innovative features and well thought out user interfaces designed for NDT inspectors is the new differentiator that drives efficiency and cost savings.
If opting for the latest hardware isn’t the solution here, what is?
You need to make sure you invest in systems that come with futureproof software and select manufacturers that have a track record for delivering innovation with a robust software roadmap – not only bug fixes – for example. Your hardware is only as good as your software’s functionality. And as seen in the industry, a lot of commercially available software appears to suffer from a lack of reinvestment.
Another issue is that the upfront price of software, or hardware and software combined, can be quite significant when it comes to advanced NDT — and this is without any guarantee of improvements in functionality or ease of use. The status quo really isn’t good for the industry, I think. Fortunately, we found the solution that ensures our software stays Beyond Current, killing two birds with one stone.
"Fortunately, we found the solution that ensures our software stays Beyond Current, killing two birds with one stone."
What exactly do you mean by that?
Eddyfi Technologies cares about advancing NDT solutions with constant innovation and trying to solve problems that others simply won’t. We humbly suggest another way to buy data acquisition and analysis software that makes more sense in a lot of cases.
Consider the purchase decisions in your personal life. Subscriptions are around everywhere because they generally offer more value for a reduced cost that is spread over the time of use. They offer more flexibility and typically contribute to ensuring customer satisfaction because providers don’t want to lose subscribers.
If these fundamentals make sense, the same logic can be applied to advanced NDT: subscriptions encourage manufacturers to innovate, while keeping price points practical for users. An NDT software subscription approach offers the immediate benefits of reduced capital expenditures, allowing service companies to invest less to deploy advanced NDT or select higher-end models while still keeping costs reasonable.
But how exactly is this implemented at Eddyfi Technologies?
Practically speaking, we offer many of our software platforms via a subscription model, whether they are PC-based or embedded in our portable instruments. We offer either permanent licenses with built-in updates, or more flexible, 1-year software subscriptions. In most cases, it means you can acquire advanced NDT systems and start building your service offering or your in-house NDT for much less than what it used to cost. Simply put, you can expect a 30 to 60% reduction in CAPEX, on top of always having access to technical support and the latest software versions available, at your convenience. It’s fairly new in the NDT industry, but very common all around us, and we’re seeing a lot of customers now interested in our subscription approach for NDT software.
And what about those who say, “why choose a subscription when some manufacturers provide updates for free”?
Free software may seem like a great deal at first, but if it can’t deliver the full value people expect now and over the following years, it’s just lowering your return on investment. When you’re investing in a new tool, look at the rate at which the manufacturer is developing and innovating compared to others in the market. You need to ask yourself if you should invest in the status quo, that will ultimately under deliver, or embark on a transition to have the state-of-the-art system and leading system for years to come. When it comes to investing in advanced NDT, considering anything but the next standard in the industry doesn’t make a lot of sense. Truth is, we have a proven record for innovating through new software features with the support of new probes for new applications, and development of new algorithms and software processes directly impacting an instrument’s capabilities.
There are valid reasons to consider manufacturers offering free software upgrades. But also consider the benefits of investing in solutions that truly evolve over time and come with professional technical support, especially since it is often significantly less expensive upfront. I think your goal should be to choose products that make the most sense for your business today, and in the future.
Are service providers being locked into a contract?
No. On the contrary, by offering more novel options for procuring NDT software, people have flexibility and there is no contract per se. People can opt for a one-year subscription –which means the total cost is greatly reduced compared to prices in place before subscriptions were offered– or a perpetual license with built-in updates. Note you have full flexibility to not renew your subscription for some time if you have no need for a given unit or a given software, and you can reactivate your subscription when the need arises. And you are not forced to install new software versions: you are always free to continue using a supported, previous software version during your subscription period, although we highly recommend using the latest software to benefit from the improvements.
You make a pretty compelling argument! Thanks for your time, Vincent.
To all our readers who would like to learn more about Eddyfi Technologies’ advantageous software subscription model, contact us today.