Advanced Imaging


Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

Getting Specific /Specification Specifics/Specifying Specifications


By Kristin Lewotsky

If you want to tell someone where to meet, use a map. If you want to know where youíre going, use a map. If you want to show people where you are, use a map.

In a sense, specifications operate as the maps of the high tech world. You write specifications for your suppliers and customers so that youíre all clear on deliverables, you write a specification to define a project goal, and, of course, you write a spec on a standard product to show what it does.

Where to Meet

A grad school friend of mine who builds femtosecond lasers once traveled to Japan to install a system for a chemist. The laser as built actually beat spec and my friend was justly proud, having supplied his customer with pulses even shorter than promised. Unfortunately, the shorter the pulse, the broader the bandwidth, which in this case negatively impacted the customerís research. The moral of the story is that understanding the application is paramount.

ďItís all about meeting customer expectations,Ē said Chris Calling, president of scientific imaging and spectroscopy specialist Andor USA (South Windsor, Conn.). ďIf we build something that fulfills the idea of what we think itís supposed to but itís different from what the customer expects, at the end of the day itís a bad thing.Ē

As with using a map to get both parties to the same place, you can use a spec sheet to be sure that both parties in a sales transaction are in agreement as to the expectations for the product or services being delivered. This is not as simple as it sounds Ė there can be a wide gulf between what a customer wants and what is actually needed to perform the work. To deliver optimal performance while controlling cost, Andor sends in an application specialist to work with the customer to understand their application and how best to address it. Once that part of the process is complete, they confirm with manufacturing that they can deliver.

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