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Sierra’s Best Days Are Ahead!

As President of Sierra Instruments, I’d like to welcome you to our first issue in a series of six sales rep/distributor newsletters planned for 2011. We recognize the value of building a stronger relationship with you as the competitive environment gets a lot tougher.

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Online Sales Launched

We are excited to announce that our online store went live on January 18th, giving you another sales channel to grow your territory.

Our online store is designed to help you close more deals by offering FAST, next day delivery for in stock 100s, 800s, 50s, 205s, and 210s.  Now you have a fast solution for customers who need expedites without waiting for factory approvals and adding the sometimes hard to explain expedite fees.

3 Ways the Online Store Can Help You Close More Orders:

As our partner you will receive full commission for all online sales in your territory.  In addition, all online customer contact data is sent to you immediatly upon purchase.  As a result,  your customers get great customer service, fast, automated order processing (no more ADS sheets), and next day delivery. 

The ability to make online purchases is only available to United States customers at this time. There are plans to open it up internationally in the future.

Our Personal Shopper Feature is Coming Soon…
Imagine being able to personal shop for your customers with no paperwork required–no more filling out ADS sheets. You use your expertise to specify products for your customer by going to the store and filling an online shopping cart for them. Once the cart is full, you email the shopping cart link to your customer.  Your customer opens the link and completes the credit card purchase online.  Your customer will have the ease of mind that they are buying the right instrument for their application.  This level of innovative customer support is sure to impress customers as it is very unique in our industry.

Go to our online store to see what the buzz is all about.

New 40-Page Clean Energy Guide

It’s predicted that the clean energy industry will be the third largest global industrial sector by 2020. Sierra is passionately committed to supporting the visionaries that will make this happen.

As a part of that commitment, we have partnered with customers from all over the world to develop a host of solutions to some of today’s most pressing environmental problems. From high performance flow measurement instrumentation that helps create biofuel to unique measurement solutions for environmental research on global warming, Sierra is pioneering the way.

Our new 40-page “Sierra Clean Energy Guide” introduces customers to some of our most innovative partners, and the unique solutions we have developed by Thinking Ahead…together. Download the guide from our website at or contact Maryadine at and she will send you printed copies.

Sierra Expands Digital Footprint

2011 will be a year of innovation as we introduce new features across all product lines. In the recent representative/distributor survey, the number one concern was the lack of digital communications in many of our products. We are working on various ways to integrate the common protocols (HART, Profibus PA and DP, Foundation Fieldbus, even Ethernet) across our product lines. You will see solutions for many of these in 2011. Please help us prioritize.

Tell us what protocols customers want the most:

Glen’s Selling Secrets

Listen to an interview with Glen Coblentz, Sierra’s VP of Sales North America focussing on a few practical selling tips.  The interview discusses advantages of Sierra’s new online sales capability and expands on the powerful benefits of Sierra’s leading products.

Glen’s Selling Secrets

Tell us what future topics you would like us to cover:

Sierra’s 780S UHP Dominates Gas Purification Skid Market

Sierra’s 780S Ultra High Purity (UHP) in-line mass flow meter continues to dominate the ultra high purity gas distribution market. Designed 15 years ago with the help Air Products, a leading gas distributor, the 780S UHP is the meter of choice for gas purification skid manufacturers like SAES Pure Gas in San Luis Obispo, CA and Entegris in Billarica, MA. Both companies manufacture turn-key systems that remove contaminants from the ultra-pure gases used in semiconductor manufacturing.

Entegris has long used the Sierra 780S UHP, but with skids requiring higher flow rates, they were faced with a capacity issue on some of their older skid designs that used 1” UHP piping. Working with Entegris, Sierra engineers designed an innovative and integrated solution with a special 1″ to 1.5″ expansion, a 1.5” 780S UHP flow meter, and a reduction back to the 1″ piping. This allowed Entegris to drop in the complete meter flow body section into their 1″ piping and measure a higher flow rate than could be measured with a standard 1″ 780S UHP.  Also by measuring their high flow rate in a 1.5″ flow body, they were able to keep the pressure drop lower than an equivalent 1” body.

Sierra Clearly Differentiates Through Accuracy & 4:1 Primary Standards

Use our stand against accuracy specsmanship games and our 4:1 primary standard calibration practices to your advantage in your next competitive situation.

Among our scientific instrument competitors, namely those that compete with the 100 Series, 800 Series and 50 Series, we have seen a great deal of discussion about accuracy and a great deal of “specsmanship” in the industry. Customers are generally confused as to what an accuracy statement really means to them. Accuracy goes far beyond a simple statement on a spec sheet where one competitor’s number is better than the other. Sierra’s firm stance on accuracy statements is no specsmanship, be honest and conservative, and back specs up with testing data and world class calibration equipment and methodology.

First, we want to remind you that our industry-leading Smart-Trak® 2 is available with improved calibration accuracies. When accuracy is critical,  your customers have a choice of the standard +/- 1% of full scale using our innovative Dial-A-Gas® Technology  or our premium A1 accuracy spec using actual gas calibration for accuracy of +/- 0.5% of full scale (available in the Smart-Trak 2 price list as the A1 option). A Smart-Trak® 2 with a premium A1 calibration is one of the most precise mass flow controllers on the market, because its design was focused on getting the physics correct. Excellent stability and performance results from a patented, inherently linear Laminar Flow Element (LFE) design, advanced Capillary Tube Platinum Sensor technology, a proprietary Frictionless-Hovering control valve and 4:1 Primary Standard Calibration.

Instrument design is only half the battle. Our philosophy is that the purpose of a flow meter is to transport excellent calibration accuracy to the field, thus providing the most accurate flow measurement information to the end user. In the case of an MFC, excellent calibration also means accurate flow control.  As a result, the accuracy of information provided by our flow meter to the customer depends a great deal on its calibration. Sierra maintains nearly 40 primary standard piston prover calibration systems worldwide.  Each and every capillary thermal instrument we manufacture (100 Series, 50 Series, 800 Series) is calibrated on a NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) traceable primary standard (our proprietary Sierra Cal=Bench® Piston Prover as well as our Cal=Trak product) with strict adherence to the 4:1 rule.

So, what is the 4:1 rule? You may not have heard of it because our competition prefers it that way. Sierra maintains the ISO 17025 mandated 4:1 ratio of propagated transducer uncertainties at every calibration step. What this means is that in a calibration accuracy propagation chain, the subject mass flow meter or controller device under test (DUT) can only be calibrated by a “standard ” that itself has an accuracy approaching one-fourth that of the DUT. This level of commitment to flow measurement accuracy requires that Sierra uses only primary standard piston provers with better than +/-0.2% accuracy.  Many of Sierra’s provers, especially those designated for the Smart-Trak 2 premium accuracy calibrations, (the A1 option) are better than +/- 0.125% accuracy.

All piston provers at Sierra are themselves calibrated using NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) traceable measurements of every parameter involved. Sierra does this in order to drive the initial uncertainties to the lowest possible level. As a result, this allows Sierra to claim (and prove) our standard Smart-Trak 2 accuracy statement of +/- 1% of full scale and A1 premium actual gas calibration accuracy of +/- 0.5% of full scale.

What makes “Primary Standard” calibration so much better than “Transfer Standard” calibration?  A primary gas flow standard uses only units of volume, which can be broken down into length and time to measure flow. Since both length and time are clearly defined by international standards, these are called primary measurement units. Sierra’s Cal=Bench piston prover uses a tube of fixed volume and measures the rise time of a piston inside the tube to determine the volumetric flow rate. By adding highly accurate temperature and pressure measurement, mass flow rate is obtained.  Many competitors use transfer standards as a calibration device–typically another flow meter of higher accuracy than the DUT. A transfer standard is typically a 2:1 device with accuracy only twice as good as the DUT.  And by definition, transfer standards are NOT based on primary units of measure, thus they can never be called primary.

Since many competitors, like Brooks, use transfer standards (i.e. Molbloc), as a calibration device, they must rely on specsmanship.  Misleading accuracy statements from the competition are in small print next to their accuracy number. Misleading statements may read, +/-1.0% of Full Scale (at calibration conditions).  This means that the supplier only claims the accuracy while it is in their calibration lab and on their standard, not while in the field in the actual application.  Other examples of misleading statements sre: “at operating conditions” or “at laboratory conditions.” These companies clearly do not follow the 4:1 rule. Once the instrument goes into the field, the accuracy specification is in question, and more importantly, the information the flow meter provides can be less dependable.

Sierra wins a lot of business because we do not make “at operating conditions’ type statements in our specs. Use our stand against accuracy specsmanship games and our 4:1 primary standard calibration practices to your advantage in your next competitive situation., Your Resource for ALL things Sierra!

Pioneered by Paul de Waal, Sierra’s Director of European Operations, has become a competitive advantage for salespeople through its wealth of global knowledge about everything “Sierra.” Over the last several years, Sierra staff and distributors have contributed to, helping to build it into a valuable source of information. Because it has proven to help win business, we want ALL global Reps and Distributors to have the competitive advantage. Go to and join the Sierra Community today!

On the Sierra Wiki you will find:
• In-depth application analysis with selling arguments and challenges for each application
• Global market data to help expand your knowledge about partners and competitors
• The most recent marketing collateral to distribute to your customers or customer lists
• Discussion with other reps and detailed product information

Password: Access the Sierra Wiki with the same password you used to access this newsletter. Or, request a new password be emailed to you by contacting

Visit the Sierra Wiki

Sierra Teamwork Heroes

As a long-time Sierra customer, FSI International , located in Minneapolis, MN, has focused on delivering semiconductor wafer cleaning products and processes that enable IC manufacturers to meet their cost, yield and device performance goals.  In a fascinating application, the Sierra Side-Trak 840H is used to control an argon carrier gas. The gas then carries frozen Argon crystals across the surface of a silicon wafer, effectively “sand blasting” contaminants away with the added benefit that the crystals then sublime into Argon gas.

John Smitherman

Terry Johnson


Last quarter, FSI found the increasing flows demanded by larger wafers caused oscillation in the valve of the 840H. As a result, the valve exhibited limited control, or would fail prematurely. For this long-standing Sierra customer, the Sierra engineering team, led by Chief Engineer John Smitherman, joined by our rep partner Terry Johnson of  Berg-Johnson Associates, immediately began searching for a solution. After several site visits and numerous conference calls and brainstorming sessions, the valve problem was found to be a combination of variables inherent in the system (very high flow at very low pressure), as well as a (vertical mount) 90 degree shift in the orientation of the flow controller.

To solve the problem, the team redesigned the 840H valve block so that the valve is oriented vertically with regard to gravity. This so called ‘L’ block design allowed FSI to retrofit their cabinets with updated units with no re-engineering of their system, extending the life of their product, and allowing for continued use of the Sierra 840H.

Success stories like this happen every day at Sierra.  We would like to thank all the “Teamwork Hero’s” involved in this great example of Sierra’s Passion For Flow!