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Matt’s Message: Be a JET!

Inspired by The Age of Speed by Vince Poscente…

We live in the Age of Speed. There are four types of people in today’s new and dynamic global business economy. First, there are “balloons,” which float where the wind takes them. Balloons are PhD’s, thinkers, researchers, professors and innovators. Companies need balloons to push untethered innovation. The spirit of balloons is captured in Sierra’s mission statement of leadership in QD PICS.  I = innovation and creativity. The spirit of innovation and creativity at Sierra make it a balloon.

But there are three other types of organizations and people that need to be compared and contrasted to complete this picture.  Matt Olin, President of Sierra talks about them. Enjoy the video…

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Innovation: New Product News

In keeping with our vision of becoming the most innovative flow company in the world, we continue to develop new products and offer feature enhancements to our existing product lines.

Smart-Trak 50 Series: Medium Flow
We have been selling the Medium Flow (0-200slpm) version of the 50 Series for nearly 8-months now. We have seen great success already. One of the drivers for getting the 50 Series Medium Flow to market was the China Solar Cell furnace industry discussed in the “killer app” section of this newsletter.

Smart-Trak 50 Series Med Flow (200 slpm MFC)

This Chinese diffusion furnace company tried the 100 Series Medium Flow and loved the features, but the price point didn’t quite work. We previewed the 50 Series Low Flow products for them and they immediately encouraged us to develop a Medium Flow version of the controller with an aluminum body to save on cost. We immediately built that version and have sold over 800 units for this application to date, with many more to come. By extending the same high quality and performance at an economical price to ever wider flow ranges, we hope to open the 50 Series to more and more OEM applications.

We are now ready to announce the global rollout of the ST 50 Medium Flow controller. Available only in an aluminum version, it offers a lower cost 200 slpm MFC alternative to it’s big brother, the ST 100 Medium Flow controller. Like the ST 100 Medium Flow, we have no immediate plans to develop a meter version.

Price & Delivery:
Base priced at $1850, it is priced $287 less than the ST 100 Medium Flow (0-200 slpm version). For larger volumes in China, we were able to offer it for under $1000. We are planning a formal product launch for it next month.

The ST 50 Medium Flow shares the same core sensor, LFE and valve technology found in our award-winning Smart-Trak 100 Series and its Low Flow 50 Series brother. Our 50 Series has a standard accuracy of +/- 1.5% of full scale. The flexible and powerful direct-acting control valve sets it apart from the competition by minimizing leak-by, while offering a 300 ms response time to setpoint changes at +/- 0.25% repeatability.

Innova-Sonic 210i Portable Ultrasonic Meter

Innova-Sonic Portable: New 210i
We recently released our next generation Portable Transit-Time Ultrasonic flow meter, the Innova-Sonic® 210i. The 210i delivers powerful new features at a very economical price. The Innova-Sonic® 210i features a high-powered ultrasonic pulse with improved digital signal processing, thereby enabling the unit to use just one set of transducers over a wide range of pipe sizes. The major improvement in the 210i is the user-friendly tactile pushbutton interface with large digital display that replaces the outdated Palm/Treo used in the previous version. This significantly simplifies set-up and data collection.

Like its predecessor, the 210i comes with a fully field-configurable 4-20mA current loop analog output, 2GB SD memory card for data logging, and a suite of powerful yet extremely user-friendly programming menus that simplify data analysis. Complex totalization functions are standard, including parallel operation of positive, negative and net flow totalizers.

Improvements have also been made to the sensor racks. While still magnetic, easy to use and re-use, chain straps are also included for non-magnetic pipes. This replaces the sharp and often unwieldy ribbon cables found in the last version.  A long-lasting (up to 16 hours between charges) 11 VDC Lithium-ion battery and charger are included.

Everything necessary for making the measurement (meter, transducers, field mounting hardware, coupling compound…etc.) is packaged in a rugged carrying case for easy transport. All of this is available at a price significantly below competitive meters.

The 210i features an accuracy of +/-1.0% of reading, a wide operating temperature range -40F to 176F (-40C to 80C) and a bi-directional flow range of 0 to 40 fps liquids (0 to 12 mps). The flow meter can be used for a wide range of pipe sizes from 1.0” to 48” (25mm to 1200mm). The built-in totalizers record daily, monthly and yearly totalized flow. Totalized flow for the last 64 days and months and even over the last 5 years can be viewed.

Price & Delivery:
In the spirit of our mission of QD PICS, Sierra traditionally competes first based on value, leading with our performance and quality and not necessarily price. With the Innova-Sonic 210i, we are able to give great value and a great price point.

Through innovative design, we have been able to deliver cutting edge features, while at the same time significantly reduce the price. The original 210 base price was $5,900. The 210i is now much more competitive at $4,950 USD (all inclusive).

Solar…the Ultimate Killer App!

For most of us, landing an OEM for hundreds of MFCs per year is a dream account. But, imagine selling thousands or even tens of thousands of MFCs to the same customer each year. This is happening in the solar industry today and Sierra is taking a leadership role.

Making electricity from sunlight shows huge global potential and is certainly a major facet of Sierra’s Clean Energy campaign.  This process is called photovoltaics, the technical term for generating electrical power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity using semiconductors.  As of 2010, solar photovoltaics generated electricity in more than 100 countries. While comprising a tiny fraction of the total global power-generating capacity from all sources, solar is the fastest growing power-generation technology in the world. In short, we’re looking at the classic opportunity to “get in on the ground floor” with Sierra products.

Conventional Solar Cells
There are really two solar cell markets…conventional and thin film.  Making a solar cell the conventional way (mono-crystalline silicon cells) involves growing a silicon crystal, cutting and polishing it. Sierra’s flow controllers are an important part of the growth and polishing processes. In the most widely used crystal pulling systems, stability of the system is the most important. Since the crystal takes a long time to grow, any variation in temperature of the atmosphere inside the furnace can render the crystal unusable. In this process, the new Sierra Smart Trak® 50 Series Medium Flow controller is used to maintain a constant purge flow of Argon into the furnace. This leads to an inert atmosphere (keeping impurities out of the growing crystal), while the constant flow rate causes complete mixing and thus equalizes temperatures throughout the furnace. Sierra currently has hundreds of ST 50 Medium Flow instruments installed in this application in China (currently the world’s leading manufacturer of solar cells), with the possibility of of sales of thousands more.

Pulling the Crystal

The ST 50 Medium Flow is ideal for relatively high flows of two gases (Argon or Nitrogen is typically used) that do not require high accuracy, but very high repeatability. Units must be economical and simple to control. Above all, they must be stable and reliable.

Polishing Processes

Once the crystal has been grown, it must be cut into slices for the cell and then polished. One polishing process uses frozen Argon particles in an Argon carrier gas to “blast” any imperfections from the surface of the crystal. The Side-Trak® 840H High Flow is used to control the carrier gas flow rate. This application was discussed in detail in the previous issue of this newsletter. Sierra supplies hundreds of these 840H controllers to FSI, the leading manufacturer of these polishing machines.

FSI Antares® Cryokinetic Cleaning System

Thin-Film Solar Cells

A second way to make solar cells is using thin films. These have material costs that are trending lower (though still not as cheap as the above), but the initial tooling is more expensive. They are also not as efficient as mono-crystalline cells, so you must make more of them. This technology is most common in Europe and is still developing.

Smart-Trak 2 100 Series High Flow Controller

Many different photovoltaic materials are deposited with various deposition methods (PVD, sputtering, CVD…all common applications for Sierra) on a variety of substrates. Thin-film solar cells are categorized according to the photovoltaic material used:

Amorphous silicon (a-Si) and other thin-film silicon (TF-Si)

Cadmium Telluride (CdTe)

Copper indium gallium selenide (CIS or CIGS)

Dye-sensitized solar cell (DSC) and other organic solar cells.

Sputtering is a form of Physical Vapor Deposition. Smart-Trak controls the sputtering gas flow rate. Obviously, those specialized gases require flow controllers with compatible wetted materials. The Smart-Trak® 2 – 100 Series is perfect for this application. Precise control of the carrier gases for the various semiconductor doping compounds is critical, as is control over purging the chamber of these gases between deposition steps. These units require high accuracy and linearity. Digital communications are required to network these controllers into complex semiconductor tools.  Finally, since much research is still being conducted to optimize the recipes to manufacture these various thin films, Dial-a Gas® is a useful option as well.

HART Communication for 640S/ 780S

Sierra is pleased to announce the release of a limited version of HART communications protocol for our Steel-Mass 640S and Flat-Trak 780S. Because of the physical layout of the PCA’s used, HART is limited to
• E2 Enclosure only
• P2 (24 VDC) power only
• NAA (non-agency approval) only

This HART is READ ONLY for the following variables:
• Instantaneous flow
• Totalized flow
• User Full Scale
• K factor

Flow units are grams, kilograms or pounds per second/minutes/hour (g, kg, lb per s, m, H). No other units are currently possible.

We realize this is a very limited implementation of HART, but this is meant only as a stop-gap measure using off-the-shelf components to allow the use of our current 640S/780S line in certain applications. We have similar limited solutions for Profibus PA and Foundation Fieldbus (PB and FF in the 2010 price list).

In the meantime, we continue to develop true HART, Fieldbus, Profibus PA, DeviceNet and other digital communications with full device descriptions for our upcoming next generation QuadraTherm 640i & 780i immersible thermal line and our Smart Trak 2 – 100 Series line of digital mass flow meters and controllers.

HART is available now. To order use “-HART” at the end of the model code. The price is a $160 adder. Again, please keep in mind, the limitations on configuration and units as described above.

The Frank Mango Story, Leveraging Online Sales!

Building on Matt’s message, you are the captain of your personal JET. Your product knowledge, personality, motivation and industry expertise are always the glue that tethers you to your customers and closes deals. Take the following story for example. These types of stories are happening every day at Sierra, and they not only build your reputation for responsiveness, but they make you money.

The Frank Mango Story: Believe it or not, some customers do think about flow meters on the weekends…some late at night. Frank Mango, CEO & Founder of Petroleum Habitats, an R&D start-up, was just this type of customer. He needed a mass flow meter, so he did what all of us would do, he Googled ‘mass flow meter’, and due to Sierra’s major push into SEO (Search Engine Optimization) over the last several years, found our online store immediately.

Frank ordered an in-stock Sierra Top-Trak 822 (there were 12 available at the time) at 11:17pm on a Sunday night, got his order acknowledgment immediately, shipping confirmation the next morning, and received the unit days later. And Omicron, our sales representative in Texas, received full commission on the order.

Mango said later, “Great selection. I found what I needed fast and it arrived in a few days. What more can I ask for.”

We built our online sales platform for the segment of customers like Frank Mango, to help reach any and all customers, especially the ones who need meters NOW. If managed correctly, Sierra’s online platform can help you be more of a JET– reach prospects with minimal effort, increase your customer service, and give you a 24/7 salesperson to close more deals.

4 Ways to Harness Online Sales to BE A JET:

1. Harness Sierra’s online sales platform to increase your responsiveness advantage: Don’t lose potential customers to aggressive catalogue houses. Send your prospect a link to our online in-stock products.

2. Improve time management: Spend your valuable time on the many customers who require your expertise. Utilize our online platform to service customers who are comfortable with the internet, ordering online and can self-specify. Use the online sales configurator to guide these lower volume customers to purchase online. Your internet savvy customer will be happy and you will save time on paperwork. No more ADS sheets to fill out.

3. Fast, real-time communication makes your customers feel good, so you look good: All customer communications for an online order are real-time, electronic, and accurate, so you don’t have to call the factory and waste time tracking orders. The moment an order is submitted, customers get an email confirmation and within moments of shipment, a shipping confirmation email with FedEx tracking number and shipment data is sent. You are copied on all communications.

4. Easily acquire new customers: 95% of our current online orders have come from new-to-Sierra customers, which become your new customers. Reach out to all online customers for up-selling, selling other lines, and building your customer list.

New Sierra Blog: Let’s Talk Flow!

As part of the Sierra team, please help us grow our community into a dynamic group of recognized flow experts. The more we interact with each other, the more powerful this community will be for you and your customers. Let’s begin…

We recently launched our public Blog where members of Team Sierra write about various aspects of flow. Our blog is a great way to communicate about applications, the benefits of various flow technologies, and discuss industry trends. It is our platform for branching out into social media and the hub of our developing Sierra online community. Our vision is to create a dialogue about flow, network with the global flow community, and ultimately position ourselves as influencers in anything relating to fluid flow measurement and control. When customers think about flow, we want Sierra to come to mind immediately.

Our Blog is global–we have bloggers from three continents who are excited to produce a meaningful dialogue with customers through this medium.

5 Ways to Join Sierra’s Flow Community!

1. Read and comment on our most recent blog posts. To view all blog posts, visit

2. Add a link to our blog on your homepage to increase your presence as an industry expert within our community.

3. Sign up for an RSS feed of our blog, so you get real-time updates on our most recent posts. Just click the RSS feed icon to activate your feed.

4.  Share interesting blog content on Twitter, Linkedin or Facebook. Just click the icons on the blog post to share to your social media outlets.

5. Follow us on Twitter at

Thanks for your help making our Sierra flow community a huge success. If you would like to become a guest blogger, please email us at with your topic.

Paul’s Selling Tips!

Listen to Paul de Waal, Managing Director of Sierra Europe, as he discusses the world of flow. Topics include: finding profitable applications, online sales, growth markets, market size evaluations and the advantages of Smart-Trak Compod. Paul’s Selling Secrets

Listen to this interesting and educational discussion with one of Sierra’s best.


Web Research, SierraWiki Open Up Bioreactor Market, Deliver Sales

As you well know, not all sales orders just fall into our lap.  Most have a history and are the result of the personal initiative and hard work of effective sales people. Walewijn van der Weegen, a top performer at ABT, our distributor in the Netherlands, is a great example.

Inspired by an article he read while doing market research on about a company called Applicon, a Bioreactor manufacturer, Walewijn went searching for Biochemical companies in the Netherlands. He started by Googling “Biological Systems” and the top result was

He discovered the following: “Koppert is the international market leader in the field of biological crop protection and natural pollination. Koppert has an international reputation for reliability, innovation and quality. The ongoing research and continuous production of beneficial pollinators contribute to the development of sustainable agriculture and horticulture world-wide. An important characteristic of Koppert is their involvement in the everyday world of agricultural businesses. ‘Quality’ means that biological systems do what is important: protect the crop without unnecessary problems and minimum chemical corrections. Growing a product that can meet the standards of your partners in the chain.”

Like most highly successful companies, Koppert is global. They’ve got offices and production facilities all over the world. Their website says: “Koppert’s principal place of business in the Netherlands has been active since 1967, 250 people are employed in production, sales, logistics, consultancy and research. Koppert also has several subsidiaries for sales and/or production.”

The lesson learned here is that is a treasure trove of information. Through web research on an application he discovered on SierraWiki, he located the office in his area, gave them a call, and found out that they had a production department. He called, asked to talk to the Head of Engineering, explained Sierra’s success in similar applications, and the rest is history. Is there a Koppert branch or another company making Biological Systems near you? Koppert’s profile can be found on the the Sierra website.  If you contact them, please update the information on that wiki, so that other Reps and Distributors can benefit.

More About the Koppert Application…

A fundamental part of manufacturing biological crop protection products includes growing special funguses and micro-organisms in a bioreactor. It is like a small farm where you provide animals with the best environment for reproduction. By monitoring the temperature and mass air flow into the reactor, they are able to make necessary adjustments to assure optimum development of the population.

The reactor must constantly be pressurized to prevent contamination of the population by bacteria or other micro-organisms. That is the second task of the air mass flow controller in this 24/7 process. Each batch requires a different period of time, varying from 3 days to 3 weeks. After this period, the contents is transferred to a larger reactor and the same process starts all over again. This reactor can produce up to 40,000 litres of biochemical pesticide. Oxygen availability of all components in the system during this part of the process is extremely critical. In the event that the airflow stops, the population can die or get contaminated and up to 9 weeks of work can be lost within an hour.

Koppert had been purchasing their reactors from China. Unfortunately the reactor’s air control systems were not meeting their high standards. Koppert was in the process of planning to upgrade their systems when Walewijn called, got a better understanding of their needs and recommended the Sierra Smart-Trak 100 Series with Compod.

The system is fully computer controlled and all measured data is collected. The Sierra 100 Series units were set up to fully communicate with the Modbus system. This made the installation, wiring, etc. simple and straight forward. By the time Koppert expanded their system, Sierra had released the Smart-Trak 50, a more economical version of the Smart-Trak 100. When Koppert experienced a budget cut, the 50 Series became the ideal solution. On their two large reactors, Koppert now uses a Sierra Model 780S units in combination with a Bürkert valve to control the airflow. As the company grows, they intend to purchase more Sierra units for their reactors.

Rep Hero’s

In Mid-April, we celebrated RM Controls of Southern California for being Sierra’s #1 Sales rep in North America with sales of nearly $2,000,000 for 2010. The Mega Bonus Weekend occurred on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula, near Sierra headquarters and was a fantastic event. We enjoyed two days with all RM team members and their spouses–wonderful dinners, spa treatments, and some golf at the world famous Pebble Beach Golf Links.  Thank you RM Controls!!!

(From Left) Chuck Ratcliffe, Roy Ratcliffe (Owner), Mark Moffitt