A Single Source for Testing and Measurement

HBK is a global provider of integrated test, measurement, control and simulation solutions for the entire measurement chain. Derived from the merger of two historic European brands, it has announced the founding of a new Italian company. Let us get acquainted with it together

At the end of September an online conference was held to officially present HBK Italy, a specialist in measurement solutions, to the market. This new concern took shape last July from the merger of HBM and Bruel & Kjær. It offers a complete range of systems and solutions including the entire range of engineering and industrial applications in the mechanical, electrical and acoustic test and measurement fields. The virtual conference was attended by Gian Luca Marengo, Sales Manager and BoD member, HBK Italy, and Joe Vorih, President of HBK. As the latter pointed out, the testing sector is going through a great change: physical tests are playing an important role, but virtual tests are becoming increasingly important. This is creating a convergence between the two areas, and this is where HBK presents itself to clients as a valuable partner to tackle the challenge together.

QuantumX, a universal data acquisition system.
QuantumX, a universal data acquisition system.

When unity brings strength

But let us take a step back. In 2019 two companies of the Spectris plc group, with over seventy years of experience on European and international markets, joined forces to create HBK. As we mentioned before, we are talking about the German company HBM (Hottinger Baldwin Messtechnik, with products covering the entire measurement chain, from sensors to software) and the Danish company Brüel & Kjær Sound & Vibration Measurement (manufacturer of acoustic and vibration measuring instruments, specialising in industrial and environmental applications). As a result of the merger, HBK is positioned as a single company with an offering ranging from the physical world of sensors and acquisition systems for testing and measurement to the digital world of simulation, modelling and analysis software. Here are some figures: offices and distributors in over 50 countries, 3,000 employees including 300 engineers, 480 million sales in 2019, 35,000 customers. An impressive background which enabled it to organise this year, on October 13th-15th, the first edition of the HBK Product Physics Conference, an online event which brought together hundreds of experts, technicians and end-users from the test & measurement sector.

A widespread presence on the whole Italian territory

HBK Italy is therefore backed by realities with a solid past pointing to a common future. It can count on a team of about thirty persons, distributed between the headquarters in Milan and the offices located in the peninsula to ensure widespread coverage (Turin, Udine, Bologna, Rome, Bari). The fields of application are numerous: a very important one is that of transport, not only in terms of the automotive industry and its related sectors but also railways; equally traditional is that of agricultural machinery and construction. The company is present in the aerospace & defence field, working with important Italian centres. Very interesting partnerships are in place with scientific research centres (institutes and universities, among which the Turin Polytechnic stands out). Other important areas are production control machines, test and weighing systems and civil (environmental and structural) monitoring.

Sound Level Meter with app for management from PC and smartphone

But in order to experience first-hand what HBK has to offer, let us take a look at some of the top products, starting with sound level meters. There are several models in the range, each with activity specific features. The B&K 2245 model is ideal for noise surveys in the workplace, with the ability to generate reports to ensure compliance with regulations or to carry out specific surveys. Featuring class 1 measurement accuracy, it is easy to use thanks to a clear display, easy navigation, a docking station and a sturdy design. Protected from dust and water in an IP55 case, it is suitable for indoor and outdoor use. It can measure a wide range of parameters, managing statistics and frequency analysis. B&K 2245 has apps allowing management from smartphones and PCs in wireless mode: the Enviro Noise Partner mobile app with Work Noise Partner, downloadable from the App Store, enables control of all functions from the phone, while with the PC app allows quick data transfer to the computer, even with a USB cable.

The HBK Italy team has about thirty employees (photo taken before the Covid emergency).
The HBK Italy team has about thirty employees (photo taken before the Covid emergency).

Head and torso simulators

HBK Head and Torso Simulators (HATS) are specially designed for testing telecommunications devices such as earphones, headphones, microphones, speakers, smartphones and so on. Moreover, they are widely used in audiometric tests inside vehicles, for the measurement of noise levels in harsh operating environments, and for the measurement of noise emissions of industrial machinery, household appliances, power tools, etc.. Among the various models, the 4128D stands out, a torso equipped with telephone carrying equipment for on-site measurements and tests on smartphones and telecommunications devices, but also on hearing aids, hearing protection devices, headphones and so on. The 5128 is similar but offers more extensive testing capabilities, allowing for almost realistic testing and measurements over the entire range of audible frequencies up to 20 kHz.

Universal and distributable data acquisition system

Let us now turn to QuantumX, a universal data acquisition system, ideal for all test and measurement requirements. It can manage signals for the acquisition of physical quantities from sensors using different technologies: any sensor can be integrated and its digital value transferred via CAN bus or to an analogue voltage output (gateway). Currently marketed under the HBM brand, it has a modular design. Each module is a data acquisition unit which, in combination with HBM sensors and catman software, enables a complete and reliable test and measurement solution to be implemented.
The system is developed as an “open” solution and can also be integrated with other software platforms and the cloud. Application areas include laboratory tests and test benches, mobile data acquisition (automotive industry), aircraft, electric motors and energy storage tests, service/maintenance and structural monitoring.