Choosing a calibration service provider comes with a couple different options, and it’s not always easy to choose. First, you could send the equipment back to the manufacturer to be calibrated. Your second option is to send them to a third-party calibration lab. And finally, you have the option to start calibrating the equipment yourself. The last option is limited to few businesses and can be a costly operation to start. So, you’re down to two options: the original manufacturer or a third-party calibration lab. Below, we will compare the two to find what the best fit is for your company.
Your calibration service provider choice in the category will depend on the number of items you will need calibrated. If you only have one piece of equipment, then you could consider using the manufacturer. However, if you have a few pieces that need calibrated, you should consider using a third-party provider. Original manufacturers can have higher rates than third-party calibration labs, so you should check out prices before committing to the manufacturer.
- Turnaround Time
The difference between a manufacturer and a third-party calibration lab as your calibration service provider is turnaround time. Consider the volume of work a manufacturer has, between shipping orders, fulfilling orders AND calibrating items that come in. A third-party calibration lab solely calibrates instruments, meaning their turnaround times are quicker because every employee in the lab is focused on calibrating and getting it back to the customer.
- NIST Traceable
NIST traceability means that all of the equipment used in the calibration process can be traced back to a general standard. This means that the calibration will be as close to spec as humanly possible. Not all manufacturers are NIST traceable. If you operate in a highly regulated industry, then it is important that all of your equipment is calibrated against NIST standards.
- Streamlining Processes
Similarly to costs, if you have a lot of different equipment that needs to be calibrated, you may be better off with a third-party calibration service provider. You don’t want to send multiple instruments to multiple different manufacturers just to get everything calibrated. A third-party calibration lab can take different instruments from different manufacturers and calibrate all of it, getting all of your needs taken care of at one time and reduce down time.
ISO 17025 accreditation is a standard that a calibration lab chooses to be inspected for. It guarantees that the lab is organized, has visibility into operations, has trained and proficient technicians and that customers are taken care of. Some manufacturers may not have this accreditation, and it is important to ask when choosing your calibration service provider.
Although you may have the inclination to just jump at the first person who offers to calibrate your instruments, how hard can calibration be anyways?, there are a lot of contributing factors to consider. Obviously the upfront fees contribute, but you have to consider how much down time will occur when the instruments are being calibrated and how much money that downtime will cost your company.