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Scientist places a sample on an analytical balance

Is Outsourcing Calibration and Metrology Services Right for You?

Experienced partners can ensure your lab maintains quality and efficiency

by
Roark Galloway

Roark Galloway is the technical solutions lead for Full Spectrum Lab Services from CBRE. He earned his B. S. in Chemistry from University of California, Davis 1988. Roark began his...

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For many laboratory managers, efficiency in a post-pandemic environment is a priority when looking at operations. Labs large or small, independent of their specific science practice, will be running multiple systems in their department. Often these systems are provided by multiple vendors, and although it’s feasible for a laboratory manager to ensure each of these is working to the desired calibrations, this is an area many labs are choosing to outsource.

Using a third party for calibration and metrology is an efficient way to ensure your lab has access to experienced engineers who can conduct testing for equipment quickly to keep labs operational. Critically, it also ensures unbiased, independent qualification for the performance of the various systems in use. 

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Typically, calibration and metrology services will check the accuracy of any analytical laboratory system to validate they are working to manufacturer guidance and measuring results as expected. Examples include testing delivery volumes, monitoring temperature readings of components, or checking the supply voltage being delivered to a piece of equipment is at the correct level. New technologies and advancements in metrology are transforming the accuracy and efficiency of measurements. Two notable advancements labs are making use of are:

...a good multi-vendor service will offer a comprehensive range of services covering any configurations of systems and software.

  1. Automation: the automation of many measurement processes is reducing the potential for human error and increasing accuracy. Instead of labs requiring manual data transfer between results and a particular record, a qualification protocol can be run through your system and take all measurements, capturing the data in real time.
  2. Virtual assistance: remote monitoring and control of measurement systems is now possible thanks to mixed reality tools, such as Microsoft’s HoloLens. It allows experts on any particular qualification test to provide guidance from anywhere in the world, virtually via a headset, giving immediate technical support and resolution. 

Both of these advancements can ensure labs get up to speed fast and stay operational. For labs looking to dramatically increase efficiency, third-party services with multi-vendor expertise can also help lab managers identify which systems are working most effectively for a particular experiment<em-dash>what kind of methods are you running? Do you require a dedicated system for one particular experiment, or can systems be more efficiently combined through data transfer?

If you are considering outsourcing to a calibration service provider, here are a few points to consider: 

Expertise: check that your provider has expertise in the specific equipment and instruments that your lab uses or may wish to use in future. 

Multi-vendor service: a good multi-vendor service will offer a comprehensive range of services covering any configurations of systems and software. 

Support: choose a vendor who will offer good customer service including on-site and virtual calibration, with an established track record of meeting client needs and timely resolution of any issues.

Reputation: choose a calibration service provider with a good reputation, as well as accreditation from recognized bodies (e.g., ISO) to ensure rigorous quality standards.

Price: consider the cost of the services, as well as any additional fees or expenses, such as shipping and handling.

By considering all these factors, you can ensure you’ve chosen a calibration service provider that meets your needs and delivers high quality and efficiency.