Monday, December 9, 2013

Not All Testing Labs Are Created Equal

Wondering how to choose the right lab to test your product? First, check into the lab’s expertise and product knowledge. For example, if you need your new deck board product tested, don’t hire a lab that’s never performed deck board testing before.              
Conduct a thorough search
Determine the lab’s full range of capabilities and accreditation. You can perform a quick Internet search to find labs capable of performing the testing you’re interested in. For example, ASTM International’s website provides a lab directory in which you can perform laboratory searches by entering text, selecting types of testing services and/or types of lab services, and defining the geographical region. 
If you need the testing lab to be accredited, start by searching for labs that have your tests of interest within their scope of accreditation. To do this, use the search tools on the various accreditation websites, including International Accreditation Service (IAS)ACLASSAmerican Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) and Laboratory Accreditation Bureau(L-A-B).
It’s important to understand that lab capability and accreditation do not always go hand in hand, so be sure to know what you need when you start your search in order to reach your end goal.
If you’re having testing performed for certification purposes, it may be necessary to use an accredited lab. The last thing you want is to spend time and money having tests performed, only to have them rejected by a certification body because they weren’t performed by an accredited testing lab. This issue can be avoided by discussing this topic with your certification body before looking into testing labs.
What's next
Once you’ve pared down the list of possible labs based on expertise, capabilities and accreditation needs, there are a few additional factors to consider. You probably want a ballpark idea of the costs involved. This is a good time to request quotes from each of the labs on your list, which will also give you an initial idea of the kind and quality of service you can expect to receive. For example, companies A and C get back to you very quickly to discuss your request and the specifics required to produce a quote and testing schedule, whereas companies B and D both take a week to respond.  
Another factor to consider is the proximity of the lab, especially if you’re going to perform a large amount of testing and want to witness various tests throughout the project.
In summary
When choosing the right testing lab to help ensure a successful product launch, do your homework. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Check out the lab’s knowledge and expertise, list of capabilities, scope of accreditation and type of customer service. And consider them all in terms of both present and future needs. Lastly, factor in such considerations as cost, turnaround time and location.

NTA is an accredited, third-party testing agency capable of providing a wide range of testing, inspection and certification services. For more information about what we have to offer you, contact us.

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