7 Tips for Choosing a Metrology Lab

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How does one choose a Metrology Lab?

We will outline why this question is critical to your success. There is no universal answer to choosing a metrology lab; what is important to you may be inconsequential to someone else.

Typically, once a lab is chosen as a supplier to a company that relationship can become exclusive and last for years. Trust is built, understanding of methods and workflows combine, and extra considerations are offered (discounts, expedited work, and extra doughnuts). Something has to go very wrong for this relationship to sever; there are many horror stories in the industry of missed deadlines or bad data provided that lead to monetarily incalculable problems. So, what factors should be at the core of what you’re looking for in a lab?

Accreditation

There are several types of accreditation for laboratories. Does your chosen lab have an accreditation? If not, how can you trust the qualifications of that lab? If so, how broad or specific is that accreditation? Are their reports and equipment NIST traceable?

Suppliers who need impartial and reliable testing & calibration backed by a quality system should seek out labs accredited to ISO 17025.

The ISO/IEC 17025 standard stipulates the criteria whereby calibration laboratories are deemed to be technically competent to perform the various types of measurements that they have listed on their scope of accreditation.  The audit is rigorous and is designed to show evidence that the laboratory maintains & utilizes proper calibration procedures correctly, maintains the proper environment, and that each individual technician has the proven skills to perform the calibration correctly.

The ISO 9001 certification applies to an entire organization and not just a testing lab. It’s an effective tool for management, but does not include the necessary technical content to show that testing, inspection, and calibration data is reliable. Labs that perform calibration – and do not make products – need to meet ISO 17025 requirements and not necessarily those of ISO 9001.

Sources: https://www.iso.org/standard/66912.html, https://www.iso.org/iso-9001-quality-management.html

Turnaround Time

In manufacturing time reigns supreme. Entire manufacturing operations can shut down while waiting for new certifications. Programs come to a halt while waiting to know how molds need to be tuned. Shipments around the globe haven been delayed while waiting for qualification data. Entire budgets can shift in order to assist timing constraints. Can you trust that your measurement source can get things done as quickly as possible the first time? Do they offer expedite services? Are they flexible with their working hours to account for weekend or third shift needs?

Pricing

From our experience the only factor as important as timing is pricing. Does your measurement lab have a pricing structure? Are their rates competitive? How do they handle in-house work versus off-site work? Do they offer options like rebate programs or preferred supplier discounts?

Understanding of ASME Dimensioning and Tolerancing

Does your chosen lab have a deep understanding of measurement standards? Are they capable of interpreting difficult GD&T, maneuvering around complex drawings, and defending results? Are they experienced enough to provide above and beyond by troubleshooting with data, proposing alternative GD&T and drawing updates, and taking on the most difficult projects?

The Y14.5 standard is considered the authoritative guideline for the design language of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T.) It establishes symbols, rules, definitions, requirements, defaults, and recommended practices for stating and interpreting GD&T and related requirements for use on engineering drawings, models defined in digital data files, and in related documents.
GD&T is an essential tool for communicating design intent — that parts from technical drawings have the desired form, fit, function and interchangeability. By providing uniformity in drawing specifications and interpretation, GD&T reduces guesswork throughout the manufacturing process — improving quality, lowering costs, and shortening deliveries.

Source: https://www.asme.org/products/codes-standards/y145-2018-dimensioning-and-tolerancing

Equipment & Software

The reliability of data rests upon the accuracy of the equipment and knowledge of technicians providing that data. Does the equipment at your chosen lab meet your accuracy, sizing, and capacity  needs? Does it have a diversity of measurement equipment and software to meet all of your current and potential projects? Is software upgraded to the newest versions for the most capability? Does the lab’s equipment and software blend with yours for data and program sharing?

Quality & Professionalism

Data lasts forever. Haven Metrology regularly receives questions about reports from several years ago by people that weren’t involved in the project at the time. Can this data be easily understood? Is it formatted well and looks like it was created by a qualified lab? Is it free from clerical errors and can present well in meetings?

Additional Services

What additional services does your chosen lab provide? Do they store your data long term? Is their data sharing capability easy to use? Do they offer delivery and pick up? Are they readily available for conversations and conference calls? Do they provide training or on-site support?

If you have any questions about the services Haven Metrology offers don’t hesitate to reach out. We are a full service, accredited, and proven competitive 3rd party Metrology Lab that has measured everything from the aerospace and medical industries to historical preservation and inventor creations.

 

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