How do I find a testing laboratory? 5 ways to carry out an industrial testing project
What are the options for performing laboratory testing? This article compares the advantages and disadvantages of the five most common methods.
Whether it is a vehicle, an electrical appliance, or foodstuff - almost every product development will sooner or later involve one or more laboratory tests. And in many other situations, too, such as in damage cases, a testing laboratory is needed that meets the respective requirements. Finding such a laboratory in time is usually not an easy task. What is the best approach here? In the following, we highlight the advantages and disadvantages of the five most common methods for carrying out a testing project.
1. Perform test in-house by yourself
“Home, sweet home.” If you have your own laboratory available or you can set one up, the fastest way to find a lab is to perform the required test yourself instead of searching for one at all.
Maximum control over the testing process
When you conduct a laboratory test yourself, you not only have the greatest transparency but also the most control over all phases and specifics of the testing project, including time flexibility according to your needs. This includes everything from the selection and calibration of test equipment to the precise timing of tests and the assurance of test results.
Independence from external testing service provider
At the same time, an in-house solution has the advantage of complete independence from an external testing laboratory. Thus, there is no need to consider in which time periods an external laboratory has free capacities for an order. The risk of a cancellation at short notice or unexpected internal problems of the service provider is also eliminated. And the monopoly position of a laboratory for certain tests, with correspondingly unfavorable conditions for the client, also plays no role.
No coordination of external testing service provider
You not only save the time of searching for an external service provider if you do the test yourself. The same is also done without the time-consuming coordination, which includes briefing, sample shipment, correspondence, and billing.
Limited skills and capacity
Even if you already have your own testing laboratory, it is impossible to keep all conceivable testing capabilities and equipment in your own lab. Moreover, even a laboratory with top-notch equipment has its limitations and cannot always meet the company's full testing requirements.
High investment costs
If your in-house laboratory lacks the tools required to conduct tests, high investments are required to procure the missing equipment. Additional qualified employees are also expensive. This is usually not economical, especially if a particular test is rarely needed.
High time expenditure for new methods
In addition, high expenditure of time arises in particular for the implementation of new test methods. Not only for training personnel and procuring equipment but also for accreditation processes, such as for new testing standards.
Another disadvantage of internally conducted testing is the limited independence of testing personnel. While external service providers produce independently determined and objective test results, such independence does not exist by definition for internal personnel.
2. Cooperate with existing partner labs
Many companies have already been working with one or more partner laboratories for some time, to which they submit all their testing orders. If the cooperation has been satisfactory so far, it is obvious to continue this and have tests carried out by the known laboratory partners.
The time it would take to search for a new service provider is also saved by choosing a trusted laboratory partner. A testing project's modalities, procedures, and point of contact have all been outlined and established, making it possible to begin new projects, complete them, and submit invoices right away with no "familiarization time" at all.
Known test conditions
The implementation of a project via existing partners is not only faster. There is also a certain degree of certainty regarding the test conditions and the result. The costs for testing have often already been negotiated in the past, which makes it much easier to calculate project costs at an early stage. And if the quality of the testing services has been convincing in the past, there are usually no "unpleasant surprises" to be expected with the existing partner in the future.
Risk due to dependence
The general awarding of all orders to one or more partner laboratories also means a certain dependence on them. There are various reasons why a laboratory partner may not be available for a required test at short notice and unexpectedly. These include, for example, the competitive situation with other clients who compete with you for the testing capacities of the laboratories. But unexpected technical problems, such as fire damage, or staff absences can also put your partner laboratories out of action at short notice, even just when you urgently need a test.
No market overview
If you work with the same testing laboratories over and over again and do not obtain comparative offers from alternative laboratories, you will never have an overview of current market prices for the testing services you need. Your partner labs, on the other hand, will have no incentive to adjust their negotiated conditions with you to the possibly lower prices of competitors. Thus, you may be paying too much for your testing.
3. Search for new labs via Google
Whether on a desktop computer or smartphone, online search engines such as Google are now one of the very first places to go for any kind of research. Websites of testing laboratories can also be found quickly in this way.
Quick access to lab websites
All it takes is a few presses on your PC or smartphone keyboard, or a short voice command to your voice assistant (Siri, Google Assistant, etc.), and you will get a search results list with websites of several labs. These usually have contact data available, which you can ideally use to get direct help with your query, easily and without having to register.
No neutral search results
Even though search engine algorithms like Google's basically try to display the most useful results possible to the searcher, one thing is clear: the more money and work a lab invests in search engine optimization and advertising, the higher up it will appear in your search results. Unfortunately, this also means competent labs with small marketing budgets can easily escape your gaze. You will therefore not gain a transparent market overview with Google.
Time-consuming search and approach
The more specific your requirements, the more time your Google search will take - and a search results list of several laboratory websites alone will not get you there, unfortunately. Before you can get a quote for your testing needs, you need to find the contact details of a suitable contact person on each of these websites and contact each of them separately with your request. Both by phone and by e-mail, this correspondence takes a lot of time.
Many laboratories set a good example and present a clear overview of the services offered, the equipment available, and the test standards supported on their website. Unfortunately, this is not the case for all laboratories, so an objective comparison of several laboratories according to uniform criteria is often only possible with considerable additional effort.
4. Search for new laboratories via directories such as DAkkS database
Directories of selected testing laboratories can be found online in various places. The German Accreditation Body (DAkkS), for example, provides access to a directory of laboratories accredited by it.
For the respective area covered by these directories, you will usually find an (almost) complete database. If you are looking for accredited laboratories in Germany, for example, you can find what you are looking for in the DAkkS database. With different search parameters, such as limitations by federal state, the large database can also be made more manageable with a little patience.
Limited search filters and parameters
Unfortunately, the search parameters in the directories are sometimes not very intuitive, and it is often not easy, especially for inexperienced users, to find a suitable service provider from the long lists of laboratories. Searching for a specific test standard, for example, is often only possible to a limited extent or not at all on such platforms.
Although the directories (almost) completely map a certain group of laboratories, this also means that all service providers that do not belong to this subgroup will not appear in the search results. Many specialized laboratories that are not accredited by DAkkS cannot be found in the DAkkS directory, nor can foreign laboratories that only have accreditations from other accreditation bodies. In order to also take these into account in the search, the only option left when choosing this variant is to combine several directories, if available.
Time-consuming search and approach
As with Google search, the same applies here: The more specific your requirements, the more tedious the search. And the contact persons you find via DAkkS and Co. also have to be contacted and briefed separately, which can take a considerable amount of time depending on the number of laboratories.
5. Search for new labs via testxchange
One variant that represents a middle ground between "not searching at all" and "searching" is the use of the online platform testxchange. Here it is possible to enter the details of the test you are looking for once via an online form and then receive applications from suitable labs
Time saving due to one-time request
This means that you do not need to research any laboratories or laboratory contact data with this variant. The separate briefing of several service provider candidates is also completely eliminated. Instead, you enter what kind of testing you need once via an online form, including all the details that are important to you, such as the desired testing period, test object, test standards, etc.. In this way, your request is made directly accessible to a large number of testing laboratories without any further effort. Those laboratories that are interested in your request will then proactively contact you. To further accelerate this process, testxchange even offers free telephone support to help you formulate your test request completely and in a way that appeals to laboratories.
Transparent market overview
With a testxchange request, you can reach both large and small laboratories, regardless of their marketing budget. This gives you the chance to compare the offers of different competitors in order to select the most suitable one for you. Testing laboratories registered on testxchange also have a laboratory profile that can be viewed online and is structured in the same way for all laboratories, making it even easier to compare their range of services.
Unlike restricted directories such as the DAkkS database, testxchange lists almost all types of testing laboratories from different countries worldwide, both with and without accreditation. This allows you to easily consider all these laboratories for your assignment and communicate with them via a one platform. If you wish, you can also search the large testxchange database of thousands of labs manually with numerous filtering and sorting options such as lab category, equipment, and location.
Efficient communication via one platform
Instead of having to laboriously sort through emails from different laboratories and telephone logs, all communication relating to a testing project can be bundled on a browser-based platform at testxchange. This means that this tool is also suitable for clients who wish to continue working with their trusted partner laboratory and merely improve the communication processes.
Easy organization of testing projects
Thanks to the points mentioned above, testxchange not only makes it easy to carry out your current testing project. Completed testing projects are also automatically and conveniently archived on the platform so that details can be viewed again at any time if required. And even future testing projects are made easier, as current and completed test requests can be used as templates for new requests.
No coverage of all laboratories
Even though the international testxchange database is growing continuously, the platform currently still does not cover all testing laboratories worldwide by a long shot. For example, if you are looking for a laboratory in a specific non-European country, you may have to resort to other search methods. In addition, laboratories are in principle free to have their profile removed from testxchange, so at no point can absolutely complete coverage of the entire testing services market be achieved.
Conclusion: All common methods of carrying out testing projects have individual advantages and disadvantages. If you have a lot of time available as well as very specific and demanding testing requirements, it makes sense to combine several approaches. In all other cases, a free inquiry via testxchange is usually the most efficient and effective option to get started. If this does not lead to the desired success, you still have the option of using one of the other methods afterwards.
What is your experience with the implementation of testing projects? Are there any effective methods that you miss in our article? We look forward to your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org!