How to Choose a Pipette Calibration Service Provider

Contracting with a service provider to properly and correctly service your laboratory pipettes is an important step in the security of your laboratory liquid handling system.  Unfortunately, there are many different providers to choose from with widely varying procedures and competencies.  Even among accredited providers, quality can vary from poor to excellent, so it pays to make this decision carefully.  Be careful!  Choosing the wrong provider can cause added expense and problems. 

Here are a few things to consider when choosing who will be cleaning and calibrating your pipettes:

What is your Goal?

First, when seeking service for your pipettes, decide what your requirements and goals are.  Researchers often require a simple service that provides them the security that their pipettes are not the cause of an experiment gone wrong.  Accredited or compliant laboratories, required to calibrate their pipettes, need sound protection against unscheduled audits and complete data. 

Few labs consider the fact that a service provider is able to partner with them to safeguard their lab against the residual spending and waste resulting from inaccurate pipette measurements.  These types of providers go well beyond calibration, and are able to secure your entire liquid handling system including the integrity of the tips being used, pipette techniques used in the lab, and the accuracy of your pipettes. What are your priorities?

Buyer Beware

The great variety of pipette service providers makes choosing the best provider  for your lab a challenging and potentially confusing project. There are traveling providers who visit your lab, pipette send-out services, and everything in between. The level of quality can vary significantly.  Here are some important factors to consider:

1. Insist on a compliant service provider

With a variety of different service providers, servicing pipettes in a variety of ways, insist on hiring a provider that complies with correct pipette calibration procedure.  Companies can be accredited to ISO: 17025, and actually service your pipettes incorrectly.  ISO:17025 is a general document that applies to all calibration laboratories in general.  Specific pipette calibration procedures are defined by ISO: 8655. 

2. Convenience or quality...or both?

Like the fast food industry, quality suffers when speed increases.  Look for a provider that spends time with your instrument...25 minutes would be required at minimum to completely clean and calibrate a typical single channel pipette. Some providers do little more than change the sticker on the instrument, and spend as little as 3-5 minutes in all!  Look for a company that does a complete job, full preventative maintenance and cleaning, and includes a careful calibration.  Paying for a quick and incomplete job will cause you expensive issues and headaches down the road.

3. What other services do they provide?

Since most laboratories’ Procurement departments hope to streamline spending with fewer vendors, its important to see what other products or services your pipette calibration provider can provide you. 
Will they train your people?  The greatest source of pipette error is due to the user!
Will they recommend the best pipettes for purchase? 
Can they help you with other liquid handling issues and needs? 
Do they back up their service with a no hassle warranty? 
Will they make your lab more efficient and lower your expenses?

4. Demand Customer Service

In a world where reaching a human being on a phone is a daunting task, insist on a provider that will be available to answer your questions and provide needed documentation in a moments notice. 
Is this provider accessible? 
Will they get back to you in a timely manner? 
Will your provider assist you in preparing for an audit? 
Are your calibration records secure? 
Can they run reports on your pipettes to assist you in determining weaknesses in your system?

5. Educate yourself

With a variety of practices in the marketplace competing for your business, its well worth your time to learn more about how pipettes should be calibrated. Learn how pipettes, an essential part of every lab, can be the cause of excessive spending, and how this spending can be correctly controlled. Our Accuracy Matters Blog is a great place to start.

 


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