How Not To Choose a Pipette Calibration Service Provider

It is often the case that laboratories who use calibration services for their pipettes choose providers without much thought to the details.

This scenario is perhaps not surprising, given that many scientists respond to the question: “Why do you have your pipettes calibrated?” with: “We’ve just always done it.” In other words, people who use pipettes for their research are often unaware of the advantages that calibration can provide, the important differences between providers, and the potential added value of certain service providers.

Look Beyond Convenience and Price

As is the case with many decisions, when the complexity of the choice is not well understood, people make their choices based on convenience and price. Though both of these factors are important when choosing a calibration service, a more important factor is how effective the service provider is. For instance, the most convenient provider may use an unapproved methodology or do a simple calibration check that does not involve opening or cleaning pipettes. They may also use limited equipment, and be unable to conduct needed repairs during the process. As a result, though, scientists may feel that their workflow was not significantly interrupted, they are also failing to get much value out of the calibration process.

Similarly, large companies that use pipettes often charge their purchasing departments with the task of choosing calibration service providers. These individuals, focused on finding value for their company, are rarely able to effectively compare different providers without significant assistance. Though they may have a list of qualifications that should be met by any provider they choose, they will likely be unable to appreciate certain differences in providers that drive important price variations. In addition to different levels of quality of calibration, different price structures can give the illusion that certain providers are the least expensive, when in fact, there may be hidden fees, such as costs for parts that would be difficult for the consumer to predict.

Calibration Is Not a Commodity Service

Many labs seeking a pipette calibration provider believe that most pipette service providers essentially the same, providing the same services and testing your pipettes in an identical fashion. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Because service companies can be accredited to ISO:17025 and still vary greatly from each other in calibration procedures, choices are made on price instead of a close examination of the actual procedures used to test your pipettes. For those looking to make a high value choice regarding their pipette calibration service providers, it is important to become educated on the details and importance of calibration. For companies making these choices, perhaps the best structure would involve an initial quality validation on potential service providers, performed by an engineering or metrology department. Once such an initial filter is implemented, an accounting department could consider financial aspects of calibration choices and make a final decision on the specific provider. In fact, leading laboratories have these processes in place.

At TTE, we deeply appreciate that calibration services should not be treated as a commodity. Providers are very different from each other. The aim should be to provide the highest quality calibration services in compliance to the science of measurement. As such, we are one of only a few companies to exclusively meet the highest standard for calibration, the ISO 8655, and we provide a full service option including repair, PM, and our signature 24 hour service time so that there are never any unpredictable or unforeseen events associated with your pipettes or your calibration process. Next up in our Choosing a Pipette Calibration Provider series: a look at the right factors to consider.