When it’s time to renew your contract with a calibration services provider, there are several important factors to consider. Cost is obviously a major component of a contract, but service levels and calibration quality vary greatly from provider to provider. That’s why it’s vital that your calibration contract negotiations are treated as far more than just a procurement exercise.
It’s more effective to ensure the right people are involved in evaluating your calibration contracts for the right reasons. While you may have the best procurement team in the business, at the end of the day the procurement team’s goal is to get you calibration services at the lowest cost possible. Unfortunately, the lowest cost provider doesn’t always provide the best calibration quality, turnaround times, and program efficiency consulting– all components of a relationship that weigh heavily on your satisfaction with your vendor. That’s why we suggest that quality managers and lab managers actively participate in the contract renewal process.
Here are five key metrics to evaluate when considering new vendors upon contract renewal:
1. Calibration Quality
From our 2022 Calibration Trend Survey, respondents indicated that quality is the #1 desired trait in a calibration service vendor, followed by turnaround times, broad calibration service capability across equipment types, and price.
Every lab requires specific quality standards based on industry and application. When evaluating new vendors, be sure to ask: do they have a history of consistently meeting quality requirements? Is the provider knowledgeable of the industry-specific calibration standards that apply to your business, such as AS9100, IATF 16949, TL9000, and ISO 17025? Calibration is more than just a sticker. Does your provider’s scope of accreditation cover all the equipment for which you need calibration? And finally, are you considering an OEM of test and measurement equipment? OEMs understand test and measurement equipment intricacies the best and can deliver the industry’s highest quality calibrations on the most advanced T&M equipment.
To verify quality, we suggest you ask for a “Try before you buy” program in which the vendor can perform calibrations on a subset of equipment. This way you can evaluate the quality of the calibration as well as other important factors such as service speed and ability to make adjustments. Should you have high-end RF or digital equipment, ensure to include these pieces in any trial calibration program.
2. Service Delivery
In today’s environment of consistent supply chain disruptions, is your calibration provider doing anything to help speed up your time to market? Selecting a provider that offers a variety of service delivery options ensures satisfactory turnaround times and a good working relationship in the long run. Your provider should offer local pickup and delivery as well as onsite calibration. A planned onsite calibration allows a calibration provider to offer same-day service and limit production interruptions by calibrating equipment in place.
You may save money up front by partnering with a low-cost calibration provider, but you may be losing money overall if that provider is causing delays in production.
3. Hidden Fees
A low initial bid from a calibration provider may be attractive from a budgetary standpoint. Just do your homework to check capabilities and understand if they’ll need to outsource services to third party labs. Outsourcing to a third party can add to turnaround time and result in additional fees for shipping and vendor management. Other fees can be extra, such as pickup and delivery fees or an onsite service fee. Be sure to ask about what’s included in the bid – and what’s not -- in your contract negotiations.
4. Equipment Availability
Calibration standards can be extremely expensive, especially for high-end RF or digital test equipment. Be sure to inquire about any special equipment needs for your most sophisticated instruments. Does the vendor have the right equipment, at the right location, to achieve your turnaround time goals? If your vendor needs to ship your equipment to other locations for service, that can cause delay, increase cost, and increase risk of damage for these sensitive instruments.
5. Program flexibility
As reported in our 2022 Calibration Trend Survey, many companies desire a hybrid delivery model, where they outsource some equipment to calibration vendors, or have someone onsite, or use an internal lab. Ensure your vendor offers flexible programs that map to your unique needs, without extra fees.
Be Open to Change
If your existing calibration provider is not fully meeting your needs, it’s worth the pain to explore change. Evaluating new calibration providers is a healthy exercise in making sure the services you pay for meet your quality, turnaround time, and other requirements. An excellent calibration services provider should offer the processes and staff to ensure smooth transitions and increase program efficiencies to make the change worthwhile.
Seek Expert Guidance
The best calibration service providers will be able to work side-by-side with you to review your calibration program, answer tough questions and improve your program’s efficiency. This is often a free service, so be sure to ask about the availability of consulting services when you’re evaluating a provider.
Selecting your calibration provider, or renewing your existing calibration contract, can affect your daily workflow for years to come, and can either enhance or detract from your company’s productivity. When your calibration services contract is up for review, think very carefully about your next provider and make sure you are not leaving the decision in the hands of the procurement department.
Tektronix is a trusted multi-brand calibration service provider providing OEM quality calibrations at a fair market price and offering a broad scope of accreditation with a host of flexible service delivery options. Calibration experts from Tektronix can help you identify gaps in your calibration program and work with you to make your program run more efficiently through ROI modeling. As a leading provider of calibration services, Tektronix has developed a proven approach to onboarding new clients with process and procedures that ensure clients are up and running quickly.