What are the Issues?
When I listen to our customers who need improved calibration services and other leaders from the calibration industry I hear the description of a difficult situation.
- Customers of calibrations organizations are not satisfied with the cost, compliance levels (past dues and extensions) and the speed and responsiveness of the teams (bench-to-bench cycle time).
- There isn’t enough capacity of qualified metrologists for the current industry demand and the situation is getting worse by the day. The qualified metrologists currently in place are hard-working, talented and working inside a system that makes it very difficult for them. We find ourselves defending metrologists working in their company’s calibration labs quite a bit!
The performance issues become particularly troublesome as companies look to accelerate products to market and can’t afford not having equipment ready to go or quality issues with their tests data resulting from issues with calibration compliance. These issues drive the cost and risk equations up significantly more than most people understand them to be. There are a couple of proven solutions to consider.
Solution 1: Increase Utilization — Done by Ending Hoarding; It Improves Cost, Compliance, Capacity, and Speed
This is the least obvious so we’ll start with this one because it is the solution with the highest leverage.
It is beyond the scope of this post to get into all the details about how we increase utilization. The simple answer is we increase equipment sharing but, as most insiders know, increasing sharing is not so easy given today’s dominant culture of hoarding. We’ve published plenty of other blog posts about this phenomenon so I won’t address it in this one. The blog posts include: Stop Hoarding, Start Collaborating, Accelerate Results; That One Bad Habit That Costs Your Team Millions or Equipment Utilization: What’s Your Number…to name a few.
Improved Cost – Up to 50%
When hoarding ends, sharing and collaboration begin and equipment utilization increases. When this happens the number of assets requiring calibration is reduced, often by as much as 30% to 50% over time. This leads to an overall reduction in calibration costs but it also leads to improved compliance/quality, speed & responsiveness. Why?
Improved Compliance/Quality — Up to 75%
Part of the strategy to increase asset utilization is to dispose of assets that are underutilized. The selection of which assets are best to dispose of will drive quality and compliance if done properly. Between Sente’s database — where we track obsolescence, equipment downtime, repair, maintenance, and out-of-compliance statuses — and the more detailed information available from calibration databases the “bad actors” can be eliminated and the risk of poor measurement quality with them.
Improved Speed & Responsiveness — Improved 2X to 3X
The methods used to end the hoarding culture end it everywhere, including calibration services. Lab services are hoarded with unnecessary ASAP or immediate requests that produce a vicious cycle that is difficult for any calibration lab to cope with.
They end the vicious cycle of…
- Unnecessary ASAP calibration requests driving short term capacity constraints…
- Users continually checking the status with the lab sap their capacity further…
- Responsiveness decreases meaning…
- More ASAP requests…
- and the cycle continues
Overall customers reduce the amount of time their equipment is away from the bench by over 50% and often can get a replacement if they need one. Calibration labs can free more than 25% to be applied strategically with new services to their customers.
Solution 2: Improving Calibration Lab Efficiency
This is not our offer but there are many synergies between these kinds of solutions and our own. Companies like Indysoft have years of experience helping their customers — either internal calibration labs or 3rd party vendors — increase their capacity. Connections between our database solutions and calibration management software solutions can produce great value. Some of the strategies used to increase the efficiency of calibration labs are:
- Process automation
- Calibration automation
- Optimization of calibration intervals
- Technical controls in the lab for regulatory of government-mandated requirement
What is The Right Solution for Your Company?
The right solution is different for every company and is often a combination of approaches. We’re happy to engage you in a conversation and bring needed expertise into the conversation depending on your situation and potential ROI.
If your asset utilization is already high and there is no culture in the organization for hoarding you may just need to optimize your calibration lab.
If there are perverse incentives driving behaviors like hoarding that drive costs beyond calibration costs, but they also shift burdens onto the calibration lab that they will be unable to deal with then going after the root cause of hoarding first will produce the best initial ROI.
Feel free to reach out by clicking the contact button on the menu bar and letting us know how we can help or what additional information you might need. We look forward to helping!
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“Sente’s process fits in perfectly with the Lean 5S initiatives we’re working on. The process has been a tremendous help to both cycle times and downtime savings. We save roughly 20 days per ATE.”
Division Engineering Assistant