For those new to it, testing -- such as commercial performance testing for a new product -- can be daunting. There are so many ways to test something… How can you know what to test, how to test it and when you're done? As with most daunting projects, the key to sanity is to break it down into manageable tasks:
- Find local labs.
- Find out which ones do the general type of testing you need.
- Trust the lab to help you figure out the rest. That's their job.
Find the short listLabs are everywhere… so begin by narrowing your options to a short list of labs handling the kind of test you want and preferably nearby. Most testing can be done by mail, but all things being equal, wouldn't you prefer to deal face to face with a company providing a service that could make or break your company or product?
Check quality standardsIn the lab world, "quality" is first measured by the conditions of the test, not the lab. There are standard quality-control procedures for almost every imaginable type of test, and for proper calibration of the instruments used in that test. Make sure your lab follows the important ones for your test type. (You can learn which quality standards apply for the test you need by consulting your industry association or by learning which standards were followed in your competitors' tests.)
Determine certificationAsk the lab about its certifications or accreditations – those vary by state. While quality standards apply to given tests or procedures, certification and accreditation guarantee that a lab knows what it's doing on a given type of testing, such as commercial products testing.
directory of accredited laboratories. The ThomasNet directory lets you narrow search results to those labs carrying a specific certification.
- Ask about turnaround time. Most tests can be done in a week or two, but others take months.
- Your industry association or trade association can be a big help in learning what kind of tests you need, and which standards apply.
- When in doubt, call any lab and describe what you want tested. Even if they don't do the test, most labs can and will tell you about the tests you need.