When a need is determined for chemical analysis, a client begins by contacting capable chemical testing laboratories. During a project inquiry, the most frequently requested information is the cost of the service. With only general details, the laboratory's representative is able to provide a general price range for a service; however, a specific and accurate price quote involves a bit more time and consideration.
The following factors are often taken into account when deciding how to price a project:
By including information on the likely ingredients of a sample, project managers are able to accurately determine which instrumentation the chemists will require for use. This enables the representative to map out the scope of the project and contributes for a more accurate quote.
a. Routine Chemical Testing
Routine tests such as AA, ICP-MS for metals analysis, and basic properties testing such as density, viscosity, percent water, specific gravity, microbiological analysis are relatively inexpensive as these testing utilizes standard test methods and are generally available from QC labs and environmental testing labs.
b. Custom and Complex Chemical Analysis
Labs performing investigative analysis are relatively few; problem solving work requires extensive project planning, use of specialized chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques, which tend to be expensive. The work is usually performed and/or supervised by Ph.D chemists experienced in the area of the project or problem. Quality of such interpretation varies significantly as some routine labs unsuccessfully attempt to solve tough problems.
A set-up fee accounts for a portion of a service's costs, as projects often require methods to be created and/or researched before testing begins. For this reason, a client who requires one method and set-up for testing will receive a reduced price per sample when submitting 20 samples, rather than just one.
If and when expedited services are necessary, many laboratories offer a reduced project time. This may not be an option for the price-sensitive, as this service is offered at a premium.
Services performed can include details such as quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis, and consultative reports. Depending on the project, the client may be able to negotiate price by changing the level of detail requested.
The best way to receive an accurate and timely quote from testing laboratories is to initially provide as much information as possible about the project. In fact, clients may find it beneficial to explain to the representative why they need the results. That way the chemists will be able to freely consult about which services may or may not be necessary, which will help save time and money in the long run.
Dr. Shri Thanedar, Ph.D, is the CEO and Chief Chemist at Avomeen Analytical Services. He has over 20 years of experience serving as chief scientist or expert witness on over 20 litigation support projects involving chemical analysis, product failure analysis, reverse engineering, and polymer and rubber analysis.
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