Much of the focus and controversy in the engineering and related industries in recent months, and in fact, years, has been on outsourcing services to India.
The implications of it, the negative aspects of it, and when it will be implemented all seem to depend on which person you talk to on which day. The whole issue is seemingly in a constant state of change. But regardless of which statutory changes, amendments, and revisions are finally adopted; and no matter which special interest group is most influential in getting their version of the way things should be written into the law, there is one thing that will remain true: Material quality is a necessity.
Enterprises who wish to compete and win business in today's competitive world economy must provide products that perform as specified. And quality products depend on quality materials. In petrochemical, aerospace, nuclear, defense, and commercial applications, America and the world cannot afford the implications of inferior materials and subsequently inferior end engineering goods / products.
As Enterprises increase importing material goods from countries like India and China, the need for quality material testing becomes an absolute necessity. From this perspective, we would like to present an overview of the commercial material testing industry and discuss the pros and cons of in-house and outsource testing services with special emphasis to outsourcing analytical services to India.
Commercial Testing Services
The ethical and practical reasons for making sure that materials, products, and services are what they are supposed to be is the heart of the commercial testing industry. Today there are around 100 labs in India. There is variety not only in types of testing performed but also in the size and structure of individual testing labs which range from the "1-Man Show", usually an engineer or scientist, to a multi-location, multi-discipline lab with both vertical and horizontal integration.
In India, the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), an autonomous body under the aegis of Department of Science & Technology, Government of India provides Government, Industry Associations and Industry in general with a scheme for third-party assessment of the quality and technical competence of testing and calibration laboratories.
In order to achieve this objective, NABL provides laboratory accreditation services to laboratories that are performing tests / calibrations in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025.
In-House Labs in America vs Outsource Labs in India
Whatever the size or configuration of a testing lab and no matter which technologies and methods they use, they perform a valuable role in assuring the quality and reliability of a multitude of products. This need for product testing is met both by in-house laboratories and outsource or independent labs.
In-House labs in America offers the company direct involvement with the testing methods and procedures. A company using an in-house testing procedure is not dependent on outside sources for meeting its required turnaround deadlines. Also, knowledge of the product and the required testing procedures already exists within the company.
The outsource or independent lab overseas in India is theoretically free from influence and is able to provide unbiased results. The objectivity of independent laboratory testing procedures is monitored by and subject to a variety of outside audits and evaluations as per ISO 17025 established standards.
Since labs are a business, the profit motive dictates that independent labs remain competitive with an emphasis on innovation and efficiency. Technologies are constantly changing and independent labs are generally better able to keep up with the latest technological advances. In their third-party position, these labs can also add product credibility via their independent test results.
In some cases, utilizing the services of an independent lab can be highly cost-effective. It can save a company the expense of capital investment in testing equipment and the payroll and benefits expenses of hiring testing department personnel.
An important factor in deciding to test in-house in America or use an outsource testing lab in India is the cost of a given test or inspection from an independent lab and the frequency of the test versus the cost of investing in testing equipment and paying labor costs. A Micro-Hardness Test for example costs $50.00 ea. in America while the same costs less than $8.00 in India on tests performed on identical machines and with the lab adhering to ISO 17025 guidelines.
Outsourcing to India
Many US Enterprises are taking advantage of the low-cost, high quality material testing services in India. TCR Engineering Services (TCR), founded in 1973, is India's most reputed and well established materials testing laboratory. TCR, located in Mumbai, India, undertakes testing as per international standards and specifications as defined by ASTM, NACE, BS, JS, GR, IS and others. Testing at TCR is also done as per client-supplied specifications. TCR provides material testing services to more than 1500 Companies in India and global Enterprises such as Tyco Sanmar, Fisher Xomox, Unilever, Fisher Rosemount India, Bechtel International, Toyo Engineering, Tecknip Italy, SGS Ltd., Kirby Building Construction Co. Mitsubishi, Samsung, and Hyundai.
Today, many global Enterprises source engineering goods from India including castings & forgings, sheet metal, bars, pipes, cast iron, stainless steel sheets, nuts, bolts, engineering goods, ferrous and non-ferrous metals, non-metallic materials (such as polymers, ceramics, glass), machined parts, and tool components.
Virendra Bafna, Managing Director of TCR says, "TCR's Laboratory, with proximity to a suppliers / manufacturer's location in India or China coupled with our state-of-the art testing facilities and inspection services allows global enterprises to be assured of the quality of materials."
Criteria for Choosing an Material Testing Laboratory in India
There are many things to consider when choosing an independent laboratory. The lab's experience in business is a prime consideration. Look at how things are run and the kind of service they provide. How much experience do they have in the specific kinds of testing you require? Do they have the right kind of equipment to efficiently perform the tests you need?
Logistics and the mechanics of delivery must be taken into account. Is the estimated turnaround time acceptable? Is rush service available? Does the lab provide pickup and delivery for your supplier / manufacturer? Does the laboratory have online access to deliver results? Look at the depth of the lab's staff and equipment. Is there back-up equipment available? What kind of reputation and accreditation does the lab have?
Advantage TCR Engineering Services, India
The core services TCR provides include Mechanical Testing, Chemical Analysis, Positive Material Identification (PMI), Non Destructive Testing, Metallography, Corrosion Testing, Failure Analysis, Raw Material Inspection, Metallurgical Product evaluation, Engineering Research and Consulting.
TCR has pioneered in introducing latest analytical facilities and has upgraded the same every decade. TCR has facilities for testing of Engineering Goods, Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals, Non-Metallic Materials such as Polymers, Ceramics, Glass, and like materials.
Engineers, Chemists, Metallurgists & Technicians, at TCR, have the qualifications, the education and the experience to meet rigorous standards in the testing field, whether serving the Private and Public Sector, Government or the Military.
TCR is located on the web at http://www.tcreng.com