Lab Testing Basics: 3 Things All Importers Should Know

by | Nov 16, 2018 | Compliance, Lab Testing, Product Safety

Importers who work with manufacturers in China are very familiar with the concept of conducting third-party inspections.

These inspections help to ensure the quality and safety of goods before they’re loaded onto a cargo ship and shipped overseas.

While inspections are important, there are other quality control measures that importers should generally take. These include performing audits and, as we will discuss today, laboratory tests.

How do lab tests work?

A lab test can be conducted at any stage in the production process, from pre-production through post-production. It can involve testing raw materials before they’re used in production or testing finished products.

Samples are collected and sent to a lab, where specialized methods and equipment are used to ensure compliance with quality and safety standards or specific regulations that apply to the product.

Let’s discuss 3 basic things that all importers should understand about lab tests.

#1 – Lab Tests Accomplish Things That Inspections Can’t

Inspections are good because they catch issues, but they can’t catch everything. For example, they can’t verify whether your product contains high amounts of lead or hazardous chemicals that you don’t expect.

This is where lead or chemical testing in an accredited lab comes in.

Labs can also conduct mechanical testing, reliability testing, and verify that your raw materials are not of a lower grade than what you expect.

#2 – Lab Testing May Be Required for Your Product

Different countries, regions, and industries have varying requirements that can apply to different types of products.

Regulations such as Restriction of Hazardous Substances (ROHS) in Europe, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in the USA, or others may apply to you.

If you’re in the US, we recommend taking advantage of the resources on the Consumer Product Safety Commision website, such as the Regulatory Robot. We also suggest that you speak to a product compliance consultant who can help make sure you are aware of all applicable regulations for your product.

#3 – You Should Never Work With a Lab That is Not Accredited

When choosing a lab to work with, you have to be sure they have the proper qualifications and staff, and that they follow the correct procedures to do the job well. This helps you minimize risk and ensure results are accurate and reliable.

Look for labs that have earned the ISO 17025 certification or are on the list of CPSC-Accepted Testing Laboratories.

It’s also important to note that you should generally not use a lab that is suggested to you by your supplier. There is always a chance that they might influence the lab to produce favorable test results.

Don’t be Scared Away by the Cost

As with any third-party services, lab testing incurs a cost. But, the cost may not be as high as you think. So, don’t be afraid to solicit quotes from qualified labs.

In fact, lab testing can be less expensive than many people think, sometimes around $100 for basic testing.

Remember that the money spent is an investment in your product quality and can actually help you lower your total costs. By avoiding expensive-to-deal-with issues down the line.

Summary

Lab tests are an important part of your overall quality assurance program along with factory audits and product inspections.

They help you to identify issues that are not possible to catch in an inspection. Lab tests can be conducted at varying times throughout the production cycle.

It’s important that you only choose an accredited lab. With a little research, you can find a lab that will help you better ensure the quality, safety, and regulatory compliance of your products.

Remember not to be scared away by the cost before you’ve solicited quotes. Investing in lab tests can help save you money down the line.

Speaking of costs, there is an important balance that must be struck between the cost of your product and its quality. For more information about this relationship, we recommend downloading the following white paper.

Price vs. Quality: What You Need to Know

When you’re making products to sell in the marketplace, you have to consider the tradeoffs between price and quality. Sometimes, producing better quality products can lead to paying a higher price for manufacturing.

Download our free white paper, Price vs. Quality, to learn how to produce great quality while keeping your costs low.

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