The Case for Outsourcing Your In-house Samples

It’s not a secret – Chemtech-Ford wants to be your go-to environmental laboratory. To do this, we need to be better, faster and cheaper than any other alternative – enter SUPERLAB…

For a drinking water or wastewater utility, let’s consider the case for outsourcing some or all of your in-house process and compliance samples. From my perspective, having spent a lifetime in commercial, industrial and municipal labs, I can see some clear advantages and disadvantages to maintaining a high-quality in-house laboratory:

Advantages of an In-house laboratory

  • Immediate control and feedback
  • Quick turnaround times
  • Specific understanding of your process and data use

Disadvantages of an In-house laboratory

  • Much higher per-sample cost
  • Ongoing certification costs
  • Operational headaches
  • Employee turnover and training

Hidden Costs

Let’s consider one extreme (but real) example of the high cost of in-house samples. With the mindset of having a “full service” laboratory for its member entities, one large municipality purchased an expensive Inductively Coupled Plasma/Mass Spectrometer (ICP/MS) for metals analysis. For this utility, metals are requested weekly for effluent and sludge analysis and occasionally for lead, copper and other metals. The workload for metals is at most 30 samples per month.

The senior chemist for this instrument spends about 70 percent of his time preparing and running metals samples – it is a complex and temperamental piece of equipment. If his salary is $80,000, the total cost of his employment is realistically around $110,000 (considering employment taxes, insurance and other benefits). That’s approximately $6,500 per month for 30 samples – or $215 per sample. That’s not even considering the initial and ongoing costs for the equipment ($150,000+), supplies, standards and certification. 

By comparison, Chemtech-Ford runs an average of 600 ICP/MS samples per month. Our normal price for these metals is less than $100 per sample. $100 vs. $250+ for the in-house option. The economies of scale are in full force. 

The Chemtech Advantage

What if there were a way to realize the cost advantage of a commercial laboratory with the personal touch of an in-house laboratory? We think that Chemtech can help. Many samples can and should be run in-house. For simple routine process samples (pH, residual chlorine, settleable solids, etc.) Chemtech can provide personalized training and instruction for water and wastewater operators tasked with calibrating, analyzing, documenting and reporting those results. 

For most other process and compliance samples, Chemtech-Ford offers a cost-effective compliment or alternative to your in-house testing. We work hard every day to provide defensible data, immediate feedback, quick turnaround times and low prices. Our project managers work to understand your process and become an extension of your in-house laboratory. Specifically, our municipal clients can expect:

  • Experienced and friendly project managers
  • Attentive and responsive office staff
  • Bottle preparation and labeling
  • On-site courier pickup
  • Automated and manual data review (with individualized client limits)
  • Online data tools (WebData portal and AQS Data Manager)
  • Discounted pricing

Stop by or give us a call to see if we can save you money and reduce your laboratory headaches. 

Analytical Excellence Since 1953

Chemtech-Ford Laboratories has been providing environmental and analytical services since 1953. For more than 65 years our clients have benefited from our excellent data quality, quick turnaround times, friendly customer service and competitive pricing.