The 5 Secrets to Amazing Lab Calibrations

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NCAT Ignition oven with a Gordon Technical Triple stack basket set in the chamber

I’m going to say something controversial, something that our competitors would completely disagree with, Calibrations are not all the same.

We have been in the industry for well over 15 years and during that time we have made a reputation for ourselves regarding service. We are the top service provider in the country for asphalt QC labs. This isn’t an opinion but, quite simply, a fact. Our customers know it, and our competitors begrudgingly know it too. The thing is, we are also something equally as powerful, but it’s not something that we advertise or talk about. That is, until now.

an NCAT Ignition oven that has no business being calibrated
Would you believe this unit was considered in spec?

Calibrations should never be a cost-cutting point

Many labs across the country have to decide where money will and won’t be spent and annual calibrations look like a tasty morsel to focus on. After all, you can reduce your costs every year which looks great on paper. You go through the entire year happy that you will be under budget until you look at the big sheet at the end of the year that tells you that you spent more than you did last year. How is this possible? The truth is, over the course of a year, Gordon Technical always ends up being the lowest-cost service provider for your QC lab—both in calibrations and in general repairs.

Low-cost providers cut costs themselves.

I can’t imagine that you’re surprised by this, but those lowball providers are excellent at cutting costs; it’s what they do. Barebones minimum service is expertly designed to give the impression that detailed work is being done. Perhaps this is why so many people in our industry turn ot them. After all, low cost plus seemingly expert service sounds like a win win. The truth is far more sinister.

They search the thesaurus looking for fancy words to throw around to describe the simplest of services. Scale calibration? More like an optimized balance adjustment with certified testing weight. Oven Calibration? Temperature zone verification and adjustment. By using these words many people, including myself, get glossy-eyed and stop paying attention to all of those line items on my invoice. I’m sorry Mike, please don’t fire me.

High turnover rates mean low-skilled work

Another tactic to these low-cost providers is to force their technicians to calibrate multiple labs daily. Think about it, these technicians wake up and immediately get to work testing without any sort of plan.

They know that they have four labs to get to today so they don’t care if their weights are at temperature or not, they’re calibrating. They have to rush through each lab and are constantly being checked on. It’s enough stress to drive anyone crazy. Naturally, this work environment leads to an even higher turnover rate.

That means that most of the techs that visit your lab, won’t see you again, and haven’t even begun to master the skills required to calibrate equipment properly. How many skills can a new employee fresh out of school possess without time on the job?

Tricks of the… trade

An easy way to lowball service visits is to only stick to calibrating the equipment and disregard any issues. Does the NCAT scale calibrate within parameters? Yes! But with a -1.7 lift, does that mean that your burns are going to be successful? No, they won’t—and that’s the issue. The lowball service providers aren’t going to care if your NCAT has a draft or not. Their only concern is to calibrate your scale to the specifications as quickly and as easily as possible.

Gordon calibrations include a full diagnostic check of your furnace. We inspect power issues, draft conditions, auxiliary equipment, and outside conditions. More importantly, we know what to do when we discover issues. It does also help that we are the national service center for NCAT repair and maintenance.

Ok, but surely on a scale calibration there isn’t a difference between them and you, right?

Lowball calibration companies are on a time crunch, but they are also looking to maximize profits. If a scale takes longer than they want to calibrate, they’re simply going to fail it and try to sell you a new one (which they conveniently have available in their work van). While we still must fail old scales from time to time, our technicians understand external variables that affect calibration. That air conditioning vent placed right above the scale platform or the draft coming in from the window could be the culprit…but those issues aren’t important to the lowballers! Not when a new scale makes them more money.

Should I even ask about ovens?

They will only ensure that your oven hits the correct temperature point and move on. They aren’t concerned about fan noises or how much heat is leaking from a worn-out gasket. As long as the oven hits its temperature and is calibrated, those issues aren’t important to them.

The Gordon way

When we perform a calibration, we thoroughly clean and inspect your equipment for defects and clogs. We figure out what is causing low performance and we work to fix it. We can consult with you right then and there about solutions, and what can potentially cause an issue later on down the line.

We let you decide what issues you want to tackle without forcing a whole bunch of parts down your throat, and we carry what you need at all times. You benefit from our knowledge and experience, and we ensure that your unit will work for you during the paving season. On average, our customers have less downtime when we do all calibrations versus our competitors.

Over the course of the year, a Gordon calibration visit means that you aren’t likely to have surprise downtime from a unit breakdown. You won’t have to waste a season, a week, or even a day of not producing or have to pay for an unplanned technician when all could be resolved during a visit.

We strive to never be a lowball company and instead choose to focus on being your teammate. The knowledge and expertise that each of our employees carries with them will power you through your season. Our knowledgeable office staff will answer all of your questions and help with solutions. We aren’t just a company that does calibrations, we are a company that provides solutions to our customers.

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