What to look for when sourcing in-house food testing instruments
Insourcing food testing can be a great option for food manufacturers, providing better speed, convenience, consistency, data control, and cost savings over time. But before you go out and buy the snazziest food testing equipment on the market, it's important to put some thought into how and where it’ll be used. Here are the big questions you need to ask before making the purchase.
1. Is it fit-for-purpose?
Every food manufacturer has different food-analysis requirements, ranging from pesticide residue analysis to persistent organic pollutants (POPs) to food-label testing. That’s why it’s important to source testing equipment that suits your specific needs, rather than going for a one-size-fits-all solution. Beware of vendors attempting to sell a full-stack solution with all the bells and whistles your organisation will never use. At the same time, you have to remain flexible in case the scope of your testing expands in the future.
2. Is it flexible?
Look for providers that offer a modular approach to their instruments. Equipment modularity means you can start small and add more testing capabilities as your needs change or reconfigure the system as required. Having spare modules on hand (or being able to source them quickly) will enable you to manage maintenance smoothly while minimising downtime.
3. Is it reliable?
Bringing food testing in-house will cost less over time than outsourcing testing to third-party labs — but only if the equipment is reliable. High-quality food-testing systems should be robust, reliable and consistent. Unreliable equipment exposes your organisation to risks like incorrect data, unexpected repair costs and production halts.
4. Is its footprint manageable?
Bench space can be an important consideration in modern labs, which means the form factor and footprint of a device need to be considered carefully. Where will the equipment be placed? How will it fit into the lab user’s workflow? Fortunately, some modern instruments can be quite compact, while still providing high degrees of accuracy and reliability. A good equipment provider will be able to help you figure out how much space you need, select the right equipment, manage the installation and plan for future testing needs.
5. Is it user-friendly?
Food testing equipment should not require specialised knowledge or skillsets to operate. Make sure that the devices and their software are user-friendly and need minimal training and support. One of the simplest ways to measure this is to ask vendors how many mouse-clicks it will take to generate a report.
6. Is it accredited?
Every country has its own accreditation requirements in terms of food testing, but the ISO (International Organisation of Standardisation) provides an international benchmark. When sourcing food testing equipment, remember to ask what standards and accreditations the device complies with, if the accreditation relates directly to the testing you require, and if there are any testing limitations that you need to be aware of.
7. Does the provider offer support?
What sort of after-sales service does your food-testing equipment provider offer? When setting up an in-house testing system, it’s vital to have technical support available. Ask vendors if they offer onboarding training in equipment usage and understanding results, after-sales maintenance and calibration, technical advice such as explaining test results, or if they can offer the services of an engineer if required.
Visit Thermo Fisher Scientific to explore the broad range of food analysis instruments and find out how they can help you deliver high-quality and safe food products to your customers.
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