Trust your supplier, but also check

Trust your supplier, but also check

In the wake of mis-certification scandals around the world, firms are tightening their quality assurance (QA) processes using materials analysers.

Industry has been shaken recently by news of companies providing false certification in a range of fields, from emissions testing through to metal grading. Cases where suppliers have delivered mislabelled products only serve to highlight the importance of positive material identification (PMI) as part of a robust QA policy to avoid catastrophic results: fines, reputation loss and ultimately even human fatality.

That’s not to say that suppliers shouldn’t be trusted. However, a trust-but-verify approach for incoming inspection of goods and stock control is one that will protect your company and its reputation, regardless of what other firms might do.

The use of handheld analysers such as Hitachi High-Tech’s Vulcan or the X-MET8000 by manufacturers and OEMs could save a lot of heartache, not to mention the cost of recalls and the damage to brands if incorrectly labelled raw materials are used. With handheld analysers, shipments bearing the incorrect grade information or certification could be identified in minutes.

A choice of technologies

Vulcan and X-MET8000 use different technology to quickly analyse metal samples

The Vulcan is a laser induced breakdown spectrometry (LIBS) analyser. It’s very fast, taking a second to deliver a reading for most metals. Vulcan is also very robust, with a low cost of ownership, but leaves a small mark on the sample where the test was taken.

The X-MET8000 is a handheld analyser with a similar profile to the Vulcan, but it uses X-ray fluorescence (XRF) to identify materials. It’s non-destructive, more accurate, and it can also identify a broader range of elements and alloys. Similarly priced, which analyser you choose depends on your key requirements.

Companies are introducing a Vulcan or an X-MET8000 analyser to their quality assurance processes often with the goal of achieving 100% PMI.

Managing risk and cost

Ultimately, these companies are protecting themselves from potentially serious consequences. For example, GT Factors is a firm making ratchet straps for the freight industry. When they tested a Vulcan analyser, they discovered that a supplier had sent them incorrectly labelled stainless steel samples. If they’d used a product that was weaker and more susceptible to corrosion it could have been catastrophic for their customers and for the company’s reputation.

While there is an up-front cost when you purchase a Vulcan or an X-MET8000, many companies find that the analysers quickly pay their way. They provide reassurance and take away the need to rely on a third-party testing company, and the time and cost associated with that. They deliver accurate results quickly, are lightweight, compact and rugged, and they have an all-day battery life. Both are easy to use, very little training is required, and with Wi-Fi connectivity results can easily be uploaded, stored and used in QC reporting systems.

It makes either the Vulcan or X-MET8000 handheld analysers the prefect tool to help you improve your PMI procedures.

If you have any questions about the Vulcan or X-MET8000 handheld analysers, don’t hesitate to get in touch or book a demo.

Want to know more about how GT Factors is using a Vulcan for PMI QA? Download the case study

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Date: 16 November 2017

Author: Hitachi High-Tech Analytical Science

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