Postage – the hidden cost of oil analysis

Sometimes oil analysis prices can seem too good to be true. Even if you have ensured the analysis is being performed by a reputable lab, OEM or lube oil supplier, there are no hidden management fees and all the test suites and turnaround are sufficient for your needs, return postage is often forgotten. If you are shipping across country borders this can sometimes be more costly than the analysis itself.

This can be particularly confusing to buyers who naturally are price conscious and may not appreciate the little plastic bottles that they are buying need to get sent back to the lab afterwards.

In addition labs often de-bundle certain key parts to make the analysis price appear cheaper e.g. tubing to take samples charged separately etc. Hence when assessing the cost of your oil analysis solution, include not only the analysis, but the bottle, tubing, delivery and return postage. If it is a one off sample you may wish to include costs of a vacuum pump too, however these tend to be one off purchases and can last for years if well maintained, so sometimes the cheapest pump option might not be the best. If you have an existing sample pump make sure it will fit the bottle from your lab you are using if switching as there are two common thread sizes in the industry of 38mm and 28mm – I have managed 2 labs each with a different thread size bottle. I would not let a bottle thread size change prevent you from switching suppliers though, as if you are getting a better service or price, the cost of a few replacement pumps will soon be outweighed by the benefits.

So when calculating the cost, or requesting a tender, factor in everything from arrival of the bottles at your facility to the end report coming back in your costings.

Since postage is usually something the lab has fixed rates by national mail services or couriers there does not tend to be much wriggle room on price. However, as shipping is often done on weight or by parcel the cost of 1 sample in a postage bag could cost the same as 10. So it is best to work out how many samples you will be taking a time and if you always sample e.g. 5 sampling points on your sampling schedule then discuss how to best batch your samples to reduce postage costs either using your own courier or the lab return postage system. This is a quick way to save both you and your lab money.

If shipping your samples abroad there are a few options and it is best to ask your lab for assistance at how to reduce the cost using local mailboxes, specialist couriers and sample batching. I have worked at labs in the UK receiving samples from all over the world and been able to beat turnaround times for local labs competitive courier rates, so I would not rule out a lab in a different country if the service, turnaround and price is viable for you.

So when the sales person offering oil analysis comes knocking make sure you ask for the total cost to get the sample report rather than just the price being stated in brochures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *