When the automotive industry deemed calibrating scales would be among requirements for suppliers to meet mandatory quality standards, Deka Scale, Inc., went after accreditation so it could check factory equipment and do the needed paperwork.
Otherwise, Deka Scale's two owners said, they wouldn't be able to service a third of the $1.8-million company's customers who soon must satisfy demands for QS 9000 measures. Those suppliers use scales to weigh raw materials and auto parts, helping to determine their contents.
“If they don't comply, [automakers] will not do business with them,” said one owner, Bernd Damm, the firm's vice president. “We would have lost too much of our business if we couldn't have done this.”
More than two years after applying, Deka Scale was certified by the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program in May. Deka Scale installed a laboratory to calibrate weights as part of the certification process and must take temperature, humidity, and other variables into account when adjusting scales and balances.
“It has become much more scientific today than it was two years ago because of the requirements of the standard,” Mr. Damm said.
Having the accreditation has made the 21-year-old business more service oriented, because scales must be regularly calibrated, he said. Deka Scale also sells industrial scales and rents them to companies doing inventory or other tasks.
Toledo's Fiske Brothers Refining Co. had worked with Deka Scale a few years when specifications for QS 9000 certification were outlined by the auto industry. Fiske Brothers, which makes car and other lubricants, called a meeting with Deka Scale and was impressed with the results, recalled Jacki Dusza, Fiske Brothers' quality manager.
“They were already aware of it,” she said. “They already had their program underway. ... We've been very pleased with them.”
Mr. Damm and his partner, Clyde Duncan, were Toledo Scale Co. veterans when they opened Deka Scale in 1980 with five employees. Now, the firm has 12 full-time employees. A three-year apprentice program was started a few years ago to groom technicians, who calibrate scales as large as those used on railroads, the owners said.
Mergers have trimmed the number of such scale firms nationwide over the years, but thousands remain and the Toledo business is among the larger independent shops, said Dan Blessum, president of the International Society of Weighing and Measurement in Winder, Ga.
Eventually, Deka Scale would like to have test weights manufactured under the company's name to sell to businesses, said Mr. Duncan, company president. Besides auto suppliers, the firm works with businesses in the food, gravel, steel, glass, chemical, health care, and other industries.
Deka Scale also sets up systems for customers, such as a scrap dealer plagued with having overloaded trucks, Mr. Duncan said. Using equipment programmed by Deka Scale, the business is able to tell when additional scrap will be too much for a trucking container, he said.
Other customers require less attention. Deka Scale has a web site for businesses that want to shop without assistance, although that means inexperienced customers may buy inadequate equipment, the company owners said.
“Our business is changing,” Mr. Duncan said.
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