What is calibration and why is It important?
Here we answer some general calibration questions.
Calibration is important wherever measurements are important. It gives you confidence in your instruments and the results that they monitor, record and control. Calibration is the process of comparing a reading on one instrument, with another instrument that has been calibrated and referenced to a known set of parameters. The equipment used as a reference should be directly traceable to equipment that is calibrated to the national standard. The UK’s national standard is UKAS.
Calibration of your measurement instruments has two objectives. Firstly, it checks the accuracy of the instrument. Secondly, it determines the traceability of the measurement. In practice, calibration also includes repair of the device if it is out of calibration. A report is provided by the calibration expert, which shows the error in measurements with the measuring device before and after the calibration.
Why is calibration important?
An instrument’s measurement accuracy degrades over time. This is typically caused by wear and tear. However, changes in accuracy can be caused by both electric and mechanical shocks and the environment the instrument is in. Why is calibration so important? The bottom line is, calibration of an instrument improves the accuracy of the measuring device so the instrument user can have confidence in their results.
when should you calibrate your measurement instrument?
Test equipment is usually calibrated once a year. This is because it’s easy to schedule. This may not necessarily be the best approach to take. Most test instruments will drift over time, the newer the instrument the more often it needs to be calibrated. This is until its ability to reproduce measurements over a period of time has been established and is well understood.
You might estimate a suitable recalibration frequency, based on previous experience of similar instruments used in similar environments. But it’s only when the actual data from a series of successive calibrations of a particular instrument has been properly analysed that a meaningful recalibration frequency can be worked out.
What does traceability of calibration mean?
To provide confidence in the validity of the calibration results they must be traceable. This means the results on the instrument’s calibration certificate need to be traceable to the standard used, and the results on the certificate for the standard are in turn traceable to the standard used for its calibration.
Do i need to get my test equipment calibrated?
Not necessarily, but if your test equipment isn’t measuring accurately then you won’t receive correct measurement readings.
Calibrations can be costly and that’s a main factor when it comes to deciding not to calibrate your instruments. However, there can be even bigger costs when it comes to using an un-calibrated instrument such as product re-calls. How does the cost of a product recall stack up against the cost of calibrating an instrument?
Need some more answers?
We hope this page has answered some of your calibration questions. If not, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to answer your queries. Our contact details are given below:
Tel: +44 (0)8453 62 63 65