To ensure quality manufacturing operations it is critical to make sure that your measuring instruments are calibrated properly. Measuring instruments that doesn’t read accurately can compromise the integrity of your quality assurance documentation and quality control process.
Inaccurate instruments can destroy confidence in measuring results, and at their worst, can result in manufacturing of nonconforming parts. Calibration services represent an important manufacturing discipline and it should be considered as an investment that builds the foundation upon you can built your quality assurance program.
More than simple adjustments
Calibration services determine the deviation of the indication supplied by a measuring instrument from the true value of the measurement. The results of the calibration process are used for instrumentation and gauge adjustment. However, calibration services go beyond just a simple adjustment, and provide traceability back to a master source. The calibration process comes with extra value added.
A well-trained instrumentation technician will determine the accuracy of the instrument by comparing the measurement with a recognized standard master artifact. The calibration process follows a set of test procedures that are developed for each specific instrument. The measuring operation is performed in conditions near to ideal in order to assure that the instrument is not influenced by intervening factors and the readings show real accuracy and repeatability.
When it comes to calibration services, companies like OQ International have a choice to set up their own in-house calibration laboratory, return gauges to the original manufacturer for calibration, or send gauges to commercial calibration services. Because establishing an in-house calibration service would represent a significant investment in trained personnel, equipment and facilities, using independent commercial calibration services can be a better alternative.
The importance of specialized calibration services
Companies specialized in calibration services are equipped with state of the art laboratories. The lab environment is well controlled, with all the various parameters such as barometric pressure, temperature, elevation, latitude, and humidity. The accurate measurement of environmental conditions and the precision control and make the main difference between an average industrial calibration laboratory and cutting edge labs like those found in companies specialized in calibration services.
The other important consideration is equipment and instrumentation. In order to accurately calibrate precision instruments is necessary specialized lab equipment such as auto-collimators, interferometers, rotary tables, and gauge block comparators. Because this type of equipment is usually expensive it is generally found only in independent calibration labs.
How often is enough?
Although there are no rules that dictate how often should be performed calibration on the measuring instruments, the main factors that determine the calibration frequency are mishandling and usage.
There are many quality control specialists who are assuming that measuring instruments need be calibrated annually. However, that is not true and calibration process should occur at regular intervals determined on the basis of the manufacturer recommendations, purpose, stability, and usage. Whenever an even occurs that affects the instrument’s accuracy, recalibration should be performed.
There are many available companies that offer calibration services and you have to select the right one depending s upon your particular needs. Always pick an accredited calibration service. The company should provide formal evidence their competency in performing instrument accuracy assessments. A calibration service should indicate the industry standards used by the procedure and provide a report that states the accuracies of measurement results, the resolutions, and the tolerances.