You have just bought a new thermometer to measure the temperature of a solution you prepare for clients. The solution needs to be a specific temperature and you assume that the new thermometer you bought gives an accurate measurement. However, there is a possibility that this thermometer gives an incorrect measurement, or is “off” by one or two degrees. To ensure that you get a correct temperature measurement from your thermometer, you should get it calibrated
What is calibration?
By definition a calibration is a set of operations which, under specific conditions, establishes a relationship between the values of quantities indicated by a measuring instrument, your new thermometer, and the corresponding values realized by standards – our reference temperature. The result of a calibration provides the user with an uncertainty, or range of uncertainties for a set of measurements. The uncertainty is simply a collection of values within which the measurement can deviate, and can be viewed as a statement of confidence in the measurement provided. For example if the uncertainty of a thermometer is + 10C, any reading you take can be within a range of 10C more or 10C less.
How can something go out of calibration or be due for calibration?
Instruments tend to “drift” over time, due to environmental factors, frequency of usage and mechanical and electrical components inherent to the instrument. For example, a new electronic balance might give you a 10kg reading for a 10kg weight, but, after a year of use, this reading may be 9.9kg. That 0.1kg difference is due to instrument drift – a product of day-to-day wear and tear, and calibrations should be assessed periodically because of this. This drift will vary for every instrument and calibration is a way of competently tracking and applying corrections to your results. Frequent re-calibration of instruments ensures measurements that you can trust.
Who should be using this service?
Only after measuring can something be analyzed, controlled and improved. If your business offers testing services to clients, whether it is the weighing of goods, water quality testing or analytical chemistry and you want the information you produce to be reliable, you should be concerned about the quality of the instruments you use and the measurements they provide. Businesses with active quality management systems such as ISO 9001 or ISO 17025 are required to have equipment routinely calibrated. In addition, using an accredited calibration laboratory ensures that your calibration and therefore your measurements will be globally recognized; this also increases the export capabilities of your product.
Calibration also allows you to accurately track your equipment and instrument reliability and control your processes accordingly. Simply put, if you care about the quality of the testing services you offer to customers and your product, you should care about calibration.