10 Reasons to Calibrate Your Instruments

At its core, calibration provides a way to find the best estimate of the true value of a quantity being measured. There is no way to find the true value of a measurement, but it's possible to get close. That closeness to the truth is what we refer to as accuracy. Calibration is a way to ensure measurements taken from a device are acceptably close to the true value. This is done by comparing the device output to a reference device that is more accurate. Best practices dictate this reference device should be traceable to a national or an international standard traceable to SI units.

Why Calibrate?

In industry and science, it is important to measure parameters accurately in order to design processes or experiments that get repeatable results. In some cases slight changes in the initial condition of a parameter can cause large changes in results, so accurate measurement is critical. Accuracy ensures repeatable quality in the production of products. Customers will gravitate toward products that are reliable and meet their expectations. Product accuracy is a measure of compliance with those expectations and it is the key component used to communicate the quality of a product. 

The reasons to calibrate are simple. Calibration of components, equipment, and products can:

  1. Save Money
    Cost and waste reduction through standardization will increase profits.
  2. Ensure Safety
    Calibrated products and components perform as expected and are safe to use.
  3. Ensure Quality
    Calibrated components and equipment will produce standardized products reliably.
  4. Shorten Production Time
    When quality components are available, no time is wasted replacing out of tolerance components.
  5. Assure Compliance to Certifications
    Compliance to industry regulations and company certifications is assured.
  6. Determine Accuracy
    Calibration will allow reliable reporting of product accuracy.
  7. Provides Traceability
    Calibrations may be performed with traceability to national standards, if necessary.
  8. Increase Consistency and Reliability
    Products built to the proper specification perform better and last longer.
  9. Compensate for Drift
    Drift error is corrected by regular calibration.
  10. Prevent and Predict Process Failures
    Reliable and accurate sensors can detect gradual movement toward out of tolerance process conditions.

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How Often Should You Calibrate?

All sensors drift, some more than others. Manufacturers usually have a good idea of how long it will take for a sensor to drift to an out-of-tolerance condition. A manufacturer will recommend a "calibration interval" based on their experience and a sensor's inherent calibration stability. This calibration interval is usually found in the sensor's specification. The "recommendation" implies some leeway to extend or reduce the interval based on the ongoing history of an individual sensor. Some sensors may remain in tolerance longer than other. In practice it is up to the user to determine when to re-calibrate based on experience with each sensor.

Check out Mensor and WIKA's full calibration services worldwide, including pressure, temperature, mass and electrical capabilities. 

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