What is instrument calibration and why is it important?23 Sep 2020
Two of the most common questions we get asked are "what is instrument calibration?" and "why is instrument calibration important?". The answers are relatively simple, so we thought we'd explain in this short article!
What is instrument calibration?
Instrument calibration is the process of comparing a scientific measurement instrument to a standard of known accuracy, to determine the reliability of the data the device is capturing. There are two common types of calibration, field calibration and laboratory calibration.
Field calibration is the process of using a calibration source to verify an instrument's accuracy before and after a series of measurements are taken. Laboratory calibration is often mandated by regulations and requires an instrument to be sent to a dedicated calibration centre for more in-depth and accurate verification. A calibration certificate is made available once a device has been laboratory calibrated to show the measured results for the instrument versus the measured results from the standard of known accuracy.
Why is instrument calibration important?
Instrument calibration, as described above, compares the accuracy of an instrument against a known standard and so reflects the accuracy and quality of measurements that that instrument takes. An instrument's accuracy tends to 'drift' over time, especially when measuring particular parameters such as temperature and humidity. In order to be confident in the accuracy of your results and the data your instruments produce, it's incredibly important to have the accuracy of your instruments checked at regular intervals throughout its lifetime. This will help guarantee reliable, accurate and repeatable measurements.
Instrument calibration aims to minimise any uncertainty within your measurement dataset by ensuring the accuracy of measurement equipment. It's particularly important in industries where strict standards and regulations are in place, such as food/catering and manufacturing.
Instrument calibration in the food and catering industry
Within the food and catering industry, especially in commercial kitchens for hotels, restaurants, bars and food manufacturing/processing facilities, the implications of using a piece of equipment that is recording inaccurate data due to improper calibration could be that critical food temperature is incorrectly measured; which could lead to:
- A food safety issue
- Breach of HACCP and consumer illness
- Environmental Health Officer notices of closure
These things could damage your reputation, and when you consider the possible implications of not calibrating, it's often not worth the risk of ignoring it.
Instrument calibration in the manufacturing industry
In the manufacturing industry, any equipment that is used should be calibrated at multiple points across its operating range to ensure that reliable and accurate information is fed to system-critical critical alarms, warning systems and fail-safes. Failing to calibrate or inaccurate calibration has been known to cause injury, death and even major environmental disasters.
How often should you calibrate your measurement instruments?
The frequency of instrument calibration often depends on the industry and type of instrument. However, the majority of sectors and industry-specific standards and regulations suggest annual calibration as the norm. It's essential to think of the cost of calibrating your instruments in terms of investing money to avoid potential errors or mistakes caused by not calibrating.
Most calibration laboratories, including Eurolec's, supply an official calibration certificate for you to retain as proof of that your instruments meet the required standards.
To sum up, instrument calibration is incredibly important wherever measurements are incredibly important. Instrument calibration enables users and businesses to have confidence in the data that your instruments capture, and subsequently control. Eurolec Instruments offer a comprehensive instrument calibration service that covers a range of measurement instruments, including thermometer calibration, manometer calibration, hygrometer calibration and digital gauge calibration. All our calibration work is traceable to UKAS and with more than 40 years' experience in the business, we're incredibly well-placed to provide your business with the confidence and peace-of-mind you need to carry out your operations safely, effectively and reliably.