The timely calibration of equipment and the tracking of calibration documentation are some of the main sources of nonconformances during internal or ISO-based audits for many organizations.
The use of calibration software to track and manage an organization’s calibration activities is one solution available to assist in the implementation of a solid foundation to guide all calibration activities.
The calibration software will manage and store an organization’s calibration data and records on all of their equipment. With a software-based calibration system, the planning, scheduling, and analysis of the calibration data are streamlined. The software can handle all calibration functions such as produce calibration reports, certificates and labels, automatically update calibration due dates, store calibration procedures and track procedure revision levels, send calibration due reminder e-mails to all departments or customers, set up automatic alerts for on-site or other scheduled calibrations and even assist in the creation of uncertainty budgets.
Using calibration software is a cost-effective solution that can result in an automated paperless calibration process which will improve the overall quality, productivity, and reliability of the calibration results.
The implementation of a software-based calibration system has many benefits to improve an organizations calibration process and helps to reduce calibration costs.
The use of commercial calibration software is most beneficial for organizations that need to manage a large amount of equipment requiring calibration. For smaller organizations, an Access database or Excel spreadsheet may be all that is required.
A fairly simple spreadsheet can be developed to keep track of when machines or tools require maintenance or measuring equipment was last calibrated. The spreadsheet can contain the equipment information and location, calibration or maintenance dates and intervals, and links to calibration certificates or maintenance reports. Simple spreadsheet functions, such as conditional formatting, can highlight when maintenance events are due or overdue to be performed.
No matter what type of software management system is being used, the information and outputs of the system are considered to be a quality record and must comply with any specific ISO-based record control and retention requirements. The software itself should be fully validated to ensure that it is designed and operates as it is intended to be used and should be protected from unauthorized access and tampering. The software and all records should be backed up regularly and the backup file must be kept in a place where it cannot be destroyed by an accident, natural disaster or fire.
Not only is software used to manage calibration systems, but it is also widely used in the automation of the calibration process itself. There are a number of ‘Smart’ calibrators or other process calibrators that can automate calibration measurement collection by allowing the user to remotely control and communicate with compatible equipment such as multimeters and other electronic instruments, pressure gauges, digital thermometers, torque, and some digital dimensional measurement equipment.
Calibration automation has many potential benefits, including improving technician efficiency, ensuring better measurements by eliminating human error and bias and providing consistency in the calibration processes.
Using automation can increase the productivity of some calibrations by up to 50% and reduce the workload of calibration technicians to allow them to accomplish twice as many calibrations in a given period of time.
Software management and automation systems for calibrations can provide an effective data acquisition and management platform for organizations to integrate into their calibration program to maintain the quality and integrity of their measurement data for years into the future.
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