For those outside of the quality profession, it may seem like calibration is an unnecessary cost or process. Contrary to popular belief, calibration can actually save a company money by contributing to process control, maintaining quality requirements, and enhancing customer confidence. To get a crash course in reasons to calibrate equipment, look at the top three points below.
Measurement equipment, such as calipers and micrometers, are often used to check part quality. If the part falls outside of a specified tolerance, as measured by the instrument, they are rejected. All parts that are in measurement tolerance are passed. If an instrument is not checked for accuracy, bad parts could be accepted or good parts could be thrown out. Possible problems that could stem from bad part acceptance are recalls, damaged reputation, or lost customers. Scrapping good parts can result in material waste, incomplete orders, or late orders.
One of the reasons that companies try to get ISO certification is that it communicates quality and efficiency. More organizations are using ISO as selection criteria. ISO advocates adherence to a Quality Management System (which often require testing to ensure accuracy). In addition to ISO, companies may also have strict internal quality policies that include regular equipment calibration.
Among the top reasons to calibrate equipment is extension of usable life. ISO/IEC 17025 accredited calibration laboratories commonly will inspect an instrument that fails testing for damage. Calibration technicians can often make adjustments and minor repairs to get equipment back to working condition. This process can lead to detection of damage that would have gone otherwise unnoticed.
To keep equipment in top form, manufacturers will recommend calibration. The ideal interval can often be found in the product manual or at the manufacturer website. Can’t find any information about suggested calibration intervals? Ask your calibration laboratory for guidance.
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