On the shop floor, you encounter a variety of people that rely on accurate equipment. Depending on their role, they may not be aware of the calibration testing process. This can become an issue if work processes rely on specific tooling for completion. The key is to make sure everyone that uses calibrated tooling is aware of manufacturing equipment calibration.
Most technicians understand that equipment should be checked for accuracy and safety. However they don’t always know when this needs to occur. The key to calibration testing is that it occurs regularly. But what does regular mean? Often those that are new to quality procedures get confused that equipment has differing calibration intervals. Technicians that understand quality procedures are more likely to follow them. The manufacturing equipment interval starts with the manufacturer recommendation.
There are two reasons to begin with the manufacturer’s recommendation. The manufacturer will have the most insight into how quickly parts on the instrument may lose accuracy. Their recommendations are often supported by industry standards. Most quality programs will start manufacturing equipment calibration intervals based on these recommendations.
Internal or regulatory quality guidelines often defer to the manufacturer advice. It would be counterintuitive to use calibration intervals greater than the guidance provided in the equipment manual.
One of the best sources of information is past calibration data. This data can be used to determine if the calibration interval is appropriate. Looking at passing rate is a good place to start, but more information is often needed. The “as found” condition is the most important point of reviewing historic data. If the “as found” data is out of specifications, this signals an issue. Try to determine if instruments of this type are commonly found out of tolerance. Are there any commonalities between equipment location, technician, or department that may alert a quality issue?
Most types of equipment will have recommended preventative maintenance. This process can be as simple as cleaning before use to routine parts replacement or adjustment. Performance of intended preventative maintenance aids in equipment useful life an accuracy. The testing interval should also reflect the general condition of the instrument.
If technicians or operators are thorough with tool maintenance, tooling accuracy can be sustained for a longer time. In an environment where tooling is shared amongst many technicians, it can be very difficult to determine if preventative maintenance is occurring regularly. If preventative maintenance and tool care are lacking, tooling may require calibration at shorter intervals.
Calibration may occur at irregular times if the instrument sustains damage or it is found to be out of tolerance. If the instrument can impact overall safety or contains sensitive parts, it will be sent for calibration immediately. If this happens, the following calibration cycles can be shifted to occur at the next interval from the new date.
If you have any questions about manufacturing equipment calibration, contact the team at ISO 17025 accredited laboratory, e2b calibration.