THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO USING AND CHOOSING A CALIBRATION LABORATORY

INTRODUCTION

Choosing a calibration lab to meet your company’s needs is a big decision. Your employees and customers depend on the tools you use every day to help them maintain safety, productivity and quality. If the calibration lab you choose cannot hold up to the quality standards you need, they can not only leave you with a long downtime, but could leave you at risk for a liability if someone were to get hurt. It’s important to rigorously vet the calibration companies on your list before finally making your decision.

So how do you know if a calibration company can meet your needs and how to go about choosing one? This whitepaper goes over the essential elements needed in a calibration lab, how to find and choose the right lab for you, questions to ask the calibration lab you’re evaluating and how to write a request for quote.

ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF A CALIBRATION LAB

When using and choosing a calibration laboratory, it is essential to ensure the overall quality of the service received. Properly functioning test equipment is extremely important to assure that the quality and performance of your company’s end products is satisfactory. When you know that your test equipment is performing accurately, you gain confidence in your measurements and pass/fail decisions they produce.

The foundation for both your confidence and your equipment’s accuracy is proper calibration and the baseline for the foundation all starts with the calibration laboratory you select to calibrate your instruments.

Poor quality calibration services have a heavy impact on your company and its reputation. For this reason, it is extremely important to be aware of what exactly calibration should provide. Below, we have listed three essentials of calibration and why they are important.

CALIBRATION KEEPS PROCESSES SAFE

When taking measurements of any parameter, it is crucial that the quantities being measured are accurate. This is because accuracy helps maintain overall safety. Equipment that is not functioning accurately pose a significant safety hazard. With regularly calibration, from a quality calibration lab, processes can be kept safe.

CALIBRATION CAN HELP TO REDUCE COSTS FROM ERRORS

Manufacturing errors can be very costly in many ways. When an error occurs due to improperly calibrated equipment, a company is increasing waste, downtime, overall costs and the number unhappy customers. All of these factors can have a serious impact on a company’s bottom line. To reduce costs related to errors, calibration should be performed regularly by a quality calibration

CALIBRATION MAINTAINS STANDARDS AND CERTIFICATIONS

When test equipment is calibrated regularly, not only is it keeping processes safe and reducing costs from errors, it is also maintaining standard requirements and certifications. When the right calibration provider is chosen, especially if the calibration lab is accredited, it is easy to guarantee compliance with all standards and requirements.

When using and choosing a calibration laboratory, it is important to keep the above three factors in mind. Notably, to ensure that you are getting the calibration you need, you need to start with choosing the right calibration laboratory.

HOW TO FIND AND CHOOSE THE RIGHT CALIBRATION LAB

There are several important dimensions to ensuring that you get the calibration services you need. These dimensions include mapping out your requirements, evaluating potential calibration labs and selecting the best-equipped lab to perform the needed services. By applying each of these dimensions when making the decision to choose and use a calibration laboratory, you are guaranteeing yourself quality calibration service.

MAPPING OUT YOUR REQUIREMENTS

The first step in ensuring you are receiving quality calibration service is to map out your calibration requirements. When you are familiar with you calibration wants and needs, it is easier to choose and use a provider. Three steps to mapping out your requirements include:

EVALUATING A SERVICE PROVIDER

After mapping out your calibration requirements, it is then time to measure potential calibration labs against your needs. When evaluating potential providers, it is important to have a general framework in place. This will help to ensure that the provider meets all of your company’s needs. Evaluation should consist of questions related to a provider’s accreditation status, their calibration capabilities and their documentation processes. After these questions have been administered to the potential calibration providers, your company can then select the best-equipped lab that meets all or most of your calibration needs.

CRITICAL QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN EVALUATING A CALIBRATION LAB

Evaluating a calibration lab to ensure it meets your needs and requirements is one of the most important steps in finding and choosing a suitable calibration provider. As previously mentioned, a general framework needs to be created for the evaluation. This will make sure that all your needs and requirements are touched on in the questions.

To help you get a better idea of what you should be asking while evaluating a calibration lab, we have created a small guide with example questions below.

QUESTIONS TO ASK REGARDING ACCREDITATION

Asking about a calibration laboratory’s accreditation is extremely important. If a lab is accredited, their scope of accreditation needs to match the requirements you are seeking in order to be a good fit. Good questions to see if a lab meets your needs include:

When asking about accreditation and parameters, it is also important to include questions regarding uncertainty ratio measurements. The measurement of uncertainty should be smaller than the specification limits; therefore, you should ask, “What is the best uncertainty measurement you are capable of achieving?”

QUESTIONS TO ASK REGARDING CALIBRATION CAPABILITIES

Knowing a calibration laboratory’s calibration capabilities will also aid in deciding if you should choose them for you calibration needs. Questions to ask regarding calibration capabilities should include:

These questions are important to determine if a calibration provider meets the needs of the type of calibration you are seeking, e.g., higher-level calibrations such as ISO/IEC 17025. A quality provider should be able to perform a full suite of OEM tests covering all test points, perform adjustments if needed and/or perform repairs. Notably, calibration providers who send out equipment to OEMs for adjustment and repairs cause a longer turnaround time and can be more costly.

QUESTIONS TO ASK REGARDING CALIBRATION DOCUMENTATION

Proper documentation of calibration services is another important factor to look for when choosing a calibration provider. Documentation of calibration ensures quality of calibration and in many cases guarantees traceability and reliability. Questions to ask regarding documentation include:

These questions will help confirm that the calibration report is detailed and covers all parameters and test points. They will also aid in helping you confirm that required measurement capabilities are traceable to national standards.

HOW TO WRITE A REQUEST FOR QUOTE

A properly written request for quote for calibration services is extremely important when using and choosing a calibration lab. A request for quote is used to ask calibration labs for the price per tool, the payment terms, the quality requirement and the length of contract for calibration services. It is essential when writing a request for quote to include as much information as possible and to ensure terms and conditions are included. This will guarantee accurate and complete quotes from the calibration provider.

To help you get a better idea of what information should be a part of your request for quote, we have created a small guide on what to include below.

BASIC INFORMATION

When creating a request for quote, you should always start with the basics. Be sure to include:

TOOL SPECIFICATIONS

It’s also important to include tool specifications into your request for quote for calibration services. Specifications should include:

REQUIRED QUALITY AND QUANTITY

Calibration service request for quotes should also include the required quality and quantity of calibration needed. Information in this section should include:

PAYMENT TERMS

The payment terms are also important to include in a request for quote to ensure the calibration lab is offering specific services on a competitive basis. Payment terms should include: