Instrument Calibrations: A Crucial Checklist
What is calibration? Calibration is the process of ensuring that a measuring instrument or system produces accurate measurements. It involves two steps: careful measurement of a physical property and comparison to an accepted reference value. You will often see the term “calibrating” used in conjunction with instruments such as thermometers, pressure gauges, voltmeters, ammeters, and speedometers; these are all examples of calibrated instruments. San Diego Calibration offers service of calibration for pharma and biotech industry.
How does calibration work? To calibrate an instrument, the person performing the process will typically measure and then compare a known value of some physical property with one that is measured by or displayed on the instrument. The difference between these two values can be used to show how accurate (or inaccurate) the measurement from this temperature gauge might have been: it’s +0.02 degrees Celsius (+/- 0.01).
What are limits of accuracy? Limits of accuracy vary depending on what type of equipment you’re using but they all fall within three categories: +/- precision; +/- resolution; and +/- uncertainty. Precision refers to how close successive measurements come to each other in value, while resolution means where there may be small differences among successive readings because of limitations in the instrument. Uncertainty is a measure of how close an estimated measurement might be to the true value, and it takes into account all sources of error (including equipment accuracy).
What are benefits of calibration? Calibration ensures that instruments provide accurate measurements. This can result in better decision-making processes as well as improved quality control for manufacturing processes where variables need to be closely monitored. It also helps protect against litigation because there will be no dispute about what was seen on the recorded data/gauge readings if they were calibrated before use and checked periodically afterwards.
How often should you calibrate your instrumentation? That depends! Instrument manufacturers typically recommend annual or semi-annual checks depending on frequency of usage, but it’s ultimately up to the person responsible for calibration.