When you are deciding to buy a piece of test equipment, you would very likely look at its datasheet to ensure that it can perform within certain key specifications important to testing your product. After the purchase, you rely on this equipment to ensure the quality of your products. Over time, you need to make sure that the equipment continues to perform within its original specifications, in order to ensure the validity of your product test results. In other words, can you be sure you are actually shipping only good products, and rejecting every bad one?
This is where calibration comes in.
The purpose of calibration is to verify the actual specifications that your equipment is currently performing to, and to make sure they are within limits as prescribed by the manufacturer, your internal quality standards, or specific customer requirements. This verification is done using external lab standards that have better performance and are traceable to an international system of units via national metrology institutes.
Why calibrate? There are many good justifications for calibration.
Calibration to Validate Quality Processes
In the engineering lab, measurements must be as accurate as possible to ensure that the designer gets an accurate understanding of the device’s behavior. Wrong interpretation of the design behavior will lead to unnecessary design turns, and the further down the development schedule this occurs, the higher the cost.
In manufacturing testing, calibration plays a vital part in validating that the quality processes put in place are under statistical control and operating within allowed tolerances. The cost of product failures in customer hands is usually much higher than the cost of maintaining a good quality process, because it can involve product returns and replacements, managing the returned products (reverse logistics), and potential public relations issues.
For equipment used in critical and high-risk applications such as those found in the medical and defense industries, products are expected to operate to higher standards and withstand harsher environments. Industry regulations and contract terms will require it as well, and your organization must be able to deliver to these requirements in order to compete in these markets.
From ensuring customer satisfaction, lowering long-term operating costs, and meeting regulatory or contract requirements, calibration is a must for any business hoping to deliver high quality products in the most cost-effective manner.
Are you pondering whether or not to calibrate your equipment? Talk to MAT to further understand the cost of calibrating vs. risk of not calibrating, and any of your unique requirements of challenges. We will help you to make sense of it.