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Calibration of laboratory equipment

Calibration of laboratory equipment is the process of comparing readings on one piece of equipment or system with another piece of equipment that has been calibrated and referenced to a set of known parameters. Equipment used as a reference must be directly traceable to equipment calibrated according to ISO/IEC 17025.

ISO/IEC 17025 is the international standard for the accreditation of testing and calibration laboratories. It includes quality management system requirements along with technical requirements. In the UK, ISO/IEC 17025 certification is provided by UKAS. Therefore, often a calibration performed by an ISO/IEC 17025 accredited laboratory is referred to as a “UKAS calibration”.

The importance of calibration of laboratory equipment

All companies must ensure that the results provided by the measuring equipment we have in the laboratory are  correct  Calibration of laboratory equipment is the only way  to control all the variables of our processes, guarantee the quality of our products and provide all the security required by the current market. 

The key is to obtain reliable data that allows us to analyze and therefore make important decisions.

Maintain laboratory equipment performance

Each laboratory instrument definitely has its own function. Therefore, in order to maintain this performance, a calibration procedure is necessary. By calibrating lab equipment, you as the instrument owner can find out if the instrument is still working as it claims or if it has problems that require replacement.
Just imagine if a tool that has reduced its performance quality is still being used. The results of testing or measuring with laboratory instruments will certainly be invalid. In addition, an unspecified decrease in performance quality also has the potential to render the device damaged and unusable.

Maintain the accuracy of measuring results

For laboratory instruments that are used as measuring instruments, the calibration method should never be omitted. By performing calibration, instrument measurement results can remain accurate and in line with approved reference standards. The results of measurement tools can be considered valid and recognizable.
Incorrect measurement results will definitely hurt many parties. From the consumer’s point of view, test results cannot describe real conditions, so there is a risk of misinterpretation. Meanwhile, from the owner’s point of view, the instrument can suffer because unauthorized measurement results affect the company’s reputation.

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Diagnosing disorders by calibrating laboratory equipment

In the process of calibration of laboratory equipment, the accuracy of the equipment will be checked. If there is a difference in value between the calibrated instrument and the certified reference standard, the cause should be investigated immediately. In this way, interference or errors in laboratory equipment can be detected early before more serious damage occurs.
For this reason, it is necessary to perform calibration regularly, especially for laboratory equipment that has a heavy workload. Heavy-duty laboratory equipment is more exposed to external elements that have the potential to interfere with their performance. To schedule a calibration for the instrument, you can follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Adjust to your local conditions and conditions to make the calibration program more accurate.

Minimizing the risk of work accidents

Calibration of laboratory equipment, apart from being a method to check the level of accuracy, is also a work safety method. The calibration procedure ensures that the instrument is working according to its specifications. Calibration also includes a procedure to repair the instrument if there is a break or problem with the instrument.
Problematic tools, but still in use, seriously compromise worker safety. Hazards such as heat emitting tools, hazardous chemical splashes, and even explosions can occur if the injury is not attended to immediately. Calibration prevents this from happening by identifying signs of damage followed by a corrective action.

How to perform temperature calibration

In common usage, calibration is often considered to involve the process of adjusting the output or indication on a measuring instrument to match an applied standard value, within a specified accuracy, but it is actually two processes: calibration and adjustment. So it is important to know exactly what services you need. It is also important to know what is being calibrated and how the calibration is done.

For example, consider a digital thermometer that uses an external temperature probe. Some calibration service providers perform calibration using a simulated temperature value applied to the thermometer only (ie, no temperature probe). Here, a test instrument is connected to the digital thermometer and a voltage corresponding to a specific temperature is applied to the digital thermometer. The result is recorded and then the thermometer is considered calibrated.

Many users need and expect more accurate calibration to reflect real-world use. Here, the preferred method is to test both the digital thermometer and the temperature probe together (in other words, “test the system”) and use an actual heat source. The value displayed by the system under test is then compared with the standard (system with known or determined accuracy from the first paragraph).

Why is calibration of laboratory equipment so important?

Calibration defines the accuracy and quality of measurements recorded using a piece of equipment. Over time, results and accuracy tend to “drift” when using certain technologies or measuring certain parameters such as temperature and humidity. To ensure measured results, there is a constant need to maintain equipment calibration throughout its lifetime for reliable, accurate and repeatable measurements.

The purpose of calibration is to minimize any measurement uncertainty by ensuring the accuracy of the test equipment. Calibration quantifies and controls errors or uncertainties in measurement processes to an acceptable level.

How to do food industry calibration

In catering or commercial kitchens, the consequences of using equipment that is not calibrated can be that the critical temperature of the food is not measured correctly. This can lead to:

  • A food safety issue
  • HACCP violation and sick customers
  • Notices from the environmental health official about the closure
  • legal action

All of these damage the reputation of a business. The potential cost to reputation, compared to the cost of a simple two-point annual calibration, means that it is often not worth the risk of skipping calibration.

How to perform calibration of the manufacture

In manufacturing process applications, any equipment used must be calibrated at multiple points within its operating range to ensure reliable information for alarms and critical systems. Lack of calibration or improper calibration has been the cause of injury, death and even major environmental disasters.

How often should we calibrate laboratory equipment?

Consider the cost of calibration as an investment and the potential consequences of an incorrect reading as the cost of not making the investment.

For most industries, the standard is annual calibration. As you obtain the results of the calibration tests, you will be in a position to potentially adjust the frequency of the calibrations and/or upgrade to more robust measurement tools as needed. Most calibration laboratories provide a printed calibration certificate for the customer to maintain as proof of quality standards.

Sources :

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