How often should you calibrate?
A very common question among calibration technicians and operation managers is the frequency of calibration. When should you calibrate your instruments?
Unfortunately, there is no specific answer to this question. Ideally, you want to calibrate often enough to avoid failed calibrations. At the same time, you want the process to be cost effective and not more expensive than a deviation. There are a lot of factors you should take into account when you decide on the calibration frequency of your instruments.
Here are the most important variables you should consider when deciding on how often to calibrate:
A good starting point is the recommendation of the instrument’s manufacturer. However, you should bear in mind that not all locations in the factory have the same accuracy need. Depending on the criticality of measurement you can increase or decrease the calibration frequency.
Criticality of measurement
The criticality of measurement is a very important factor that you should consider when you make your calibration plan. You should calibrate more often the instruments that are installed in critical locations than instruments that are installed in less critical locations.
Needless to say, in regulated industries like pharmaceuticals and food and beverage, you should be more careful when you decide to decrease the calibration frequency of an instrument. It would be wise to compare first the cost of a calibration to the cost of an out-of-tolerance calibration.
Another aspect that has impact on measurement instruments is the operating and environmental conditions. You can update the calibration frequency depending on how often you use an instrument and whether is under extreme environmental conditions.
Keeping historical data of instrument’s calibration can be very useful when you create the calibration schedules. If the calibration of an instrument fails, you should consider increasing the calibration frequency of that instrument. On the other hand, if an instrument is stable and it meets the tolerance limits without needing to adjust it, you can think of extending the calibration period.
CompuCal calibration software can be of great help in this case. With CompuCal’s advanced automated analysis, you can make informed decisions that are helping our customers to extend their intervals with little or no risk to the process. Contact us to learn more about it.
A special occasion could be the transportation of the instrument or an accidental shock. In these cases, it would be wise to calibrate the instrument. It would be also recommended to have your instruments calibrated before and after a major critical measurement. The main reason is to ensure that the test results will be reliable.
So, what’s the answer?
To sum up, there is no magic answer about how often you should calibrate. However, you can make your calibration schedules based on the conditions, the circumstances and the stability history of your instruments. For the last one, a calibration manager software can be your best friend.