Instrument Calibration For All the Right Reasons

Published on 14 December, 2012 at 11:00

There are many differing definitions for calibration but the one we believe to be most applicable is;

 “Calibration is a testing protocol whose objective is to provide and maintain confidence in the measurement and control data upon which production decisions are consistently implemented”.
 
This protocol is applicable to ALL devices in the decision making process including both production and laboratory equipment.
 
In our experience, on too many occasions, this objective may not be the main driver in a calibration program, with calibrations repeatedly completed out of habit. Calibration programs may be seen as overly expensive and troublesome in facilities, especially where the objective of the program is not fully communicated. Constant feedback on equipment status pre and post calibration coupled with detailed execution planning will help increase awareness of the value of a correctly implemented calibration program.
 
Company resources are finite, and each task in the production chain, including calibration MUST add value. A calibration program starts with all groups in an organisation;
  • Identifying critical equipment items
  • Defining the required operating parameters for these items so that product can be consistently manufactured to the required specifications.
All too often calibration programs are set up to verify the equipment manufacturers stated accuracy, which is both costly and inappropriate. This tends to happen in cases where accuracy requirements have not been defined before equipment is purchased. What this achieves is retrospective validation of purchasing decisions which is not the same as demonstrating confidence in a manufacturing process.
 
There are multiple components of a correctly implemented calibration program but defining what items in a production process have the greatest influence on product quality should be the starting place.
 
All production processes are unique and it’s critical that each operating organisation defines why and how they intend operating the calibration program in their facility. Calibration needs to deliver confidence in the production process and should not be something run to satisfy an external audience.
 
SALCAN Process Technology has detailed experience in setting up / optimising calibration programs in addition to provision of external auditing capabilities. To discuss any specific element(s) of a calibration program please do not hesitate to contact us.

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