How Calibration Drift Causes Errors

How Calibration Drift Causes Errors

How Calibration Drift Causes Errors

Measurement and control devices are delivered and calibrated to international standards.  Over time, they will lose their accuracy and measurement will drift.  Drift can lead to measurement errors and related problems, including safety concerns.  Even when detection occurs it can be frustrating and time-consuming to deal with in the field. Avoiding calibration drift plays an essential role in maintaining measurement accuracy.  No matter the equipment you use, it is a common problem for all instruments in a variety of fields.

What is Calibration Drift?

Calibration drift can be defined as a slow change in the response of a gauge.  It is a slow variation of a performance characteristic such as gain or offset.

Causes of Calibration Drift

Drift errors are caused by deviations in the performance of the measuring instrument that occurs after calibration.  The specific causes may vary depending on the types of gauge you are using; some of the most common causes of gauge drift include:

  • Environment Changes – A significantly sudden change in temperature or humidity can cause drift.
  • Misuse, Mishandling or Neglect –
  • Exposure to Harsh Conditions – Corrosive substances or extreme temperatures can cause trouble for your instrument’s calibration.
  • Sudden Shock – Sudden mechanical or electrical shock or vibration will affect the instrument. Dropping the instrument can equal sudden shock, and calibration errors will follow.
  • Frequency – Frequent use will speed up the need for calibration.
  • Natural Degradation – Calibration over time with use eventually causes drift.

By handling gauges properly and shielding them from damaging conditions these causes are avoidable.  However, calibration drift can occur naturally over time, and then it will need to be looked into.

Why Is Calibration Drift Important?

Unaddressed calibration drift can lead to measurement errors.  Not only will it give you skewed readings and increasing risk, but calibration drift can also harm the longevity of your equipment.  This is especially true when the drift cause is by something other than natural degradation.

Restoring calibration is essential to preserving your investment and ensuring you’ll have access to reliable measurements when you need them.

Solving Calibration Drift

Though you can take precautions to prevent some environmental causes of gauge drift, the best way to protect your equipment is to have your instruments professionally calibrated on a regular basis.  Depending on your industry, you may need to have instruments calibrated yearly or more often.

You may need to have your instrument calibrated when it’s producing readings that don’t seem correct or you need confirmation of its calibration accuracy.

Calibration Solutions

Calibration drift as shown above, can take the instruments out of the field and slow down your operation.  To help you get back to work with accurate equipment, look for an accredited company that has the knowledge with your instruments.  The laboratory at SRP controls maintains one of the most extensive equipment and calibration solutions providers in Canada.  By offering a wide range of calibration and services based on a lab’s specific calibration needs, we can help you maintain the integrity and calibrate in a speedy manner to keep your business running.