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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 detected, dealing with it can be frustrating and time-consuming in the field.

Avoiding calibration drift plays an essential role in maintaining measurement accuracy. No matter your equipment, it is a common problem for all instruments in various 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

Deviations cause drift errors 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 sudden change in temperature or humidity can cause drift.
  • Misuse, Mishandling, or Neglect
  • Exposure to Harsh Conditions – Corrosive substances or extreme temperatures can cause your instrument’s calibration trouble.
  • Sudden Shock – Sudden mechanical or electrical shock or vibration will affect the instrument. Dropping the device 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.

Some of these causes can be avoided by handling gauges properly and shielding them from damaging conditions. However, calibration drift can occur naturally over time and must 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 increase risk, but calibration drift can also harm the longevity of your equipment. This is especially true when the drift is caused by something other than natural degradation.

Restoring calibration is essential to preserving your investment and ensuring you can access reliable measurements when needed.

Solving Calibration Drift

Though you can prevent some environmental causes of gauge drift, the best way to protect your equipment is to calibrate your instruments professionally. Depending on your industry, you may need to have instruments calibrated yearly or more often. You may need to calibrate your instrument when it produces readings that don’t seem correct, or you need confirmation of its calibration accuracy.

Calibration Solutions

Calibration drift can take the instruments out of the field and show down your operation. To help you return to work with the correct equipment, look for an accredited company that knows your instruments. The SRP Controls laboratory maintains one of Canada’s most extensive equipment and calibration solutions providers. 

By offering a wide range of calibrations and services based on a lab’s specific calibration needs, we can help you maintain integrity and calibrate speedily to keep your business running.

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