Your equipment can only be as effective as its calibration, and who you employ to do it is an essential aspect of the process. In-house and outsourced calibration are the two main methods of calibration, and whatever you choose could either pay off or fail the project.
In-house Calibration is the process of a company calibrating its instruments themselves. Outsourced Calibration is when a third-party calibration laboratory handles the equipment for you. Each method does carry benefits. However, choosing must be well-thought-out to find what best works for your business. Here’s a guide to help you decide which method might work best for you.
Questions to Ask:
The first step in this guide of choosing between in-house or outsourced calibrations is to answer these questions about your instruments:
- How much are you willing to invest in each instrument?
- How much spare time do you have?
- How often is the instrument in use? Daily? Weekly? Monthly?
- How often does the manufacturer recommend calibrating the instrument?
- Does the instrument need to be calibrated to a standard?
- Do you have employees trained in calibration?
Why Your Instruments Might Not be Working
Improper calibration or an absence of calibration can lead to hazards within the lab or out in the field. There are several reasons why an instrument is not performing as it should.
- Overdue Calibration – Overtime instruments won’t work as well as they used to and won’t give accurate data. It happens with almost all machinery; it’s the wear and tear process. Calibrating your instruments will test the data’s accuracy to ensure your tools are performing to their standards.
- Not Used for Intended Purpose – An instrument is built with a specified calibration accuracy in mind. Using the device as if it has a different level of precision can result in serious precautions.
- Over Calibration – Manufacturers give Calibration time frames for the instruments for a reason. Just like avoiding a calibration, performing too often can cause risk.
- Incorrect Calibration – Every instrument has a specific way of doing its calibration. Therefore, the calibrating engineer must have prior knowledge of working in a lab setting and calibrating. An instrument incorrectly calibrated can have severe consequences for employees and the workplace or the customers.
There are pros and cons to in-house calibrations. However, there’s a fine line to whether you’re saving money or spending more, and it all comes down to whether an organization has access to a lab with all the calibration equipment and tools available.
To perform calibration, a company must set up all the required utilities. In addition, a calibration lab, facility, and trained employees are needed. That would mean a company must train employees or hire lab technicians from outside. According to e2bcal, all the required equipment and training for employees in the startup will cost around $350,000, plus an estimated $75,000 annually to run the lab.
Not only could in-house calibrations cost you money, but they can also cost a company time. This is because much time would be spent training employees to perform calibrations and pulling their time to calibrations rather than their daily tasks.
For many companies, in-housing may not be an option. More time and money could be spent creating a calibration lab; however, there is no guarantee that the calibration will be done correctly.
A reputable authority should accredit an outsourced calibration lab. Accreditation ensures that the calibration is carried out following industry standards. The ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation outlines the general requirements for calibration and testing competence. The certification is voluntary, and it demonstrates that the lab is concerned about quality control. Furthermore, calibration labs need to meet the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) regulation.
Quality assurance is ensured by sending instruments to a certified and accredited lab. Staff working at a calibration lab have been specifically trained to undertake this work. In contrast, employees working in an in-house calibration lab may be split between numerous duties.
A reputable calibration lab should provide documentation and certification of an instrument’s calibration. This not only confirms that the instrument was calibrated correctly, but it also serves as a unique identification for internal record-keeping.
Work With an ISO/IEC 17025 Accredited Lab
Whether your business decides on in-house or outsourced calibration, it is critical that all instruments receive the proper calibration. If you outsource your calibration, find an accredited ISO/IEC 17025 lab that meets regulatory standards and provides the necessary documentation. SRP control systems understand instrument calibration and have been helping businesses for over 40 years with their on-site, accredited laboratory. They recognize that not only you will need quality work, but it will be handled quickly to keep production running smoothly. Contact them today.