What are the Differences Between Calibration and Inspection and Testing?

What are the Differences Between Calibration and Inspection and Testing?


With all the terms and different requirements for a lab, it can be overwhelming keeping it all straight. Calibration, inspection, and testing all refer to making sure that your equipment is accurate; however, the differences between the three are significant.

What Does Calibration Mean?

Calibration is a comparison of something to a standard.  When a measurement device is calibrated, it’s compared to an accepted standard and adjustments are made if necessary.

It bases the procedures on the manufacturer’s procedures.

It is a longer, more detailed process resulting in a calibration report that gives a pass or a fail for each specific function.  They adjust a device that does not meet the specifications.

It is not one that you can not test.  Incorrect measurements can cause lost time and money and could result in undetected hazardous conditions.  Whether they use the equipment in laboratories, factories, on-site or even at home they must be calibrated regularly.

They do instrument calibration on different types of instruments across sectors.  This includes pressure, temperature, flow, electrical, and mechanical calibration.

It is imperative to use a lab that has an ISO 17025 accreditation.  This accreditation means that the laboratory’s quality management system and technical competence have been evaluated by a third party.  The lab has met the requirements and deemed competent to produce calibration and testing results. The National Research Council (NRC) has a formal accreditation Calibration Laboratory Assessment Service (CLAS) that you want a lab to have as well.  The CLAS certification is a requirement for Standards Council of Canada accreditation of laboratories.  These certifications ensure that the lab is able to produce quality calibration services for you.

What is an Inspection?

An inspection is specifically the evaluation for conformity.  By measuring, observing, testing, or gauging characteristics.  It compares the results with specific requirements to establish whether it achieves conformity for each characteristic.

Maintenance and inspection of equipment are important, however, not a requirement like calibration.

How is Testing Different?

A technical operation that consists of the determination of one or more characteristics of a given product, process or service according to a specified procedure.

What Does Functional Testing Determine?

What functional testing determines is if it is functioning correctly.  The testing involves exposing the item to a stimulus and verifying the equipment responds accordingly.

These tests are on a pass or fail report and if they fail, then they are repaired or adjusted as necessary.

For example, voltage detectors and a variety of meters are subjected to this type of testing.

Accreditation’s and Lab Standards

When having your equipment calibrated, inspected or tested the most important thing as a laboratory manager is to verify that the company has an ISO 17025 accreditation.  You also will want to check that they have an ISO 9001 registration.  They define an ISO 9001 as the international standard that specifies requirements for a quality management system.  Thus, demonstrating their ability to provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements.  Your lab’s equipment is critical in efficiency and effectiveness. So, an understanding of the different regulations and requirements.  As well as working with a lab like SRP Control Systems that understands accuracy and quality is important to their clients.