How often should you calibrate your equipment?
Like many questions, there’s no one-word answer.
It depends on a number of key factors.
But there are some helpful principles to guide us (including one we can learn from basketball legend, Michael Jordan).
Let’s explore them.
Be like Mike
If you’ve seen Michael Jordan’s latest documentary, The Last Dance – in fact, even if you’ve watched no more than a single highlight reel – you’ll know that he was one of the greatest sportsmen in history… across any sport, not just basketball.
Experts say that his game was perfectly calibrated for the sport.
How did he do it?
While he undoubtedly possessed raw skill and innate talent, he admits that it was through constant, relentless fine tuning of his skills that he was able to achieve greatness.
Of course, the same applies in any discipline and field.
If your business relies on the performance of your key instruments and equipment, you’ll need to calibrate and fine tune them regularly to achieve optimal results.
But what exactly does ‘regular’ calibration look like?
How often is ‘regularly”?
Here are some key questions to ask when determining the correct calibration internal for your equipment.
- What does the manufacturer say?Manufacturers will specify recommended calibration intervals for their equipment – typically in the instruction manual. So that’s often the first place to start. However, a word of caution: certain critical measurement applications may require more frequent intervals as may specific industry regulations (more on this below).
- Are you about to commence a critical measuring project?Not all projects are equal. If a particular testing process requires highly accurate measurements, it may be necessary to ensure your instruments are within specification before using them… even if you’ve had them calibrated recently. Even a single use of an instrument can impact accuracy and, if your project is particularly sensitive, it’s worth taking precautions to ensure your equipment is within tolerance.
- Have you just completed a critical measuring project?Pre-testing your equipment is crucial for critical measuring projects. But so is post-testing. That way, you can have confidence that your instruments were reliable and the measurements were accurate. In fact, in certain industries pre and post-testing calibrations may be mandatory.
- Has your instrument been damaged?What if your instrument fell to the ground or was knocked? In such cases, it’s best practice to have it professionally calibrated to validate its integrity. Indeed, sometimes the damage may not be visible to the naked eye and yet it may nevertheless impact its performance and accuracy.
- What are the relevant standards and requirements?For some industry measurements, there may be requirements flowing from standards or regulations. These regulations may specify the accepted length of the calibration period, regardless of other factors like how critical the measurement is. While many regulations mandate annual calibrations, be sure to review the specifications and requirements relevant to your specific process before testing.
- What are the trends over time?In general, the shorter the intervals between calibrations the more confidence you can have in their accuracy. But to help you work out precisely when those intervals should fall, it can help to look for trends. That is, you periodically review your calibrated equipment and note any changes. For example, as your instruments age, you might notice some changes before the next calibration interval. This trend analysis can help you determine when your instruments should be calibrated based on your unique application and usage.
If you need any advice about how often you should calibrate your specific instruments, just get in touch with our expert calibration technicians. We’re here to help.