SELECTING A QUALITY CALIBRATION LABORATORY
23 September 2019
A calibration laboratory should have equipment that is capable of calibrating 4-10 times the resolution of the tools being calibrated. (Source: Starrett)
Many companies determine the outsourcing precision measurement gages and tools for calibration is the best choice for maintaining accuracy and repeatability -vs- in-house calibration methods, which can be error-prone and more expensive to set up, equip, staff, and maintain. After a decision is made to outsource calibration, it is time to choose a reliable source.
Start with the following:
1) Accreditation: An accredited calibration laboratory will adhere to specific management and technical requirements for running a quality operation. An accredited lab will ensure compliance with today’s ever-changing standards.
A reputable calibration lab will be accredited through an accreditation body recognized thy the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).
2) Equipment: In accordance with 17025 accreditation, a laboratory needs to have certain equipment to perform calibration services. This includes equipment that is capable of calibrating to very fine resolutions-usually 4-10 times the resolution of the tools being calibrated. For example, good calibration equipment includes gage blocks and lasers that are accurate up to millionths of an inch.
3) Experience & Size: As a good rule of thumb, it is good to learn how long the laboratory has been performing calibration. Solid experience and a lengthy track record can be good indicators that the laboratory knows its trade well. Also, consider the number of employees at a calibration lab. Be cautioned that even when there is a specialist in certain areas, it is not uncommon to see smaller 1 or 2 person outfits go out of business.
4) Verify Ability: A good guideline for turnaround is a minimum of 3 days and a maximum of 10 days. Request references to determine if the facility is consistent and efficient in its services. If possible, schedule a visit to tour the calibration facility. A firsthand look at operations can reveal how the facility is being run. Is it clean and orderly -vs- untidy and unorganized?
5) Scope of Service and Documentation: Most companies have gages from different manufacturers so it is best to work with a calibration lab that can handle all major brands in one location. It is cumbersome and inefficient to send tools to various sources. A calibration lab should be able to service a wide variety of tools and gages.
Be sure the calibration lab can provide correct documentation after a tool is calibrated. The calibration certificate should include the actual readings taken during the calibration of the tool. When consistently using a dedicated, independent calibration source, product quality and reliability will increase. Plus, larger companies benefit by standardizing their gage calibration and record keeping within one source.
Precision measurement gages and tools represent a significant investment and are a critical component for manufacturing quality products. The use of an accredited laboratory that can meet an organizations calibration requirement will ensure that this investment is projected.
For more than 30 years, Scientific Instrument Center has served businesses. We provide thorough, honest, and dependable services specializing in scientific equipment maintenance and scientific equipment calibrations.
To inquire about our services, you may contact us or give us a call at (614) 771-4700.
We are here to answer any questions you may have.