How confident are you in your company’s calibration procedure and could external support from a specialist provider improve the quality of your operations?
Calibration is essential to deliver dependable results and keep your process equipment compliant. But it’s a complex process and maintaining a routine calibration schedule can put a lot of pressure on your engineering teams, especially across large operations.
If you have carried out calibrations using your internal team until now, are the people performing the calibration competent to do so?
A competent engineer not only knows enough to carry out the work but they also understand when to stop before they create new problems.
An engineer competent in process equipment calibration is trained, experienced and up to date with industry advances and changes in regulatory standards/equipment.
When this isn’t the case, risk increases across operations, with implications ranging from regulatory non-compliance to quality issues and scrapped loads incurring significant costs.
In our experience, supporting manufacturers with process equipment calibrations, what does that risk look like and how can you build greater confidence in your calibration procedures?
5 key problems when carrying out calibrations
1. Calibration checks not always carried out on time
Calibration checks are time sensitive, but in some cases engineers are not able to meet operational demands. When this happens, it’s often due to the operational demand for calibrations being too high or the engineering resource too few.
It’s also possible that a lack of visibility across the site means the calibration status is unclear. In other words, engineers aren’t always aware that equipment is due a calibration.
2. Variable performance by engineers
As with most manufacturing processes, consistency is key. Understandably then, a variable performance by engineers — when individual engineers aren’t following the same process, or engineer teams from different sites/plants are working to different standards — can lead to calibrations being carried out incorrectly and variations in calibration results.
3. Certificates created days or weeks after the calibration on-site
A delay between the date of the calibration and certification creates periods of time in which the calibration results are effectively up in the air. Were an auditor to visit during this time, equipment may lack specific calibration details.
More generally, risk across the operations increases and vital actions (including adjustments and re-calibration) as a result of the calibration results may also be delayed.
4. Mistakes made when transferring written data onto hard copy certificates
A delay can also increase the likelihood of mistakes being made when written calibration data is transferred onto hard copy certificates. When they arise, manual errors of this kind speak most clearly to the lack of digitisation in some sectors, increasing risk unnecessarily.
Manufacturers willing to invest in management and control systems (available for both vacuum furnaces and autoclave ovens) and remote monitoring capabilities will improve the accuracy of operational data and increase transparency across their operations, which itself can help increase compliance and instil confidence in the calibration process.
Learn more about creating a culture of quality across your heat treatment operations.
5. Storage strategy of certificates differs across operations
Similarly, discrepancies in how calibration certificates are stored can lead to calibration results being hard to locate (or evidence, in the case of an external audit). Does the business store hard copies on site? If they’re scanned into the IT network, are they easy to locate? Transparency is a key element of compliance, but plants that have been slow to digitise their systems and processes can struggle to demonstrate this as they scale.
External calibration services keep your operations running
Our experienced team can be your impartial guide to decisions about risk and conformity, helping you to calibrate your equipment and comply with industry standards like AMS2750.
Our fully equipped UKAS laboratory caters for calibration of temperature instruments with temperature-controlled chambers, environmental chambers and temperature baths in which to perform UKAS accredited calibrations (UKAS Accredited Calibration Laboratory No.4338).
“VFE-administered calibration schedules take off the pressure to ensure you never miss a deadline and leave you to deal with more important production issues.”
The laboratory also supports electrical and pressure/vacuum calibrations. This specialist facility ensures our engineers and technicians are fully equipped with calibrated and traceable measurement standards at all times and enables us to calibrate our customers’ instrumentation.
For more information about the different kinds of equipment and instruments that we can calibrate, see here.
If you haven’t worked with us before, our calibration services provide results that you can rely on, giving you confidence in the quality of your operations — and your product.
For more information about process equipment calibration, click the image below and download our UKAS accredited calibration services sheet.