Why Should We Regulate Calibration?

The calibration of sensitive environmental or industrial sensors is vitally important, but it is widely known that many companies and facilities fail to apply due care and consideration to instrument calibration. Many organizations also view sensor calibration as an avoidable expense - which is, in short, a misconception.

Why Should We Regulate Calibration?

Image Credit: OTT HydroMet

Should measurement equipment run out of calibration, however, this can lead to inaccurate measurements that can result in lost profits and reputational damage than can place a company at serious risk.

This article emphasizes the importance of calibrating sensors and other sensitive measuring instruments, as well as highlighting some of the potential risks of not calibrating a sensor.

Reasons to Calibrate Sensors

There is a wide range of sensors available on the market, with many of these sensors suitable for use just ‘out of the box’ for non-critical measuring applications.

Ensuring that a sensor delivers the best possible accuracy requires that this be calibrated once it is installed within the system it is destined to be used within. Once installed, sensors should also be calibrated regularly to ensure optimum performance.

There may be sensor configuration and performance variations, even if these are purchased from the same manufacturer year after year. Different production runs may produce slightly different readings, or sensors may be subjected to heat, cold, shock or humidity during assembly storage or shipment.

Sensor technologies may suffer from wear and tear throughout their working lives, causing the response of these sensors to naturally change over time. It is important to calibrate sensors to assure consistently accurate results.

Factors such as hysteresis and noise can impact a sensor’s performance and the accuracy of its results.

All sensors are subjected to a degree of random noise, and measuring instruments with a low signal-to-noise ratio can struggle to make repeatable measurements.

Sensors may also exhibit hysteresis, whereby they tend to read high with a decreasing signal and low with an increasing signal. This is a common issue in many pressure sensors.

Calibration of a Lufft weather sensor

Calibration of a Lufft weather sensor. Image Credit: OTT HydroMet

On-site calibration of a road weather info system

On-site calibration of a road weather info system. Image Credit: OTT HydroMet

Risks of Using a Sensor That is Not Routinely Calibrated

Using a sensor that is not sufficiently or routinely calibrated can place a company or facility at significant risk.

Using equipment that is not calibrated can result in wasted time, labor and materials. This eventually leads to reduced efficiency and poor product quality due to faulty measuring equipment – all factors which can adversely affect sales and lower profit margins.

If insufficient sensor calibration affects final product quality, there is a risk that the company’s reputation can become damaged, or the company’s brand can become synonymous with poor quality products.

Ensuring that measuring equipment is regularly calibrated is key to maintaining the production of high-quality products and, in turn, safeguarding a business’s reputation.

Poor quality products due to inaccurate measuring instruments can directly impact a company’s customer base, potentially causing even the most loyal customers to turn to competitors if a product fails to meet the requirements and expectations.

Poor quality products stemming from the use of uncalibrated measuring instruments can lead to severe complications and risks to customers’ health at risk.

This can lead to regulatory issues, legal notices and sanctions from local and national food safety departments, breaches of HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) regulations, or even a closure notice from the Environmental Health department or affiliated governmental institutions.

Ensuring Optimum Calibration

The best option for sensor and measuring instrument calibration is to bring in experts or accredited lab calibration services. This helps ensure that sensitive equipment such as sensors continues to deliver consistent and highly accurate results. Calibration software is also available to help streamline and automate this process.

Whatever approach is selected, instrument calibration should never be neglected.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by OTT HydroMet.

For more information on this source, please visit OTT HydroMet.

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