Industry News: Equipment Calibration: Without It, Your Quality Control Suffers

METTLER TOLEDO experts weigh in on the importance of calibration and how to balance equipment maintenance with your productivity goals

08 May 2019

METTLER TOLEDO weighing specialists are frequently asked why calibration is important, what happens when it is skipped, and how often calibration should be performed.

Calibration is critical, because all measurement instruments have some degree of error (which is called measurement uncertainty). Issues such as mechanical wear-and-tear, environmental changes, and improper use can start to disrupt the accuracy of even the most sophisticated instrument. This makes regular calibration a necessity, especially in highly regulated industries. 

The primary risk of weighing with a balance or scale that has not been calibrated is inaccuracy. Poor-quality results can have far-reaching effects on product quality. And when issues at the weighing platform proliferate downstream, it can lead to unplanned downtime, rework, consumer complaints, regulatory letters/fines, or even costly recalls. These issues make forgoing calibration a high-risk strategy. 

When considering how often to calibrate, the risk inherent in a wrong measurement should be assessed. Will an incorrect result affect quality? Or can the inaccuracy be identified before it does? If the weighment is not high-risk, or if the measurement is of slightly higher risk but easy-to-detect, less-frequent calibration may be okay. 

However, if a wrong result will materially impact quality, consumer safety, or the environment, then more frequent calibration is required. This is particularly the case if the error would be difficult to detect before it has an opportunity to impact downstream processing.

Regulations such as ISO 9001, ISO 17025 and ANSI/NCSL Z540 provide guidance on calibration methods but not intervals. This makes conducting a thorough risk-assessment even more critical before establishing a calibration schedule. 

METTLER TOLEDO offers a variety of low or no-cost tools that can help you begin to make the kinds of risk calculations that help you set an optimal calibration frequency and minimize the impact on productivity. 

Want to know more? Download METTLER TOLEDO’s Laboratory Balance and Scale Q&A Guide here >>