Why a Low Cost Calibration Approach Can be Expensive
April 13, 2022
In the world of manufacturing and the scientific analysis of measurement (metrology), accuracy and precision are critical to success.
These pursuits involve a wide array of specialized components and highly sensitive instruments that, in order to remain reliable, must be calibrated on a regular basis. This need arises because situational factors such as extreme temperatures, pressure, moisture, electrical surges, wear and tear, radiation or otherwise harsh conditions can alter the baseline values of any given piece of equipment, resulting in the deterioration of product quality, user experience and company image — among other losses.
When seeking out calibration services, some company owners, operators or managers may be motivated toward a “low cost calibration” option. While this strategy may look good on paper for the immediate bottom line, there are hidden risks which can have expensive, long-term consequences.
Low Cost Calibration Culprits
A piece of equipment could receive a certificate from a “low-cost calibration” provider without having met all the technical specifications from the manufacturer’s standards. This occurs when a laboratory or testing facility offers economical rates, which are determined by the time = money formula. These services cost less because they take less of a technician’s time.
For example, most manufacturers cite a one-hour “warm up” period for any piece of equipment before it is tested and calibrated. A company offering competitive calibration rates can cut corners by skipping the recommended warm-up time and waiting perhaps only 10 minutes or so before proceeding.
Also, calibration services which employ procedural shortcuts can have severe oversight of the overall performance of any given instrument.
For example, a multimeter will have lots of separate parameters/test points which need to be measured against the manufacturer standards in order to verify proper operation. This would be achieved by obtaining the multimeter’s service manual from the manufacturer and meticulously adhering to the specs therein. A questionable laboratory, however, might instead opt to only test certain parameters and not adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended procedure. This would result in a partially-calibrated piece of equipment that, regardless of oversight, has received a certificate of calibration.
Further, a low-cost service, in the interest of efficiency, may find a measurement which needs to be adjusted on one parameter. Once this is done, all other point values are affected and must be re-calibrated as well. If this step is skipped and the instrument, although calibrated, is still going to perform inaccurately.
The Domino Effect
In a low-cost calibration services scenario, incongruencies are still present in the equipment’s performance, even though it is set to be put back into service. This can have a snowball effect, as the accumulation of small errors can have large, far-reaching consequences. Lack of accuracy and precision has been repeatedly shown to result in defective products and failed systems.
In some instances, these circumstances can lead to accidents, injury, loss of life and in the previous three instances — costly litigation. Such outcomes can have a detrimental effect on company image and net worth which can require incredible amounts of money, time and manpower to repair. In hindsight, the cost of “competitive” calibrations versus those of a thorough, reputable company is a miniscule comparison at best.
Analysis of cost-cutting approaches have also revealed that mis-calibrating instruments and components can void their warranties. This can expose a company to financial losses should the equipment need to be replaced.
The PowerLabs Advantage
Constellation PowerLabs champions the importance of thorough, meticulous, quality calibration services which fully optimize the potential of any instrument or piece of equipment. In turn, this level of performance enhances productivity, product quality, user satisfaction, public profile and company net worth.
The calibration provided by PowerLabs are backed by the laboratory’s ISO 17025, A2LA (American Association of Laboratory Accreditation) status and nuclear’s10 CFR 50 Appendix B requirements. This assures clients of an inherent climate of quality and integrity, wherein their requirements will be fully met and most likely exceeded. Plus, Constellation PowerLabs calibrates equipment based on manufacturer standards, all of which are National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) traceable. Further, services can be rendered on site or in remote locations, depending on the applications that are needed to support the calibration.
Among the variety of calibration disciplines our labs offer, a numerous amount of the procedures follow the strict guidelines established by the International Organization of Standards (ISO 17025), while always following Appendix B calibrations guidelines. These affiliations demonstrate this laboratory’s ability to operate at high levels of proficiency, rendering valid results and promoting confidence in the quality of their work.
Lastly, Constellation PowerLabs works within the most highly regulated industries such as pharmaceuticals, nuclear energy, aerospace and many more. World class standards for calibration services of the highest procedural integrity are an integral part of core company values.