Earlier businesses were heavily reliant on manual processes that were time-consuming and highly prone to errors. Once economies started embracing globalization and more businesses started entering different industries, the competition started heating up.
When the competition came knocking at their door, agile organizations were quick to realize that they can no longer rely on inefficient manual processes.
To beat the cut-throat competition, many businesses started replacing manual processes with automated processes. And it all made sense. After all, machines don’t get tired, don’t ask for a raise, and can work more than humans.
Today, every business, irrespective of its size, uses machines and automated tools. While warehouses use inventory management systems to efficiently track inventory, manufacturing plants use advanced machinery and complex equipment to manufacture products in bulk.
Opting for machinery that meets strict standards and compulsory regulatory compliance alone is not enough. To get the most out of the equipment, you need to calibrate it.
In this article...
Calibration: An introduction
Calibration involves checking the accuracy of smart equipment by comparing it with a standard. This standard can be a traceable reference device of known accuracy. The result of the comparison can be:
- The device under test is error-free
- The device has a significant error that is notable, but no adjustments are made
- Adjustment is made to correct the error
In a nutshell, calibrating equipment helps ensure their accuracy and fitness for use. Calibration should be considered an ongoing process, not a one-time exercise. To ensure that your smart equipment remains fit for use for a long time, you need to calibrate them regularly.
So, how often should you calibrate your equipment? Well, that depends on several factors, such as the degree of wear and tear that the instrument experiences in service, the importance of measurements that you plan to make to your product/service, and the equipment’s stability.
When deciding the calibration frequency of equipment, you must check your calibration records to find out whether calibration adjustments have been previously required. The rule of thumb says that you should calibrate your equipment every year. For devices that need frequent adjustments, increase the calibration frequency to six or nine months. If a series of annual calibrations show that adjustments are no longer needed, reduce the periodicity to two years.
Calibration management process: The steps involved
These are the steps that constitute a typical calibration management process:
Identifying the types of equipment that need to be calibrated
First and foremost, the equipment owned by the business are classified into two categories- critical and non-critical. The calibration range and accepted tolerance of these devices are identified. The calibration level for each device is determined. Finally, an equipment manager determines the calibration status for all equipment owned by the business.
Next, the equipment manager must create a team responsible for calibrating equipment. The manager must train the members of the team to carry out scheduled tasks and educate them on the motive of the exercise.
Deciding calibration periods
A calibration exercise can be conducted before and after a critical project, after the device sustained damage due to an accident, or after the expiration of a predetermined amount of time
Executing the calibration plan
After the calibration period is decided, the calibration team must execute the plan. When performing their tasks, every team member must follow the guidelines provided by the equipment manager. They must also follow safety instructions.
Documenting the result
Once the exercise is successfully executed, the team must document the result. The team must also identify the process and calibrations that must be documented regularly.
Analyzing the results
The equipment manager must go through the results to determine whether they need to take any corrective actions.
Why use a calibration management system
As businesses expand, they acquire equipment to meet their growing needs. Manually updating calibration records of multiple equipment is not a child’s play. Equipment managers of businesses that rely on manual documentation processes spends a substantial amount of time and effort to maintain calibration records. The end result is that they are left with little time for more critical tasks.
A calibration management software can help address this problem. These software are designed to automatically schedule the calibration requirements of equipment. Equipped with advanced features, a CMS is capable of communicating with field instrumentation and studying the scheduling history to ensure that calibrations, adjustments, and replacements are done in a timely fashion.
Some features of CMS
Before finalizing a CMS for your business, make sure that it can:
- Generate reports
- Support audit trails and track changes in your database
- Determine calibration specifications and requirements
- Automate the process of scheduling future calibration due dates
- Document results of calibration exercises
- Maintain and retrieve calibration history records and master equipment records
- Determine and develop corrective procedures
- Backup and store data
Advantages of a CMS
There are more benefits of using an effective CMS than you could imagine. These advantages range from cost savings to increased overall efficiency. Here are some substantial benefits of using a CMS:
Help with regulatory compliance
Regulatory bodies such as ISO and FDA have very stringent data compliance requirements. A CMS is equipped with a range of features to help the business comply with these standards. An advanced CMS can provide a complete audit trail, helping the top management prove their claims. A CMS is designed to help teams track compliance with calibration timelines, as specified by regulating bodies.
Like every automated tool, a CMS can help save a significant amount of resources. CMS automates documentation procedures, helping your staff save time. A CMS is also capable of avoiding costly manual errors and can accurately analyze data, helping your managers make informed decisions.
Extended equipment longevity
Equipment managers have too much on their plate. They juggle multiple tasks and can forget the scheduled calibration date of an equipment. A major drawback of using manual documentation processes is that they do not provide any updates regarding scheduled calibrations.
A CMS, on the other hand, has a feature that allows users to set up automatic alerts for scheduled calibrations. The feature helps ensure that equipment managers do not miss scheduled calibration events. Calibrating equipment in a timely manner helps extend their service life.