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Do I need to have test equipment calibrated?

Do I need to have test equipment calibrated. If so, how often and WHY?. These are questions as engineers we often ask ourselves.

Paul Broad, Managing director of Re-CAL Calibration Services Ltd explains.

I suppose the biggest question and the one most commonly asked of the three is Why? Quite often people who use instruments feel this is just a ploy to take money out of their pockets.  After all, legislation and regulations are already costing companies more money than ever before.

Blame and Claim

But we need to look at the bigger picture in today’s climate. More and more we hear horror stories of accidents and injuries sustained as a result of faulty wiring or equipment and with society today adopting some what of a blame and claim culture, the need for documentation to prove our own and our equipments performance is ever more important.

Approved contractors have a duty to ensure that the test equipment that they use to test to BS EN 61557 (17th Edition) and Part P is both accurate and consistent

Even though electronic equipment has become more reliable, components characteristics can change over time through age and use. These changes will quite often have an effect on the operational performance of the measuring circuits. After all the majority of our instruments are used in arduous environments and do not spend their lives wrapped in cotton wool. They are subjected to rough handling, accidental dropping  and in some case extremes of temperature.

Conformity v Calibration

Another area of confusion is the difference between a Certificate of conformity and a calibration certificate. The former is issued by the manufacturer, as a guarantee that the unit complies to its specification when it left the factory. These are not usually dated. The calibration certificate is a complete and accurate set of results taken from the instrument , which will detail its accuracy against known input values. These certificates would be signed and dated and show all results gathered.

Whilst it is true that some manufacturers supply a calibration certificate on ‘Day one’ the majority do not, even if you do purchase a unit that is supplied with a calibration certificate showing the date it was calibrated it could be several months before the purchase date.

Traceability is every thing, all certificates issued by Re-CAL are fully traceable to the NPL (National Physics laboratory) standards. A statement is made on all certificates issued showing this.

How often?

There is no simple answer to this as it depends entirely on the use and abuse that the instrument suffers in use. However to answer the question most manufacturers recommend a re-calibration period of 12 months. In addition to the formal calibration of the instruments they should also be checked on a regular basis to ensure that they remains within specification. This can be achieved in a number of ways: by cross-referencing to other instruments that the business may own or testing on a designated circuit in the office or home. There are also now a number of test instrument manufacturers producing calibration check boxes, which enable the contractor to check instrument accuracy in the office or in the field.

Depending on the size of company and the instruments deployed will dictate the particular method (s) adopted.  No matter which method is used it is vitally important that records are kept of the results. This enables the contractor to demonstrate to any inspectorate, that  have an effective control systems for test equipment.

Simply speaking, on going calibration on an annual basis ensures that the instrument maintains its accuracy, and provides confidence in the performance necessary for an accurate test. REMEMBER it’s your signature, which goes on the test and inspection sheet.

Many companies already value the benefits of having their instruments calibrated annually and have introduced this as part of their company policy.

Calibration Days

When test instruments are in constant use it can be disruptive to send them back to the manufacturer for re-calibration. Re-Cal now offers on-site calibration days usually  in conjunction with a local wholesaler. This offers the contractor a number of unique benefits. Instruments are normally calibrated the same day reducing down time. The cost of calibration is generally lower than instruments retuned to base. The contractor has the opportunity to discuss any issues with their existing equipment and to look at new instruments. The certificates issued by Re-Cal on these days emulate  those produced in our laboratory so you can be guaranteed that the correct specifications are used.

Re-Cal can calibrate anything from P.A.T. to 16th Edition testers, clamp-meters and multi-meters to temperature and sound level.

You don’t even need to worry about remembering when these instruments are due for Re-CAL. We provide a simple and comprehensive automated recall service, which will remind you before the event so your instruments never go out of date. Calibrations are turned around generally in 3 to 5 working days. We always go that extra mile to keep you up and running.

We’re fast, we’re efficient and we’re cost effective.
That’s why Our Service is Key to Yours!

Call us now on 0161 877 3621.

www.recal-calibration.co.uk

Paul Broad