Importance of Laboratory Instruments Calibration

Lab equipment is the most valuable asset in a lab.  This is why keeping the equipment in top-notch conditions is critical to maintaining lab and data integrity.  Understanding calibration, how it works, and why it is so critical will help you run a more precise and accurate lab.

What is Calibration?

Calibration is the act of testing and adjusting the precision and accuracy of an instrument. Research labs use it to ensure correct data. Calibration compares a standard measurement to the measurement taken by your instrument.  While the accuracy of your instrument may not be the same as the standard, there is an acceptable accuracy ratio.  Your instrument will need to measure up to the requirements.

Calibration of your measuring instruments has two objectives. It checks the accuracy of the instrument and it determines the traceability of the measurement. In practice, calibration also includes repair of the device if it is out of calibration. A report is provided by the calibration expert, which shows the error in measurements with the measuring device before and after the calibration.

Significant Reasons

There are several substantial reasons why instrument calibration is important.

  • Safety: In many labs, there are dangerous materials processing. Having inaccurate data can put the staff in danger.  Calibration provides accuracy and in turn, keeps everyone safe.
  • Cost-Effective: When inaccuracies occur, it will stop production whether you’re a manufacturer or a life science lab. The longer it takes for the inaccuracies to be noticed the more costly the mistakes will be.  Routine maintenance is cost-effective in the long term.
  • Instruments Last Longer: Instruments degrade whether it is from using daily or the environment in which you use them. Calibrating routinely and keeping it up to standards helps the length of usage.
  • Certification: Certification is a prerequisite for a variety of tasks. Up-to-date calibrations on instruments is a requirement.

Why is Calibration Important?

Calibration defines the accuracy and quality of measurements recorded using a piece of equipment. Over time there is a tendency for results and accuracy to ‘drift’ particularly when using technologies or measuring parameters such as temperature and humidity. To be confident in the results being measured there is an ongoing need to maintain the calibration of equipment throughout its lifetime for reliable, accurate and repeatable measurements. The goal of calibration is to minimize any measurement uncertainty by ensuring the accuracy of test equipment. Calibration quantifies and controls errors or uncertainties within measurement processes to an acceptable level.

You need instrumentation calibration in order to reduce the bias in an instrument’s readings.  Precision and accuracy are both required when collecting data.  Precision focuses on the degree to which repeated measurements without change to the conditions will show the same result.  Accuracy is the degree of closeness of measurement of a quantity to its actual value.

Maintaining Data Integrity

It is expected that labs should maintain high standards whether pharmaceutical or life sciences.  Maintaining data integrity helps assure that the research done in the lab is constructed to these high standards.  Keeping your lab equipment calibrated helps maintain traceability and data integrity.  Not having the calibrations up to date can lead to inaccurate data.  In some cases, it can lead to failing audits.

Failing to calibrate equipment on time and having documentation is one of the biggest reasons to fail an audit.

Maintenance of Instruments

All of the instruments in your lab require different maintenance and calibration standards.  How often depends on how much you use it and how quickly it degrades.  Manufacturers have recommendations and certifications have set requirements.  Some of them will need monthly while others are yearly.

They may do some in the lab while others require off-site calibration.  You will need to get your instruments calibrated by experts.  An ISO 17025 Abdul Hakeem OWOLABaccredited calibration lab will meet such requirements.

Signs that your Equipment Needs Calibration

These key indicators will warn you that it is time to get your instruments looked at by a 17025 calibration services expert.

  • Prior to Critical Testing: If you are testing for highly accurate data. It will be worthwhile to have the instrument calibrated prior to by a reputable company (like Applied Analytical Systems LTD (AASL) before you begin your work.
  • Data is Questionable: When the data reads and it seems to be questionable.
  • After an Incident: If the instrument falls to the ground, or an accident occurs to it, it may inhibit it from giving accurate and precise results.

17025 Calibration Standard

When you have your equipment calibrated, it is necessary that you trust the process.  The accreditation gives the lab the confidence that is done correctly and meets the standards required.

ISO 17025 Calibration Standard is the international quality standard to which they accredit laboratories.

Certificates 

The company that handles your equipment’s calibration will provide a certificate.  The certificate will list the calibration standards used for the calibration.  It will also provide the data pass or fail statements for each measurement result and the date.  There will also be a report that will list the errors found and the reduction in errors after calibration.

ISO 17025 Accredited Calibration Services

Equipment calibration is critical to a lab to maintain in order to get the most accurate and precise data.  By having your instrumentation maintained with ISO 17025 accredited calibration, you are ensuring that your lab will have the best reputation. 

Abdul Hakeem OWOLAB
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