UKAS or traceable calibration: which is right for you?

If you’ve ever needed to calibrate equipment on behalf of your company, you’ll have seen services offering two types of calibration: traceable calibration services and UKAS calibration services. Ensuring your equipment is calibrated to the correct standard is vital to guaranteeing its accuracy, safety and reliability, as well as meeting the requirements of existing and prospective customers in your industry.

Knowing the exact standard of calibration your equipment requires may not be such a straightforward question, however. If you’re not sure what the difference between traceable and UKAS calibrations are, or which one is right for your business’ requirements, read on to learn more.

How do UKAS and traceable calibration differ?

Firstly, it’s important to establish the practical differences between UKAS and traceable calibration. Traceable calibration refers simply to calibration which is carried out by accurate equipment and produces documentation that shows a chain of values to prove its authenticity. However, traceable calibration does not inherently work against a pre-agreed or widely recognised standard. Items of equipment undergoing traceable calibration are measured purely against the tool calibrating them; the tool itself is not held to any particular standard.

Conversely, UKAS calibration is considered a superior service because it compares against a prescribed standard. To obtain UKAS-accredited calibration for a piece of equipment, the calibration equipment must itself have met UKAS standards - as must the laboratory the calibration takes place in. UKAS guidelines are clear, detailed and internationally recognised, making UKAS calibration the highest quality available and also the hardest standard for a calibration service to achieve.

UKAS regularly audit calibration equipment and labs to ISO/IEC 17025 standard, meaning UKAS-accredited calibration services are constantly perfecting their own processes - which is what makes them the gold standard.

Which type of calibration do I need?

The right type of calibration will differ from company to company and sector to sector. The question companies have to ask is whether their business needs require them to go the extra mile for UKAS calibration. This will generally come down to how vital hyper-accurate readings are considered in any given industry - both in terms of adhering to legislation and how important it is for trading purposes. For instance, industries like pharmaceuticals - where tight manufacturing tolerances are critical - will always require UKAS calibration.

When things are a little less clear, there are a few rules of thumb to follow that can help you determine the way to go:

  • Decide whether your equipment’s application is critical or non-critical. An application is critical if its success is absolutely crucial to the core of the business. For example, industries that require the most accurate measurements possible for safety reasons, or to be able to produce high-performance products, will likely need to choose UKAS calibration.
  • Research your industry’s exact requirements. Beyond fulfilling the core requirements of a business, UKAS calibration may be needed to adhere to specific industry regulations. In many cases, you may only be licensed to sell a certain product if you can guarantee UKAS-standard calibration. In this instance, your business will need to have the correct processes in place to establish the equipment that is or isn’t bound by this legislation.For example, the aerospace, medical and automotive industries will typically opt for UKAS accredited calibration services.
  • Determine any supply chain considerations. In many industries, customers are likely to require visibility over your supply chains if they’re to agree to trading with your company. This will largely concern the quality of materials - something that can often only be proved by a high standard of calibration.

In other cases, where your equipment’s applications are non-critical, where industry bodies do not require the gold standard of calibration or where your customers will not demand an internationally recognised chain, traceable calibration may be the best option. Traceable calibration will still produce vital documentation to prove your organisation’s compliance.

To make the right choice for your company, help from a trustworthy and high-quality calibration service provider is invaluable.

DM will help you choose the optimum calibration

At DM Systems & Test, we provide traceable and UKAS calibration for both mechanical and electrical equipment. We’ll work closely with you to help decide which standard is best; our long history of providing calibration services and advice means you can trust our team to make the right call and deliver to the highest level of quality.

We’re an all-in-one source for your calibration needs, capable of processing all your equipment at the same time, in one location and at speed. Our mobile and laboratory calibration services cover all major tooling and gauges, enabling us to deliver calibration onsite. It’s the best way to ensure the shortest amount of equipment downtime - with our mobile calibration often taking no more than a few hours.

To learn more about how we can serve your business with UKAS or traceable calibration that works around you, get in touch with our team. We even offer a managed calibration service that removes the burden on you to calibrate your equipment.

ISO-9001 standard calibration: The DM guide Download  

Book your calibration now

Our experts are on-hand to handle all of your calibration needs.