What is traceable calibration?

The calibration of test equipment is an important aspect of a company’s quality assurance. It is the method used to ensure test equipment is operating as designed and within acceptable limits.

A company’s calibration regimen forms a fundamental component of its quality management system, ensuring it complies with the relevant industry standards and best practices. ISO-9001 is one such standard and it promotes calibration as a crucial element to complying with quality standards.

Calibration service providers form an important link in the provision and confidence of quality standards for industry. Providing assurance that a company’s inventory of equipment operates within optimal boundaries with the relevant documentation and results preserved, for traceability, compliance, and auditing purposes.

Can a calibration itself be traceable?

Measuring instruments and test equipment in themselves are not, strictly speaking, traceable. Traceability is achieved by following correct procedures and recording the results (including deviations) of the calibration process.

“Calibration” can be defined as “the documented comparison of the measurement device to be calibrated against a traceable device” (i.e., a reference standard). Traceability is achieved through an unbroken chain of calibrations to National or International standards.

Therefore, the traceability aspect is the result of the unbroken chain of calibrations, leading back to the highest-level calibration which has been performed in a national calibration centre (or equivalent, referred to as national standards).

If a calibration is performed on an instrument and the reference device cannot be traced to a known standard, then the calibration is effectively worthless because you cannot be certain the reference device is accurate.

For calibration to be effective, it should be traceable to national and/or international standards. That said, the major difference between the different types of calibration (such as UKAS calibration) is found in the assessment by an independent governing body of the calibration processes used.

Traceable calibration can be performed by any calibration laboratory, however UKAS calibration can only be performed by accredited laboratories following strict assessment of procedures, assessment and agreement of measurement uncertainties and management systems. Calibration companies will be assessed for technical competence and for example, the only national accreditation body that can assess a laboratory to this standard is the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

How do UKAS and traceable calibrations differ?

In the UK the term ‘traceable’ calibration has been incorrectly used to differentiate UKAS with non-UKAS calibration. Best practice commands that all creditable calibration is traceable to national or international standards.

UKAS Calibration refers to calibration that is undertaken in a laboratory that has been independently audited and accredited to carry out the work.

There are other independent governing bodies which are industry specific that perform a similar role to UKAS.

UKAS Accredited calibrations are considered to be the “gold standard” and can only be undertaken using methods, personnel and equipment that have been regularly assessed for compliance.

Limits of basic traceable calibration

Although traceable (i.e., non UKAS) calibration is demonstrably appropriate, it isn’t considered the gold standard of calibration in the way the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS) certification is.

Calibration can only be carried out to UKAS (ISO/IEC 17025) standard if it is in a lab or testing facility that has been authorised by UKAS themselves. UKAS certification is so highly regarded as it is the only body recognised by the UK government for accrediting calibration labs.

Calibration to the standard you require with DM Systems & Test

When you choose DM Systems & Test Limited to calibrate your equipment, you’ll have the choice of both traceable (non UKAS) and UKAS calibration. We calibrate to a specification that suits your needs. For industries where tolerance is absolute paramount, for example aerospace and pharmaceutical, the extra level of assurance given by UKAS calibration or similar may be necessary. The same applies for businesses whose customers demand UKAS calibration for consistency along the entire supply chain.

DM aim to be an all-in-one source for your calibration needs, capable of processing a wide range of equipment at the same time, in a timely manner. Our mobile and laboratory calibration services cover a wide range of tooling and gauges, enabling DM to deliver calibration onsite. Onsite calibration is an optimum way to ensure the shortest amount of equipment downtime - with our mobile calibration often taking no more than a few hours.

DM are market-leaders in both electrical and mechanical calibration. Our objective is to:

  • Fully calibrate and return most equipment within 5 working days, with expedited turnaround also available
  • Collect your equipment and return it directly to you
  • Service your equipment using fully trained and highly experienced engineers
  • Provide a certificate of calibration containing measurement results confirming conformance to specification
  • Keep in close contact with you to ensure all your requirements are met

Find out more about how DM can take care of your calibration needs by contacting us today.

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