In a laboratory, every instrument must work correctly and offer accurate results. When an instrument does not perform optimally and is out of range, it is a serious issue because it can affect the results drastically. Often it is called that equipment is out-of-tolerance. But what is meant by out-of-tolerance, a tolerance limit, and how to handle an out-of-tolerance instrument?
This guide will help you when you face an out-of-tolerance instrument during instrument calibration in San Diego.
What Does Tolerance Mean in an Instrument Calibration?
Let’s understand tolerance by an example. Suppose you place a 100-gram weight on a weighing scale. You know the weight is 100 grams, but the scale reads 96 grams. Now, you would wonder why the scale displays 96 grams when it weighs 100 grams. It is a deviation from its acceptable value or range.
But do you think it is acceptable? Unfortunately, no. There are tolerance levels and ranges defined in NIST handbook 44. For example, a tolerance level for a weighing scale weighing 100 grams is 2%. So, the tolerance range is 98-102 grams for a 100-gram weight.
During the instrument calibration in San Diego, accepted tolerance levels are used. There are permissible tolerance levels for various instruments as per their different specifications.
How To Know if an Instrument is Out-of-Tolerance?
Whether an instrument is out-of-tolerance, it is caught during the instrument calibration. Instrument calibration is the process of testing instruments against the acceptable standard ranges for an instrument where different ranges of the instrument are tested.
During calibration, if an instrument fails to meet the tolerance levels, you must try to understand how sure you are.
The first question is which calibrators were used and what is the level of certainty that the instrument failed. If the certainty of an instrument failure is very less, it might be feasible to calibrate the instrument again and derive fresh results.
The calibration laboratory you have hired for instrument calibration in San Diego plays an important role here. Because their reputation determines the certainty of calibration failure, only an expert can calibrate instruments correctly and declare failure with certainty. Thus, it is advised to hire only an expert calibration laboratory.
What To Do if an Instrument is Found Out-of-Intolerance?
You need not panic if an instrument is found out of tolerance. Follow the steps below:
The first step is to ascertain whether the instrument failure is way out of the tolerance level or if it is within an accepted range.
Second, when the instrument was last calibrated and whether the instrument showed any sign that it was not performing optimally. It is important to keep calibration records handy.
Third, how will the instrument results affect your products or tests? For example, if you are in a laboratory and your test results require extreme accuracy, you must calibrate the instruments and bring them within tolerance levels.
The instrument price and utility also define how frequently it should be calibrated and what are the probable next steps.
Also, read the tolerance failure report in detail to figure out what caused the failure. For example, was the instrument damaged, or any incident happened that caused such intolerance failure?
The instrument might need to be quarantined, tested, re-checked, or repaired based on the answers. If the broken instrument was used in a process, it is advised to reperform the processes and acquire fresh results.
Why is It Important to Hire an Expert for Instrument Calibration?
Instrument calibration is a critical process. However, only the experts must be allowed to calibrate instruments because several factors are considered. For example, when you buy laboratory instruments, you receive an instruction manual. But suppose you bought several transmitters from the manufacturer and installed them in various places. Now, the tolerance levels of these transmitters will differ, and experts will perform their job accordingly, considering all the underlying factors.
Also, the certainty of calibration failure is acceptable only when you are assured that they are reliable.
You must be patient with out-of-tolerance instruments. You must segregate, quarantine, retest, recheck, repair, and rework the product as needed. But to ensure that your instruments are properly calibrated, and reliable results are obtained, hire a professional and accredited calibration laboratory for instrument calibration in San Diego.