Risks of Internal Calibration Laboratories

Risks of Internal Calibration Laboratories

Internal or in-house calibration laboratories are laboratories that are located within a company’s facility that perform calibrations on their own measuring equipment instead of sending their equipment to an external or third-party laboratory.

When a company makes the decision to calibrating their own equipment, they are introducing a variety of additional costs and risks that they need to be aware of and be willing to completely address to ensure that the highest measurement accuracy is achieved. For companies serving the medical, automotive or aviation industries, the importance of accurate measurements is vital.

 

Internal Calibration Costs

In many cases, the main motivation for businesses to establish internal calibration laboratories is to save the costs associated with sending their equipment to an outside calibration vendor. Other reasons include reducing turn-around times on calibrations or having better control over their measurement processes.

If a company has a large inventory of equipment that requires calibration, there could be advantages to developing an internal laboratory. However, most companies will end up spending more to properly set up the new laboratory that the total cost of outsourcing the service.

Three of the main areas that require large budgets when setting up an internal calibration laboratory are for the physical laboratory itself, laboratory equipment purchases, and employee compensation. By skimping on the costs that are required to properly set up a calibration laboratory in any of these three areas, the risks that the measurement results will suffer will be magnified and ultimately, the company’s business will suffer.

For accurate calibration measurements, especially for dimensional equipment, the laboratory requires adequate controls to maintain the temperature, humidity and other variables of the environment. A vacant corner office with windows is a poor choice for a calibration laboratory. If the business does not already have a suitable facility, properly building or outfitting the necessary laboratory may exceed the outsourcing costs significantly. Calibrating equipment without the necessary environmental conditions would add increased uncertainty to the measurement results.

Depending on the types and range of the calibrations that are needed, the purchase of the required equipment standards could easily run into the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. While there are varying degrees of costs and accuracies for calibration standards, cutting corners on the quality of the laboratory standards will have a wide-ranging effect on the measurement results within the laboratory.

Finding the proper individuals to perform the calibrations is a critical part of the process. Hiring competent calibration technicians with the proper qualifications and education would require the expense of a higher salary and other benefits. Transferring a current employee into that position, without the appropriate calibration knowledge, would require sufficient training in calibration and metrology fundamentals.

 

Laboratory Management System

A Laboratory Management System (LMS) will also need to be developed that outlines the activities within the calibration laboratory. This LMS will need to address items such as the creation of calibration procedures and other documentation, generating calibration certificates, internal audits, corrective actions and many other fundamental quality processes.

Depending on the business involved, many industries require calibration laboratories to be accredited to the ISO/IEC 17025 standard. ISO/IEC 17025 accredited calibration laboratories are required to perform various technical processes to ensure the validity of their results such as measurement uncertainty estimations, proficiency testing, SPC charting of calibration standards, and other quality measures. Many smaller companies do not have the technical knowledge or resources to meet all of these requirements. If these processes are not followed in an internal calibration laboratory, it could significantly affect the measurement outcome.

 

External Calibration Laboratory Benefits

Overall, ISO/IEC 17025 accredited calibration laboratories provide an excellent cost-effective solution for calibration services. The calibration standards they use are among the best in the industry and they have the operational procedures to meet the tough international standard requirements.

To reduce turnaround times for their clients, many laboratories provide next day calibration services and can also perform on-site calibrations to keep equipment downtimes to a minimum. Many laboratories will also pick up and deliver equipment to local businesses on a regular schedule.

has years of experience in performing high-quality calibrations for all types of industries. Our calibrations are performed in an ISO/IEC 17025 accredited calibration laboratory and we are trusted to provide exceptional measurement results to our customers. For more information on our calibration capabilities, contact e2b calibration.

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