Calibration Basics

What is Calibration?

Calibration is the comparison of a measurement device (an unknown) against an equal or better standard. A standard in a measurement is considered the reference; it is the one in the comparison taken to be the more correct of the two. One calibrates to find out how far the unknown is from the standard.
What is Commercial Calibration?
A "typical" commercial calibration references a manufacturer's calibration procedure and is performed with a reference standard at least four times more accurate than the instrument under test.
Why Calibrate?
Out of tolerance (OOT) instruments may give false information leading to unreliable products, customer dissatisfaction and increased warranty costs. In addition, OOT conditions may cause good products to fail tests, which ultimately results in unnecessary rework costs and production delays.
How Often Should I Calibrate?
Calibration intervals are to be determined by the instrument “owner” based on manufacture recommendations. Commercial calibration laboratories can suggest intervals but in most cases they are not familiar with the details of the instrument’s application.
The OEM intervals are typically based on parameters like mean drift rates for the various components within the instrument. However, when determining calibration intervals as an instrument “owner” several other factors should be taken into consideration such as: the required accuracy vs. the instrument’s accuracy, the impact an OOT will have on the process, and the performance history of the particular instrument in your application.
How do I Implement or Improve a Calibration Program?
Any successful calibration program must begin with an accurate calibration schedule for your test, measurement and diagnostic equipment.
  • The schedule should contain a unique identifier which can be used to track the instrument, the location, and the instrument’s custodian (Often asset management software, bar-coding systems, and physical inventories are used to help establish accurate calibration schedules).
  • It is important when assembling a calibration schedule that modules, plug-ins, and small handheld tools are not overlooked. Also, you may have several “home-made” measuring devices (e.g. Test Fixtures) which will also need to be captured on your equipment list for a reliable calibration program.
  • The next step is to identify all of the instruments on your schedule that may not require calibration due to redundancies in your testing process (Tektronix can help you identify these instruments).
  • After creating an accurate calibration schedule, procedures must be established for adding new instruments, removing old or disposed instruments, or making changes in instrument custodianship. Reports should be run with sufficient time for both the end user and the service provider to have the unit calibrated with a minimal impact on production.
  • A late report identifying any units about to expire or already expired will ensure 100% conformity. A full service calibration laboratory will supply these recall reports and will provide special escalation reporting when equipment is not returned for service.
(More advanced calibration labs like Tektronix offer the choice of web-based software applications that allow their customer to perform recall reports, late reports and keep electronic versions of their calibration certificates. CalWeb®, Tektronix calibration program management system, is designed to keep your instruments in compliance, reduce the cost and time it takes to manage a calibration program, and allow for easy storage of certificates and invoices.)


Why Choose Tektronix for Multi-brand Services?

  • Calibration services for equipment from 9,000-plus manufacturers—far more than just Tektronix!
  • Extensive global service network—more than 100 points of service.
  • Superior quality—181 ISO/IEC 17025:2005 accreditation parameters.
  • 1,100-plus associates—highly skilled technicians and sales representatives.



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