Metrology calibrations within the automotive industry: 3 key things to consider


The automotive industry is one of the world’s largest manufacturing sectors, with some 70 million motor vehicles produced worldwide annually. Today vehicles are becoming more complex, with more technology and electric parts involved than ever before. From the era of horseless carriages, we now live in a world where a prototype convertible ‘flying car’ just completed its first test flight. Where there’s a will, there’s a runway.

But before getting the ‘green light’ to appear on the market, motor vehicles, and their components, have to comply with a certain number of regulations, whether local or international.

The importance of calibration within the automotive industry

Quality control is an essential part of manufacturing because it ensures that all products conform to the same standard. It means manufacturers are less likely to face costly recalls and put customers at risk from poorly made products.

For the manufacturing industry, which relies on high end manufacturing and precision, it is an especially vital aspect. But automotive quality control also relies on having accurate tools for the job.

Enter: calibrations.

Calibrations ensure the metrology equipment used to provide measurements within the automotive (or any other) industry, is accurate and provides reliable results.

Choosing the right calibration provider is essential, but not always easy. Luckily, we’ve taken care to ensure you don’t encounter any speed bumps on the way…

Here are the 3 key things automotive manufacturers need to remember when it comes to their metrology equipment calibrations:

  1. The road to least resistance is… getting it right

From torque wrenches to tyre pressure gauges, and micrometres to vernier calipers, dial test indicators and pressure gauges, the various types of measurement equipment used in automotive manufacturing all have one thing in common – they need to be accurate.

Every fastener within a vehicle, for example, has a torque specification assigned by the manufacturer. Too much torque can cause severely over-tightened fasteners, leading to stripping and broken parts. Too little torque can result in pieces separating or becoming loose. A calibrated torque wrench ensures the correct amount of torque is applied, which is vital to ensure overall vehicle safety.

Similarly, with vernier calipers used to measure small parts, calibration is crucial as even the slightest deviation can have an impact further down the production line. Calibration determines any measurement deviations in the instruments and allows any necessary adjustments to be carried out. When it comes to accuracy, it ensures you get it right.

2. Routine calibration is your best path to success

Most of us make sure to check our car tyre pressure regularly (or at least know that we should…) to ensure the safety of our vehicles (car tyres will generally lose up to two pounds of air per month!). In the same way, when using measuring instruments regularly, they also need to be calibrated regularly. This ensures they continue to meet industry-wide standards during the manufacturing process.

The accuracy of measuring instruments will degrade over time from frequent usage and general wear and tear. How often you need to calibrate your metrology equipment depends on the type, how often it’s used and the operating environment.

Standard practice is to calibrate torque wrenches every 5,000 cycles or every 12 months. Similarly, it’s important to calibrate your calipers and gauges at least annually. Having consistent high-accuracy measurements means you can ensure high-quality output, saving you on costs in the long run.

3. Map out your requirements… to ensure you arrive at the right destination

We all know that choosing the right car is an important decision, which is why car buyers take an average of 40.5 days to find the right one! Similarly, with so much information available, it’s important to make sure you understand exactly which standard and type of calibration is right for you.

When it comes to industries such as automotive and aerospace, traceability is very important. In fact, most formal ISO quality management standards will demand traceable calibration certificates. For these industries, where safety is absolutely critical, UKAS accredited calibrations can provide an added level of trust. This is because an accredited calibration laboratory has to be independently audited, therefore can give you the best indication of the quality of a supplier’s calibration services.

Mapping out your requirements is key to finding the best-equipped lab for your calibration needs. Alongside costs and turnaround time, many manufacturers will also need to consider the benefits of having a single supplier looking after all their calibration requirements. While for some, finding an ISO 17025 accredited calibration laboratory that offers onsite calibration services can be a huge convenience.

Finding yourself at a crossroads?…

Calibration Select provides a comprehensive metrology equipment calibration service for the automotive industry. Our team can provide expert calibrations on-site as well as at our calibration lab, which is accredited by UKAS to ISO/IEC 17025:2017.

To learn more about our calibration services for the automotive industry, click here to get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!

Each instrument should have a unique calibration record which must be maintained for a certain period of time. How often equipment needs to be calibrated will depend on the type of equipment, how often it’s used and its unique conditions, for example, being exposed to high, or low, temperatures.