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.

Did you know that, until 1858, the Apothecaries’ system was the official system of measurement used to weigh out ingredients in medicines (and potions) in the US and Great Britain? Back then – when cocaine toothache drops were prescribed as “patent medicines” and leech therapy was all the rage – apothecaries were using hand scales to prepare and dispense their own medicines.

Prior to the 20th century, medicines were generally produced by small scale manufacturers and there was little regulatory control over manufacturing, or their promise of safety and efficacy.

Today, research and testing labs, manufacturers and other pharma companies are all subject to strict laws and regulations, meaning significant attention has to be paid to safety and compliance. Gone are the days of prescribing mercury, chloroform, and medicinal leeches. Technological advancement has also brought with it many benefits, including highly sophisticated and extremely sensitive measuring equipment.

Calibrating these instruments properly and regularly is a crucial aspect of ensuring that finished pharmaceutical products meet the right quality standards.

How is instrument calibration performed?

Instrument calibration is the process of comparing results from a measurement device against a traceable standard, i.e., one that has been calibrated to an even higher level standard. Any discrepancies found can then be adjusted within the specified limits, ensuring the equipment being used is producing safe and accurate results. For pharma companies, it is an important part of justifying the processes of Qualification and Validation – part of the 3 principles to achieving high quality.

Instrument calibration can be performed in-house or by sending equipment to a calibration laboratory. While calibrating in-house can mean reduced downtime, enlisting the services of a nationally or internationally accredited calibration laboratory, who offer proven accuracy standards, appropriate equipment and the right controlled environments, can give you extra confidence in the traceability of your device.

The role of metrology equipment in pharmaceutical production

There are many types of metrology equipment used in pharmaceutical production, each instrument that comes into contact with the pharmaceutical supply chain needs to meet stringent quality standards, as the measurements taken from these instruments have a direct effect on the quality of the end product.

Flow – Flow meters are used to measure the flow of various liquids and gases. However, even high precision flow meters can easily deter from calibration, and the performance of these instruments will reduce over time. Routine calibration ensures these results are consistently accurate.

Temperature – Similarly, even slight variations in temperature can affect product quality. Thermometers, thermocouples and other temperature monitoring equipment are sensitive and prone to damage during use, meaning they have to be checked and calibrated regularly. The calibration of temperature sensors is also critical to ensure that labs stay within optimal temperatures for the safe production of pharmaceutical products.  

Pipettes – Pipettes are crucial in measuring and transferring the accurate amount of fluid into a product. However, the smallest variation to a recipe could have harmful consequences for consumers. Some volatile liquids and chemicals can also corrode the pipette, throwing off calibration, while air temperature and humidity in a lab can affect its accuracy. With regular pipette calibration, you can significantly reduce these risks and liabilities.

Pressure – A variety of pressure measuring and monitoring devices are used within pharma production, for example, to ensure the pressure within cleanrooms stay at optimal levels. Calibration ensures that they comply with industry and regulatory standards regarding precision, sanitation, and safety – ensuring better conditions for researching, developing, and producing medicines.

How often does equipment have to be calibrated?

Pharmaceutical producers need to implement a routine instrument calibration schedule to ensure compliance with FDA guidelines or to maintain CGMP and other quality control standards.

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.

Most pipettes, for instance, can be calibrated every six months, but based on the strict regulations of the pharmaceutical industry, the CSLI recommends that your pipettes be calibrated every 3 – 6 months. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for minimum calibration intervals. You can also consult an accredited lab for help with devising an appropriate calibration schedule.

Why use an accredited lab?

The aim of calibration is to establish the accuracy of the equipment used within production – preventing costly recalls, damage to reputation and safety risks to consumers. At the same time, pharmaceutical companies and laboratories need to have confidence in the performance and results of the instruments used to calibrate their measuring equipment.

This is where accredited calibration labs add value. These labs ensure that the equipment used by pharmaceutical companies is calibrated as per the required standards and can produce products that match the pharmaceutical quality as set by the MHRA or FDA.

Labs without accreditation can also provide good service and traceability; however, companies will need to verify these on their own. An accredited lab can demonstrate compliance with ISO 17025, which they can only receive if they meet all the requirements for quality and traceability.

Accredited labs can also provide the appropriate calibration certifications for each instrument. This is a critical part of pharmaceutical regulations – it means companies can avoid problems during regulatory inspections, alongside fines, penalties and even product recalls.

Calibration Select is accredited by UKAS to ISO 17025:2017. We offer pharmaceutical equipment calibrations on-site and at our state-of-the-art labs. For more information about our calibration services for pharmaceutical companies, please get in touch here. We’d love to hear from you!

It is a well-known fact that even Columbus had conversion problems. He miscalculated the circumference of the earth using Roman miles instead of nautical miles, and unexpectedly ended up in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492, instead of Asia. Our point here is that measurements are important. Which is why, when it comes to choosing the right supplier for your metrology calibrations, no half measures can be taken.

But with many calibration providers across the UK all seemingly promising a similar service, we’ve broken down all the important information you should look for – and what you should steer clear of – when it comes to choosing a calibration partner.

First stop: gauging how satisfied you are with your current calibration supplier

The task of arranging metrology equipment calibrations might be a small part of the role of quality and production teams; however, if a supplier doesn’t quite live up to expectations, the only place you will be setting sail to is back to the drawing board…

Accurate and timely calibration plays a crucial role in product quality and regulatory compliance – and ultimately your company’s success and reputation. For this, finding the right calibration partner is extremely important. So, whether you’re happy with your current calibration provider or you know there is room for improvement, these are the important factors that you need to consider:

  • Turnaround times – Consider firstly how long you can afford to have your equipment out of process for calibration. You will find that most calibration suppliers will offer a ‘guaranteed’ turnaround time of less than 7 days, but make sure you also read the small print. Establish and agree clear delivery expectations with the supplier (make sure you also factor in travel time, which can often add two additional days!).
  • Accreditations and certificates – These are important indications of quality. Check that your supplier has the correct accreditations to provide the level of calibration you need. You should also find out how and when calibration certificates are supplied after calibrations are complete.
  • Flexibility – Every business is different – and no two businesses will have the same calibration schedule. Can your current provider work around your schedule? Can they provide a flexible service suitable to your needs, e.g., plan on-site calibrations around your shut down periods? Put convenience high on your priority list.
  • Supplier capability – This is where a calibration partner can really add value. Outsourcing your calibration needs to a metrology focussed calibration provider that uses high-precision processes and state-of-the-art equipment can ensure the optimum accuracy of your metrology equipment. They can also provide fully traceable calibration certificates backed by internationally recognised quality management processes, including ISO17025.
  • Communication – How will your supplier keep you updated on the status of your equipment? Some suppliers will use an asset management system, which provides full transparency from when your equipment arrives at the lab, to when it’s ready to return to your site. Find out how they will communicate this important information – and how easy is it to speak to someone in case any problems arise.
  • Location – Even if your business isn’t located in a remote area, it’s worthwhile finding out where your nearest calibration engineer is. Some calibration suppliers have small teams, meaning resource is often maxed out and you could be kept waiting for longer periods for the calibrations you need.

Calibration Select – Metrology calibrations that work for you

Partnering with an accredited service provider can provide greater confidence when it comes to ensuring the accuracy of your metrology calibrations. Calibration Select from Avery Weigh-Tronix has been developed with our customers to provide a unique metrology calibration service.

Why partner with us?

  • 5-day turnaround time – We’re the UK’s only calibration supplier to offer a true 5-day service, door to door.
  • Range of testing capability – We specialise in calibrating a range of electrical, force, pressure, temperature and torque equipment and mass weights, both onsite and at our state-of-the-art calibration lab.
  • Flexibility – Our expert engineers are available to carry out on-site calibrations 7 days a week. With our network of over 150 multiskilled engineers located across the UK, you won’t be kept waiting for on-site calibrations.
  • Keeping you compliant – Our automated reminders make sure you’ll never miss a calibration again. We’ll supply a digital calibration certificate 4-hours after your calibration takes place.
  • Fully accredited – We can perform calibrations traceable to both national standard and UKAS accredited.

To learn more about how we can work with you to manage and simplify your unique metrology calibration needs, reach out to a member of our team – we’d love to hear from you!

It’s safe to say, as humans we have always been fascinated by the intricacies of flight.

In 1678, a French locksmith named Besnier tried to fly with wings modelled after the webbed feet of a duck. Luckily, he survived the attempt. And 300 years before that, kites were seen carrying humans in China. Luckily, we have come a long way since then…

During the last century the aerospace industry celebrated a number of milestones. From the Wright brothers achieving the first successful airplane flight in 1903, to the Vostok capsule carrying the first person into space.

But not one to rest on its laurels the industry is constantly developing new technologies, and today the prospect of potentially moving to Mars isn’t too alien a concept(!), while the emergence of new advanced materials like graphene and carbon nanotubes are helping to make airplane wings more efficient by reducing weight and fuel consumption.

Weight is hugely important when it comes to designing air and spacecraft. Lighter machines can travel faster on less fuel, and even the slightest changes can make a huge difference. Weight and balance also have a significant impact on the ability to operate aircrafts safely.

So, fasten your seatbelts as we journey into why this makes the calibration of measuring equipment highly critical…

First stop: Quality and safety

The aerospace industry is subject to strictly tight quality controls for safety, meaning high quality production is needed at every stage.

Equipment or component failures on an aircraft can cost from tens of thousands to millions of pounds, while failures in flight present another enormous risk in the loss of lives.

To guarantee the structural safety of an aircraft, every element needs to be manufactured to the highest quality. This is particularly important as the industry relies on hundreds of tiny parts to build their products using high precision processes.

Dimensional measurement plays a crucial role in ensuring that these parts, including aircraft frames and stringers, meet exacting quality standards.

Without proper, regular and well-documented instrument calibration, there is simply no way to ensure safety, quality and performance – all of which are critical to the aerospace industry.

Accuracy and precision

High value satellites are launched with the requirement that they can operate for a number of decades without maintenance or repair. This makes it incredibly important to get it right the first time. But this can only be delivered through rigorous testing and validation carried out on every single component, ensuring it can survive the extremely harsh space environment.

Measurement lies at the heart of this.

In September of 1999, after almost 10 months of travel to Mars, NASA’s $125million Mars Climate Orbiter burned and broke into pieces – purely because the wrong type of measurement unit was used during the manufacturing process. Thankfully today we have the globally recognised SI units system of measurement to avoid such incidences…

Besides checking the accuracy of metrology equipment, calibration also helps to determine the traceability of the measurement.

During calibration, equipment such as micrometers, gauges and calipers are tested against an even higher-level standard, which ensures the results the tools provide are correct, and parts can be produced to the right specs.

Calibration is not a one-time mission

Calibrations have to be carried out at regular intervals. The accuracy of all measuring devices degrades over time, and calibration processes ensure that any deviations in measurement can be corrected so the device performs consistently.  

The aerospace industry in particular has specialised accuracy and reliability specifications for its equipment, and all measurement data and results need to incite an extreme level of confidence.

This means manufacturers need to employ a metrology system that can measure equipment efficiently while consistently attaining high levels of accuracy, which can be as tight as 0.01 mm.

Regular calibration ensures that equipment maintains its stated accuracy, minimising safety risks and bringing you one giant step towards better quality.

Talk to us

Our Calibration Select laboratory in Birmingham follows strict standards and processes which enable us to carry out metrology equipment calibrations for the aerospace industry.

We offer our customers the choice of either traceable or UKAS calibrations. If you want to find out which option is right for you, or if you’d like to know more about the calibration of your metrology equipment our experts are on hand to offer some friendly advice. We’d love to hear from you!

Creating an asset list can be a headache, we know! But while around 750 million people and 70% of organisations use spreadsheets to collate and manage data – and despite the fact there is a World Excel Championship – when it comes to creating a detailed list of your metrology and weighing equipment, spreadsheets (no matter how much enthusiasm you may muster for them) don’t provide the best ‘formula’ for success….

Here’s why a reliable asset list collation and management system can add more value than a spreadsheet, by giving you extra confidence in the accuracy of your data…

Firstly, we know creating an asset list is a time-consuming process – with potentially thousands of pieces of calibration equipment on site, for many businesses it can be a daunting task. But the benefits of keeping an accurate asset list far outweigh the administrative burden that comes with it – and more importantly, it is a crucial step in ensuring your equipment calibrations and periodical audits proceed without a glitch. But not every business can spare the resource needed to invest in this important step.

With a few tweaks, however, this doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, it is one step that can be simplified – while hugely improving your calibration process.

Why keep an asset list?

It goes without saying that every business will have their own set of internal processes for managing calibrations. With so much data to keep track of, keeping an accurate list is a common area businesses struggle with and 50% of QA teams admit their asset lists are out of date! (So, rest assured: you are not alone.)

However, putting in the work upfront to create an accurate list saves a huge amount of time in the long run, giving you swifter audits, asset traceability at your fingertips, and significantly reducing the risk of non-conformance when it comes to audits. It also puts you on the stepladder for creating a more efficient calibration process.

For any QA team, it is a crucial task.

The challenges

Despite this, many businesses still find the process challenging due to a range of factors, which include:

  • Insufficient support – Many businesses don’t have a dedicated Quality Manager or team to manage the process, meaning this responsibility is often shared out among multiple roles. Hence, the level of detail can often differ across the asset list!
  • Separate departments – Assets will often span multiple departments with different teams (each with their own procedure) responsible for them, making it hard to have one source of data.
  • Lack of time – Keeping an up-to-date asset list can fall down the priority list, with many businesses simply unable to dedicate the time needed to maintain it correctly.

So how can you better harmonise the process, while reducing your risks and the time it takes to build an accurate asset list?

Spreadsheet vs software

Firstly, the old spreadsheet vs software debate. Many of us tend to have a complicated relationship with spreadsheets, which can be a great tool for many things – from creating task lists to managing budgets – but when it comes to data asset management, they don’t offer the most reliable companion (you can take our Word for it).

Accuracy is very important for calibration management – and one small error can equal a huge problem!

With an estimated 88% of spreadsheets including mistakes, those errors can be costly when it comes to calibrations. Using an online portal with real-time data updates is a much more reliable way of managing your assets.

Many ‘spreadsheet databases’ also become quickly obsolete as the administrative upkeep falls down the priorities list. It’s a sad fact but, despite the amazing functions they come with, spreadsheets can be pretty hard to maintain.

This is where using the right software adds value …

How to collate and store your data (accurately)

Building and maintaining an accurate asset list is no easy task. It’s not a simple case of logging data into a spreadsheet.

With our asset collation service, Asset Scan, our calibration experts can help free up another valuable asset: time. Our calibration experts will attend your site and perform a search for all of your metrology and weighing assets to build a detailed asset list for you – taking all the hassle out of the process.

After your asset scan appointment has taken place, we’ll log the data in our Calibration Hub, which can then be used to manage your entire metrology calibration schedule and ensure you are audit-ready going forward.

What you gain:

  • A hassle-free service – no need to find the resource or time to collate an asset list yourself, meaning less detraction from your day-to-day business.
  • Highly skilled calibration engineers – who will complete the search and ensure every single detail needed is captured correctly.
  • Access to the Calibration Hub, an easy-to-use online portal – to store and manage your asset list and use as a central source of data for all departments to share.

To speak to our experts about arranging an Asset Scan appointment, or to find out more about the Calibration Hub, click here to contact our team. We’d love to hear from you!

Humans have a long, successful history of adding value to raw materials to turn them into something more useful. Prior to the advent of manufacturing, it’s daunting to think that most products were made by hand. But luckily, the technological changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution dramatically changed our ways of producing goods.

Henry Ford’s introduction of the assembly line in 1913, for instance, made moves towards efficiently mass-producing an entire automobile. His first assembly line cut the time it took to construct a car from over 12 hours to an impressive one hour and thirty-three minutes!

Today this important innovation has enabled manufacturers to create products in high volume at a remarkable rate, enabling them to take advantage of economies of scale. But manufacturing also requires balancing efficient production and effective quality control measures to create safe, high-quality products.

This is where calibration takes the load off…

Calibration and its role in manufacturing

With the ever-increasing influx of automation, it’s important to ensure that production is repeatedly accurate.

Parts need to be produced within a customer’s required specifications, within a pre-set tolerance for error, which means the highly complex machines that are involved in producing and assembling those parts – at every single step of the manufacturing process – need to be reliable.

Metrology equipment is used by manufacturers to ensure that their products and their parts are accurately and precisely manufactured, measured and assembled. The process that checks the equipment used is delivering accurate results time and time again is calibration.

Why calibrate?

To ensure that metrology equipment – from torque wrenches to micrometers – are producing the correct measurements, they need to be regularly checked.

This is important as, over a period of time and from constant use, their measurements can shift slightly, which can create differences and product deviations, beyond the famed margin of error.

Instruments used within manufacturing environments are particularly vulnerable to this. Micrometers, for instance, are widely used to assure the quality of parts, but simple changes such as heat from the hands can warm the frame of a micrometer, causing significant measurement errors. Similarly, if it’s been dropped or damaged in any way, it’s important to ensure, through calibration, that the tool is still delivering the correct measurement results.

But it’s not just quality assurance calibration offers manufacturers, it also brings a number of other important benefits:

The benefits of calibrating to manufacturers

  1. Create confidence in products – During calibration, the results from a measurement device are compared against a traceable reference device with a higher level of accuracy. Any discrepancies found can then be adjusted accordingly. By ensuring accuracy at every level of the manufacturing chain, manufacturers have confidence that their equipment is producing high quality products, which feeds down to trust from their customers.
  2. Ensure safety and quality – Having accurate measurement results is particularly important when looking at the levels of tension required within critical joints and fastenings on cars, aircraft, and heavy-duty machinery. The measurement of torque is one of the most important aspects during the manufacturing of high-quality products and is required to ensure that the fasteners used in automobiles, for example, are installed securely. The joints need to be bound with absolute tightness, which is critical to safety.  Without properly calibrated equipment, it’s impossible to meet quality requirements, such as ISO.
  3. Reduce costs and manufacturing errors – Small measurement errors can equal big costs, so having accurately calibrated equipment can reduce the risk for product defects and therefore expensive repairs.

How often should equipment be calibrated?

Dimensional equipment such as calipers, are one of the most common hand tools used within manufacturing. Due to their precision accuracy it’s important to calibrate these devices at least once a year. Similarly, torque wrenches should also be calibrated at least once a year due to their high level of use.

Other questions to consider when thinking about the frequency of calibrations are: Is the device dropped or banged constantly? Or are you using the tool in unusually hot, cold, humid or wet conditions? If yes, you might want to consider a more frequent calibration schedule.

Luckily, calibrations don’t need to be laborious …

We’re here to help

If you’re a manufacturer and you’d like some advice on calibrations within your business, reach out to our experts. We offer both ISO standard calibrations and UKAS accredited calibrations across a full range of metrology disciplines in our labs, including torque, temperature, dimensional and electrical equipment. We’d love to hear from you!