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Sunday, 30 September 2007

Monitoring and Measuring Devices

Both ISO9001 Quality Management and ISO14001 Environmental Management systems require that devices used for making meaningful measurements or tests should be calibrated or verified before use. Any calibration must be traceable to a National or International Standard.

There is an increasing trend for small companies to purchase so called "calibration boxes" and do it themselves. While this may be adequate as a verification it cannot take the place of a proper calibration by a calibration house.

I have witnessed the level of checking that takes place during a routine calibration and in comparison with a quick plug in check shows how much risk could be generated by not knowing the level of uncertainty.

Some electricians and electrical system testers are relying on the calibration box to assure themselves that their equipment is accurate. This may not be the case and if (when) someone is injured or killed their Insurance Company may void the policy for the company and the liability would then revert to the directors/owners for compensation. This could mean seizing of assets, and at worst bankruptcy.

The small amount of money that is saved by the DIY calibration route may well prove to be an expensive option. In addition the loss of reputation and damage to personal pride in the job may well have far reaching consequences.

Generally, the 'calibration boxes' that are available today are designed to be used for a daily or weekly check of the proper operation of equipment. However, such checks should no more be relied upon as a demonstration of accuracy than you would rely upon a check of the dipstick to replace servicing of a modern motor car.

The message is clear: If you use any monitoring and measuring equipment that is used for making meaningful measurements or tests then have it calibrated by a professional calibration house to ensure that the risk is minimal.

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