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• In this section, the procedures and

methodologies to carry out a
calibration will be discussed. In
addition, the approach to calculate
errors in a calibration will be shown.
Objective Of Calibration

• The prime objective of calibration is

to ensure that measurements taken
are accurate at all times taking into
consideration wear and tear,
degradation and abuse. It is with this
in mind that we need to adopt and
appropriate methodology to do a
proper calibration.
Scope of Calibration

In developing a calibration program, the following

should be taken into consideration :
 Involve all testers or those who use measuring
and test equipment
 Calibration must be conducted on all equipment
used to verify product compliance.
 Engineering measuring equipment must all be
Hierarchy of Standards
• The hierarchy of standards used in a calibration is shown as
follows :

Reference Standard

Working Standards

Measuring & Test Equipment

 Primary or National standards are the ultimate reference standards for determining
a measurement. As an example, a standard measurement of a meter is set by a steel
rod of this length which is the primary standard. All other standards used to conduct
a calibration must be checked with reference to this standard from the working to
the reference standard
Standard Adequacy

• Working standard used to calibrate internal measuring

equipment must be traceable to either a National or Primary
Standard. In addition, their accuracy must be 4 to 10
times more accurate compared to the equipment to be
calibrated. For instance, portable water analyzer such as pH
meter, NTU meter with the standard measurement scale,
can be calibrated internally by using the standard solution
that provided.

• Occasionally, an equipment may be state of the art and

hence, there is no reference standard available. In this
case, this equipment can be calibrated with another
equipment of the same type, make and model.
Traceability of Calibration
• In a country, a calibration must be traceable to a National
Standard held by a national body (eg. SIRIM or other
government agencies of Malaysia). If this national standard
is not available. The calibration must be traceable to
another country. Traceability of a calibration is important
as an incorrect reference standard used will not ensure that
the equipment calibrated has the required accuracy.

• As most companies send out their equipment for calibration,

mandatory that they check the capability of the calibration
agent. Those that are certified to the ISO 9000 Guide 25
will be able to provide an appropriate traceability. For
others, you will need to check the reference standards used
and their respective traceability.
Factors to Consider in a Calibration

• Calibration Environment
• Interval of Calibration
• Accuracy of Standard Master
• Out of Tolerance Equipment
• Subcontractor Controls
• Uncertainty of Measurement
• Handling the Storage
• Identification and Status of Calibration
• Training
• Documentation and Records
Calibration Environment
Environment conditions which could affect a calibration are as follows. This will
largely dependent on the sensitivity of an equipment to the various conditions. Consult
the equipment manufacturer to determine the appropriate environmental conditions
required to do a calibration.

• Temperature
• Humidity
• Vibration
• Dust
• Noise
• Light
• Air Movement
• Magnetic Field

Some examples where controlling certain environment factors is critical for the
different types of measurement are as follows :

 Chemical Analyses – pH value and NTU are critical

Interval of Calibration
• Interval between one calibration to another is an important aspect to
ensure the continuing accuracy of an equipment. This must be established
for all measuring and test equipment, each may be set at different
intervals dependent on the degree of usage and other factors such as:

> Stability
> Frequency of Use
> Accuracy
> Purpose of Use

• If you are unsure which is the best interval to choose, always follow the
equipment manufacturer’s recommendations. This interval should be
reviewed from time and as a rule of thumb, it should be adjusted based on
the calibration history. For example, if an equipment is calibrated on a six
monthly basis and it is found to be out of calibration frequently, then the
calibration interval should be changed either 2 or 3 monthly.

• What actions and the calibration interval on the equipment would you recommend to
the user for the following :

1. An instrument is found to have failed 2 times in the last 2 calibrations

performed at 6 monthly intervals.
2. A newly purchased pH on-line analyzer which will be used in production daily.
Calibration interval recommended by manufacturer is 3 monthly.
3. A Magnetic Flow Meter used to measure the flow of water with
specification of 0.5 to 1 % accuracy.
Accuracy of Magnetic Flow Meter is 0.5 to 1% with Calibration interval of
yearly using the Flow Meter Verificator.

• As discussed in the previous section, the

reference standard used to do a calibration must
be at least 4 to 10 times more accurate than the
equipment. In general, a 95% confidence level is
preferred and this gives a + 2 sigma (standard
deviation) or 4 sigma capability in a measurement.
• When an equipment is found to be out of tolerance or not having the required
accuracy, certain steps must be taken. Actions to be taken include decisions on
whether the equipment can be used or not and what needs to be done on the affected
products as follows :

> Review all measurements prior to and after adjustment is made to the
affected equipment.
> Decide on whether the equipment can be used or has to be thrown away
or used for lesser accuracy measurements.
> Review previous batches of products ( 1 week or more) where
measurements have been taken using this out of tolerance equipment
prior to and after an adjustment has been made to correct the out of
calibration situation. Decide whether they meet specification or not.
> If the equipment can be used but needs correction to their readings, then the
compensation or offset factors must be stated on the equipment.
Subcontractor Controls

• In choosing an appropriate subcontractor to perform your

calibration, it is critical that an accredited calibrating lab
or agent is used (those certified to ISO 9000 Guide 25).
Ask for a copy of their certification before selecting them.
You will also need to ensure that the reference standards
used by the calibrating lab or agent is traceable to national
standard. The calibration method used should also be
checked to ensure they used an appropriate or recognized
procedure. Both of these requirement can be verified on
their Certificate of Calibration, which is issued to you upon
completion of a calibration for each set of equipment.
Uncertainty Of Measurement

The uncertainty of measurement of a calibration needs to be

calculated to determine all the possible sources of errors. It is
given by the formula :

Uncertainty of Measurement = + t (from a Students t-table) x s

(standard deviation of variation).

As a rule of thumb, the uncertainty of measurement must not exceed

30% of the tolerance of a measurement. If it does, it’s mean that the
equipment is not suitable for use as its required accuracy is not
sufficient. A measurement taken using this equipment will give a false
or inaccurate value.
Handling and Storage
• The proper handling and storage of measuring equipment and their
reference standards are an essential part of establishing an
effective Calibration Program. Some of the guidelines to follow are
as follows:

 Handling – ensure the equipment is appropriately handled during use, storage and
 Proper Storage – ensure equipment is stored in their respective casing or special
storage container under appropriate environmental conditions as required.
 Proper Packing for Transportation – ensure the equipment is appropriately packed to
protected them from movement and damage during transportation (eg. Use “bubble
bags” or impact absorbent materials).
 Check that the calibration status is valid before issuing an equipment for use
(especially newly purchased equipment).
 Ensure that the equipment is appropriately sealed with a tamper-proof sticker or
marking, etc to prevent unauthorized adjustment or repair.
Identification and Status of Calibration

• Upon completion of a calibration, each equipment

must be appropriately labeled to indicate their
status. Depending on the size of the equipment, it
may not be possible to attach a calibration label
on all instruments. For an equipment such as
thermometer it may not be practical to stick such
a label. Therefore, other means such as color
coding can be used instead of a label to indicate
their calibration status. Alternatively, the label
may be attached to the casing or container.
Example of the various labels or identifications which can be used are as

• Passed Calibration


• Tamper Proof Label

These labels are used to prevent tampering on the equipment after it is calibrated.

An example is as follows :

Calibration Seal

If Broken
• “DO NOT USE” Label
This label is used to indicate that a specific equipment cannot be used
either because it is damaged or needs repair or malfunctioned or its
calibration is out of tolerance.

Perbadanan Bekalan Air

PBA Pulau Pinang Sdn. Bhd.


• “No Calibration Required” Label

This label is used to indicate those equipment which do not require any
calibration. These are mainly those used for rough measurement and for
which accuracy is not important. Some examples are process
instrumentation such as chlorine analyzers and ultrasonic level sensor, etc.

Perbadanan Bekalan Air

PBA Pulau Pinang Sdn. Bhd.


• Personnel appointed to perform calibration must

be appropriately trained together with proper
education and experience. They must understand
the characteristic and features of an equipment,
and its usage (ie. Required accuracy, stability,
sensitivity, etc). Furthermore, the personnel must
know the calibration procedures and
methodologies including the calculation of
uncertainty of measurement and sources of
errors. Various training courses are now available
and those responsible for performing calibration
must attend these courses.
Documentation and Records
• Appropriate documentation and records must be maintained as
part of a calibration program. Essential ones are as follows :

a) Master List of Equipment

A master list of equipment shall be maintained to indicate all the measuring equipment used in a
company. It should state as a minimum, the following details :

 Equipment Identification (ID)

 Location
 Required Accuracy
 Measurement Range
 Calibration Interval
 Calibration Lab/Agent (internal or external)
 Date Calibrated
 Date due for Next Calibration
 Pass / Fail Calibration
b) Calibration Plan

For each type of equipment, a calibration plan shall be developed. This plan shall
outline all the steps to conduct a calibration including :

 Reference standards to be used ;

 Recording methodologies ;
 Environmental conditions for calibration ;
 Calculations ;
 Approach to handle an out of tolerance situation.

The plan should also outline the recalling system to ensure each piece of equipment is
calibrated either on or before their due date. A reminder system or calibration
schedule is necessary.

c) Training Records

Training records shall be maintained for all personnel authorized to perform

d) Out of Calibration Notice and Records

Notices advising the relevant department and personnel of an equipment found to be

out of calibration and the corresponding actions (s) taken shall be maintained.

e) Manufacturers’ Handbooks

Manufacturers’ handbooks or reference manuals used as part of calibration shall also

be controlled and kept by the department responsible for calibration.

f) Calibration Certificate

Calibration certificate provide by an external calibrating organization must be kept

as proof of calibration and are to be maintained as part of the calibration records.
Internal calibration certificate also required to be kept at the respective cost
g) Records of Usage

Records of usage are to show the persons who have used the equipment and to
indicate the degree of usage and what measurements were taken.

h) Measurement Equipment History Record

A history record should be maintained for each piece of equipment. It should contain
the following details :

 make, model and type or brand

 date of purchase
 department using this equipment and its location use
 date of first calibration
 adjustment made during calibration (if any)
 repair & service details
 action taken on out of tolerance situation (if any)
 date of disposal (when it is unusable).
Thank you
Prepared By:
Mohd Suhaimi Shariff