How do I know if an item I have requires calibration? Well, first we must answer, what is calibration? Calibration is all about measurements. It is a comparison between a known measurement, the standard, and the measurement using your instrument.
This might just sound like a bunch of words, so let’s see an example. You’re an electrician or mechanic that uses a multimeter (commonly known as a voltmeter.) You need to check a 9-volt battery you had laying in a drawer to see if it’s still good. The test leads are placed on the terminals of the battery, and your multimeter reads 3 volts. Looks like a bad battery! But is it? How do we know that the multimeter is reading accurately? Is it a bad battery or a bad multimeter? You can’t be sure unless your multimeter is calibrated. A calibration on your multimeter will ensure that the reading you see, the 3 volts in this instance, is a true reading.
Now, this is on a small scale, and in the end most people aren’t worried about their 9-volt batteries; however, think about your wall outlets. Say you need to do some electrical work in the house. You want to make sure you have 120 volts coming out of the wall to power the things in your home appropriately without damage. Too much could cause harm to those expensive stainless-steel appliances you just installed. Or not enough could make it seem like the appliances are bad.
Calibration is important because it helps assure accurate measurements of things like this. Accurate measurements are required for most research, development, and innovation.
In our day-to-day lives, from childhood to adulthood, we utilize calibrated items more than one would realize. One common occurrence most frequent bi-weekly if not weekly – The gas pump. We all want to ensure we get the amount of gas we are paying for, but we would not be able to tell if the flow of the pump was not calibrated! The pressure in your tires keeps you on the road and moving safely. How do we know that our tires really have 33 PSI in them? We use more calibrated measuring devices.
Again, this is on a smaller scale. Now take that to airplanes. We definitely want to be sure all components are functioning as we soar above the ground. Does the plane have the right amount of fuel for the trip? Is the cabin pressurized appropriately?
Say you’re not feeling well, and you go to visit the doctor. They take your blood pressure and check your temperature. These are more measurements using calibrated devices. In the medical field, it is imperative to our health that calibrated devices are used so we get the correct medication doses and the care we need.
Something to also consider would be your industry and facility quality policy. As previously mentioned in our examples, many industries (nuclear, medical, aerospace, etc.) require items to be calibrated for the safety of their employees and consumers.
So, do I need calibration? We all do!