The Dangers of Having a Scale Calibrated Incorrectly

December 3, 2018

Regardless of what industry you’re in or what type of precision instrumentation you use to measure and regulate, forgoing calibration will quickly cause your equipment to become imbalanced due to general use and environmental variables. As a scale, flow meter, or pressure gauge becomes more and more imbalanced, it becomes less and less accurate.

Let’s take a look at a few specific problems that have dire consequences resulting from improper scale calibration or a complete lack of maintenance.

Scenario 1: Liability Concerns

If you run a food production facility that uses a variety of measurement instrumentation such as scales, flow meters, and thermometers to produce identical batches of product and/or ensure food safety, you already know that food regulation standards mandate the periodical calibration of that equipment. To ensure accuracy, maintain repeatability and ensure consumer safety, this instrumentation needs to be precise.

If you’re not keeping up to date on the routine calibration of your various equipment, liability concerns become apparent. You might turn out a product that’s unsafe, demanding a costly and embarrassing recall. In our last blog post, we already briefly touched on what can happen to a business when the public finds out one of their products has been subject to recall.

Although regulations don’t stipulate how often you need to calibrate your equipment, you still must keep a record of each calibration. The most common recommendation for calibration frequency is every six months, but it’s important to check what your state and local authorities mandate. If you don’t keep a record, or have access to it through the company that provides calibration services you might be called out during an inspection and fined heavily for not maintaining traceable certification documentation. And of course, you may have to scrap bad product runs, which means a hit to your profits and your bottom line.

Scenario 2: Safety Issues

If you’re in the pharmaceutical industry, the measurements you’re working with are in milligrams, and even the smallest variance could drastically change the composition of the drug you’re creating. The wrong drug composition could very easily lead to a major lawsuit, not to mention the hospitalization and possible deaths of individual patients.

If the instruments you’re using are inaccurate, such as if a scale is off by even a milligram, you could be mixing up a drug that’s too potent—or worse, dangerous to the point of being deadly. Even more dangerous, if the testing equipment used to verify accurate mixtures is incorrect, there’s a possibility that improperly-mixed drug gets into the hands of someone filling their prescription. It’s a scary situation that you can avoid by using accurately calibrated equipment.

Scenario 3: Loss of Revenue

Money talks louder than most things. Poorly calibrated equipment leads to waste which results in increased costs. In addition to waste, in industries that require accurate measurements such as the food industry, medical industry, pharmaceutical industry, construction, and power industry for safety reasons, businesses who ignore calibration face both fines and profit loss when products are recalled, or there’s a record of accidents and/or deaths related to poor quality and inaccuracies.

How to Prevent Calibration Errors

Preventing calibration errors doesn’t need to be complicated. The first and best step is to work with a professional who offers calibration and quality control services, and who will provide you with access to accurate and up to date documentation of every calibration. By ensuring traceable calibration, a professional can help you avoid any of the scenarios laid out above by keeping your instrumentation reliable and accurate.

This article is just a brief overview of some of the most critical issues related to calibration and quality control. We’ll be covering other aspects related to these topics and more in upcoming blog posts. If you have any questions about what we’ve covered so far or have any questions about calibration, fill out the contact form or leave them in the comments section below.

Categorised in:

Texas Measurement & Calibration Solutions, LLC