Keeping your measurement data correct is vital and the best way to do it is by ensuring your CMM equipment is calibrated properly. It can be tricky to choose the right calibration service provider, as there are common mistakes that can be easily avoided. Don't rush into it and give yourself enough time to pick the right one.
Of course, it's important to consider price, and many companies instinctively stay with service providers they have used in the past. However, focusing only on price and familiarity can be a costly mistake. It is essential you check a provider’s suitability and customer service ethic before taking on a calibration service.
In addition to including unforeseen costs, some ‘bargain’ CMM calibration service providers do an incomplete job that causes even more headaches. At the end of the day, you need to find a company that can provide you with precise measurements or they're not worth either your time or your money. With that in mind, here are the key things to consider when choosing reliable calibration services.
Are They Sufficiently Accredited?
The easiest way to confirm that a business is qualified to do the job is to find out whether they are accredited. There are many companies with the ISO 9000 standard but you should also look for ISO 9001 and ISO 17025, as they are indicators of professional expertise and a high quality service.
Can They Calibrate Your Equipment?
This is especially important if you have many machines that need calibration. It's wise to choose a service provider that can calibrate all of your equipment, regardless of the manufacturer. Choose a business with broad experience who can calibrate everything you have and you will reduce logistics costs and save time dealing with multiple suppliers.
Your Service Provider Should Cover All The Parameters, Options, And Ranges
In order to fulfil your requirements, a service provider has to carry out their role within certain accuracies and specifications. For example, some CMMs can have specific options to perform specific tasks. What if your service provider can calibrate only some of your tasks? Make sure they know how to work with all the parameters and ranges as per your requirements. Before you make a choice, prepare a list of all your specifications and thoroughly discuss them with a calibration service provider.
Check The Traceability Of The Standards
There are many service providers who can tell you that your machine has failed calibration, which means it's not performing within the specified limits. But what's next? If your service provider can't repair or make any adjustments, you will have to search for another company who can help you. As a result, you will get longer turnaround times and pay more for additional services. Instead, look for a service provider who also offers repair and adjustment services, and who can lend you additional equipment to bridge the gap if necessary.
Information That Will Be In Your Calibration Report
Most service providers are ready to provide you with a sample of their calibration report to give you an idea of what you will get. Make sure the report has information about their equipment, traceability, tolerances, test specifications, results, and coverage. Make sure this data meets your requirements, regulations, and specifications.
Check Their Turnaround Time
To prevent inspection bottlenecks, it is vital to minimise CMM equipment downtime. Talk to several service providers and ask them how much time they need to calibrate your equipment and remember to ask whether off site transportation is required, or whether an engineer can calibrate on site. Sometimes, repair for items out of tolerance requires a lot of time. Some service providers offer on-site service or 24-hour turnaround time, both of which can significantly reduce downtime.
Ask About Their Calibration Inventory Management Software
You can eliminate a lot of guesswork if you choose a service provider who uses calibration asset management software. This is important because it will allow you to see online calibration certificates, service history, asset lists, their previous work, etc. It is especially helpful if you have lots of equipment or when your assets are spread over different locations.
Sometimes, thorough calibration requires testing for certain temperature and vibration factors which are impossible to control on-site. It is required by the ISO standards to reduce measurement uncertainty. Therefore, some providers insist on off site calibrations at a specialist testing facility.
Though on-site calibration is the most convenient for you, it doesn’t always allow for a complete inspection. Service providers who operate an off site metrology lab have the accurate equipment to ensure the environment is perfectly suited to make proper measurements. Moreover, many providers offer a next-day return service to reduce downtime. Talk to your provider about the available options and see what they have to offer.
How The Calibration Is Performed
Different service providers perform calibrations in different ways. For example, some service providers may cut corners to provide a quick on-site service. One of the last things to look for in a perfect provider is to the ability to perform preventative maintenance procedures by cleaning each instrument. It doesn't take long but it is necessary to minimise future expenses and ensure proper performance. Preventative maintenance is essential for CMMs but some providers skip this step altogether. If you notice your provider is rushing through the process, the chances of mistakes are much higher.
Do you have other questions regarding calibration? Are you looking for a new calibration provider? At Status Metrology we provide calibration and repair services for a range of different CMMs by different manufacturers, and our support team is available to answer questions you may have as you choose a calibration provider for your needs.