What Exactly Is the True Definition of Calibration?

What Exactly IS Calibration?

Calibration is a term that people often hear, but never truly understand. Calibrate, in our modern vernacular, can mean several different things. The term “calibrate” first came to the English language around the Civil War as a term for artillery. The process of aiming heavy artillery, calibrating, was to adjust the pitch and direction of fire. Artillery, while devastating, was notoriously hard to aim, and could only be done after observing where the first round landed, hence calibrating.

However, calibration as we know it now, doesn’t refer to adjusting the angle of the heavy fire from a cannon, but rather refers more towards our standard metric for measurements. Many common objects that we use on a daily basis need to be calibrated from time to time to maintain accuracy. These objects can include but are not limited to:

  • Scales
  • Thermometers
  • Timers, Stopwatches, or Clocks

Each of these all bear a great deal of importance and require accuracy. If a scale is off, then either the customer or the store is deprived of an accurate price. If a thermometer is off, you could find yourself with a bad case of salmonella due to undercooked foods.

How is a Device Calibrated?

While it ultimately depends on the device in question, the process of calibration always has the same result. If there is not active force working against the gage (whatever it may be gaging) then it should “zero” out. A scale is a good example of this, if there is nothing on the scale, then it should read 0. Where it gets tricky, is not everything has a perfect 0 setting like the scale does. The process of calibration and the actual setting can vary depending on the individual device.

When Should a Device Be Calibrated?

There are plenty of situations in which a calibration can and should be performed. Here’s a quick guideline as to when you should consider calibrating:

  • If the device is new
  • After a repair or modification
  • After a certain amount of time (annually, quarterly, etc)
  • After a specific amount of usage
  • Shock (dropping, vibration and impact can all affect the readout)
  • When the readings seem questionable
  • When it’s required to match customer specifications
  • When it is recommended by the manufacturer

Having a device that reads accurately is very important and has a huge impact on both commerce and safety. If you need to have a device calibrated then contact Garber Metrology. Not only have they been in service since 1975, but they even make house calls (which can be very beneficial if you have a large device or need a calibration done on the quick.) Garber understands exactly what’s required of your devices and can help you calibrate to you or your customers needs.