Is Field Calibration or Lab Calibration Right for You?

by Garber Metrology

Field calibration and lab calibration are the two primary calibration services companies rely on to ensure their equipment is accurate. Both of these options can be right for particular environments and situations, so it’s important to understand both services’ potential benefits and drawbacks. By knowing more information about them, you can pick the right one for your needs.

Find out more about what field and lab calibration services are, as well as their advantages and disadvantages, to determine which service is right for you.

Field Calibration Services

Field calibration refers to a company sending trained staff to a client’s facility and performing calibration on-site rather than the client sending their equipment to a lab. These mobile technicians will bring the right equipment to help them perform their on-site duties appropriately.

If you’re considering field calibration services, here is a look at the advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of Field Calibration

Some of the advantages of field calibration include:

  • Greater speed: You can often save time by choosing field tuning services over lab tuning services. Since the technician comes to your facility, you don’t have to take the time to pack up the equipment and ship it to a lab. While lab calibration can also be fast, mobile calibration often has the edge in speed because there’s no shipping involved in the process. Since field services can be quicker, you can reduce downtime and get back to work faster.
  • Easier total loop calibration: When you want to calibrate an entire measurement loop, field calibration is usually the better choice. It allows a company to adjust their entire system without having to uninstall all of it and send it out to a lab, which can take a great deal of time and lower productivity.
  • Improved transparency: Some companies want to review the calibration process from the beginning to the end. Since technicians work at their clients’ facilities, on-site calibration is a perfect fit for companies that want an entirely transparent process.
  • Reduced costs: When you ship your equipment to a lab, you usually have to factor in handling and shipping costs. Field calibration removes these costs by sending the technician directly to you, saving you money as a result.

Disadvantages of Field Calibration

While there are many advantages to field calibration, one of the major disadvantages is a potential lack of control over the environment. For example, you might not be able to properly control the temperature and humidity of the room where the equipment is, which can be an issue for sensitive devices. If your equipment performs in harsh or challenging environments, you’ll likely want to ship it to a calibration lab instead.

In addition to environmental concerns, field calibration can sometimes put your staff and equipment in harm’s way. For instance, some equipment needs dangerous electrical and thermal current overloads during tuning. In the field, these safety issues can be too dangerous for technicians, so a lab’s more controlled environment becomes the safer option.

When to Use Field Calibration

If your equipment doesn’t need particular environments that your facility can’t offer and you want to avoid uninstalling your equipment for total loop calibration, requesting field calibration can be a great choice. For those who want a more convenient, quick process and total transparency, field calibration is often a good fit.

Lab Calibration Services

Lab calibration refers to a client uninstalling their facility’s equipment and shipping it to a company’s lab. The company will perform the calibration in a secure lab, and once completed, they’ll ship the calibrated equipment back to the client’s facilities.

As you decide between lab and field tuning services, find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of lab calibration below.

Advantages of Lab Calibration

Many companies turn to lab calibration due to the unique advantages it provides to them. While you decide between the two tuning options, find out more about the following main benefits of lab calibration:

  • Increased environmental control: Some companies have equipment that’s particularly sensitive to humidity and temperature during the calibration process. Usually, labs have better environmental controls, such as those for humidity and temperature, to ensure your equipment is calibrated accurately and safely.
  • Greater safety: At times, you may need calibration services that can put staff and equipment in harm’s way, such as equipment requiring electrical or thermal current overloads. Usually, labs have better safety procedures and equipment than those available in the field. This increased safety protects staff and equipment from damage during a dangerous procedure.
  • Better possible uncertainty: When your calibration needs require the best possible uncertainty, lab calibration is often the better option. Since labs come equipped with highly accurate stationary equipment and better environmental controls, they usually achieve the best possible uncertainty during the calibration process.
  • More access to equipment: Usually, labs have more equipment and machinery ready to assist with calibration. While there are pieces of portable equipment technicians can bring to your facility, a lab generally has more comprehensive and accurate stationary equipment. This extra machinery allows a calibration company to handle a wider variety of equipment needing tuning services and take on more complex jobs.

Disadvantages of Lab Calibration

While a lab’s fixed environment can be an advantage, it can also be a disadvantage to some clients. For example, clients that can’t ship their equipment out to a laboratory or don’t want to uninstall their entire total loop system will often avoid lab calibration. Additionally, lab services can sometimes take a little bit longer, so companies needing tight turnaround times may want to stick to field services.

Another minor disadvantage is the higher costs associated with shipping equipment to labs. If you’re running on a tight budget and don’t need a lab’s controlled environment, lab calibration might not be for you.

When to Use Lab Calibration

If your equipment is sensitive to its environment and needs a controlled atmosphere to achieve the best possible uncertainty, it’s usually ideal to request lab calibration. Additionally, companies needing more complex tuning services and greater safety will likely want to turn to lab calibration.

Garber Metrology Has the Calibration Services for You

Whether you need field or lab calibration, Garber Metrology can help. For over 40 years, we’ve been providing various companies with calibration services. We operate state-of-the-art in-house labs for times when you need a lab, and we can send expert technicians to your facilities when you need us to come to you. We’re proud of our many certifications, such as our ISO-17025 Accreditation, ensuring you receive only the best service possible.

Take a moment to review our precision calibration services. If you have any questions or want to receive a free quote, please contact us.

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