CALIBRATION OR TESTING?
30 December 2020
“Calibration” and “Test” are two terms most of us have heard at some stage. We tend to associate these two words with the notion of verification, precision, compliance, reliability… But exactly what does each term mean and how do they apply to the products and equipment we work with?
Calibration can be defined as the “documented comparison between the measurement device required to be calibrated and another device serving as a traceable standard.” In other words, calibration is the process of comparing something we know (the device used as our standard) with something we don’t know (the device we want to calibrate). This comparison results in a deviation value, which gives us an idea of the percentage error of measurements made with our device relative to the correct measurement (those made with a meter used as a standard).
This deviation allows us to establish whether our device is accurate enough for its intended purpose, and hence to take suitable corrective action, such as adjusting our device or having it repaired.
Therefore, the concept of calibration exclusively applies to measurement devices.
Testing, however has a much broader meaning. It could be defined as an “operation consisting in the determination of one or more characteristics of a certain product, process or service, in accordance with a specified process”.
In other words, we are determining, or measuring, certain characteristics – e.g. mechanical stress resistance, resistance to ageing, or thermal, acoustic or electrical insulation capability – in order to ascertain whether or not they meet certain requirements, usually determined by a Standard or by client specifications.
This test will be carried out following an established procedure, which will set out the conditions (eg. temperature and humidity), the characteristics of our test equipment, and the way in which we document these conditions and our test results.
In either case, the results are documented by means of a Test Certificate.
Consequently, for the type of services provided by Kolab Ensayos, the correct term to use is Testing (of hotsticks, rubber insulating gloves, aerial devices, etc.) or verification (of voltage detectors, fall protection systems). And in order to carry them out we need have our equipment (High Voltage Sources, temperature and humidity meters, pressure gauges…) calibrated by an accredited laboratory, which will compare them with their own device serving as the traceable standard.
At Kolab Ensayos we will gladly answer any questions regarding the tests and verifications/inspections we carry out. And of course the calibration certificates for our equipment are available upon request.