Calibration Service 101
| Would you drive 50,000 miles without changing your oil? So what makes you think that you can use your Sensor continuously without any calibration service?
Just like changing your cars oil, your Sensors will require a periodic service check up. The service cycles will vary due to the number of variables involved. Taking this into account we’ve reviewed some of the most common focus points you should consider when deciding how often your Sensor needs calibration service.
How many cycles will you be exposing your sensor to?
This is very important! Will you be using your sensor once a month or take 65,000 measurements an hour. The more usage and abuse you put your sensor through, the more frequent the service periods it will require. If you read last month’s newsletter, you noticed that our load cell has been used for over 420 million cycles. Of course, we would like to brag that it’s all product quality but part of that success was to make sure we provided a healthy calibration cycle for the load cell we used and optimal loading conditions.
What kind of environments are your sensors exposed to?
When it comes to application environments, the variation can be overwhelming. Some Sensors are placed in Clean Rooms while others qualify for the discovery show, Dirty Jobs. We are assuming that you notified your sensor manufacturing about the type of environment the sensor will be exposed to select the most qualified product. Even with that in mind you can’t expect your Sensor to continue operating endlessly without some TLC. High/Low temperatures, submersible or liquid applications are the most common factors that increase the wear and tear on your Sensor. Thus you can safely assume that the more challenging the requirement, the more frequent the service check up should be.
What percentage of the load are you applying on your sensor?
Let’s suppose you have a 1000 lbs Pancake Load Cell (aka Low Profile Load Cell). Will you apply 500 lbs or 1200 lbs each time it’s loaded? FUTEK does not recommend that you overload your Sensors but in case you do, you should consider servicing your sensor more frequently. “Spike Loading” and Extraneous Loading on your sensors are additional factors that effect your calibration service cycles. Spike loading means that the load is applied on the sensor in an intense manner. Does your Sensor have overload protection? Overload protection is a built-in mechanism we provide on several Load Cells we offer to help reduce the potential damage that will be done to the unit if you overload it.
How critical is it to have your sensor be within its tolerance?
This is one of the key points when assessing how often a calibration service is required. Clearly some applications are more critical than others. For instance, let’s say your product was serviced precisely 1 year ago and you just realized that your measurements have been off by 5% (which is outside your products specifications). Will this cause any concern in your team? Will a recall have to be made on all your products that relied on your Sensors readings? The more severe the consequence the more measurements you need to take to protect your team from practicing the Homer Simpson outbreak (“Doh~!”).
Is constant monitoring of your Sensors performance required?
In some cases, the sensor’s role is so critical that the assembly line would be shut down while the sensor is being serviced. In such cases we recommend that you purchase a Portable Sensor Verification instrument. A Portable Sensor Verification instrument could easily be connected to your sensors and monitor their performance as often as your application requires it. Here’s a great article on how it can help your assembly line: Extra Sensor Perception: How Reliable is Your Sensor. Another alternative is to have one or several backup sensors readily available. You may spend a little more than you originally planned to, but keep in mind that most sensor manufacturers will work with you on pricing as quantity goes up. More importantly, which will be most costly? Buying a few backup units or having your assembly line down for a week because you don’t have a fail-safe plan? Enough said.
If these variables relate to your product then we hope you already have an action plan in place and it’s just a summary of things you are already considering. If not, then we recommend that you get in touch with us to help you assess your particular case and come up with a plan that’s unique to your situation. FUTEK offers various Calibration Services to ensure that your Load, Torque and Pressure Sensors are performing at optimal levels.
FUTEK Increases Calibration Testing Capacity To 130,000 lbs in Tension & 400,000 lbs in Compression
FUTEK Advanced Sensor Technology, Inc (www.futek.com) is pleased to announce the addition of their new custom designed INSTRON Model 600LX Hydraulic Testing Machine to their A2LA 17025 certified calibration department. This addition will increase FUTEK’s testing capacity to 130,000 lbs (58,967 kgs, 578KN) in both tension and compression in a single test space design. This allows FUTEK technicians to fixture once and test in both tension and compression, known as “fixture once, test once.
Jeffrey Sutherland (1955-2008)
We are sad to announce the passing of Jeff Sutherland who was a FUTEK Team Member and dear friend to us all. Our condolences are with his family. Jeff lived in Humble and was currently an engineering consultant specializing in power supplies and biomedical devices. His earlier work was in oilfield services (NL Industries), and he was part of the team whose work resulted in the reality of magnetic resonance imaging. Jeff possessed a vaulting intelligence: he was a true Renaissance Man with an encyclopedic memory. His interests strayed far from electronics into such fields as literature: music--classical, jazz, and rock; gourmet cookery; and raising African violets and tropical fish. He was everyone's Mr. Fix-It, and nothing broken seemed beyond his capacity to mend. He gave of his time as generously to friends as to his family.