When working in a laboratory, you rely on your equipment for a variety of jobs and experiments. So, if one of your tools was damaged and didn’t work properly, you would repair it, right? This is how calibration acts for some of the more sensitive tools in the lab, yet many laboratory technicians neglect calibration. So, what happens when you don’t calibrate your lab equipment? Some of the risks of not calibrating your equipment regularly include:
- Inaccurate results
- Violating lab regulations
- Wasted materials
- Damaged equipment
- Accidents or injury
Keep reading for an in-depth look into each of these consequences for not maintaining calibration and why this process is so important.
What Is Equipment Calibration?
Calibration is the practice of comparing a certain tool’s measurements with the standard measurements for said tool. If there is any gap between the two, sometimes known as “drift,” digital or physical recalibration will correct this error and essentially reset the tool back to its original, correct measurements. Calibration isn’t usually something that you can do in the lab yourself. Most lab technicians will send their tools to experts for them to make the necessary adjustments. Additionally, this isn’t a process that’s exclusive to laboratories. Many tools and pieces of equipment across a variety of fields must be calibrated to function properly.
What Can Happen When You Don’t Calibrate
Some laboratories might not be up to speed on these procedures. Maybe they aren’t aware of the need for calibration, they keep putting it off, or they can’t spare the tools for it. Whatever the reason, calibration is extremely important, and you should always prioritize this process in your laboratory. If you forget about or neglect regular calibration procedures, there are several consequences that can occur. It isn’t worth it to put it off for another few months, weeks, or even days in some cases. The examples below are what can happen when equipment goes without this important maintenance.
One thing that you will notice right away if you put off calibration is inaccuracies in your experiments and results. Because the measurements that the equipment produces are out of sync with the standard measurements, your tool will be giving you the wrong data. This may not seem like a big deal when the gap is so small that you can't notice it, but many experiments in the lab require accurate measurements down to the minute details or else they become unstable. These inaccuracies can harm the quality of your results, products, and ultimately your lab’s reputation.
Failure To Comply With Regulations
All types of laboratories must abide by policies and regulations to maintain safety and quality. If you want to be certified in the industry, maintaining accurate, calibrated tools is an essential quality of your lab space. Failure to calibrate your tools also means failure to comply with most laboratory standards and regulations, which won’t reflect well on your lab’s reputation. Make sure you keep up with the lab standards and regulations for your type of lab, whether you run a school lab, a professional space, or anything in between.
Due to the inaccurate measurements that come with uncalibrated tools, continuing to use these tools in practice will inevitably lead to failed tests and experiments. Failed experiments mean wasted materials. Not only will you be wasting valuable resources, but failed experiments also cost your lab time, manpower, and money in wasted materials. In some tests, even slight margins of error between your measurement and the standard can cause materials to become unstable and go to waste. This is why you should have regular recalibration sessions to nib these errors in the bud.
Beyond losing money in materials, time, and resources, you can also cause damage to your equipment by neglecting calibration. Some instruments in the lab can be fragile and are more susceptible to damage than others. Regular inspections, maintenance, and calibration can help you maintain the quality of these tools. Calibrating and maintaining these materials can help you get the most use out of them as possible, instead of replacing them. And if you’re having trouble with the readings of a certain instrument, check to see if it needs recalibration before assuming it’s broken and tossing it. This can save you money in replacement costs. Equipment costs already take up a huge portion of a laboratory’s budget, so why increase this any further?
Accidents & Injury
Leaving equipment uncalibrated can even pose a threat in some laboratories. In labs with large pieces of equipment and machinery, any errors can be dangerous to those operating these tools. When it comes to digital tools, the lack of calibration can pose an electrocution hazard. Thermometers and other temperature-regulating devices must be calibrated, or you risk working with uncontrolled temperatures. Medical labs should be especially wary of this, considering many specimens must be kept at certain temperatures to maintain quality. If you let equipment go so far down its lifetime without being recalibrated, it could even malfunction and cause injury. Preventing injuries is the number one priority once you enter the lab space, and maintaining your equipment is one of these preventative measures.
Now that we have explored what happens when you don’t calibrate your lab equipment, we hope you better understand why calibration is so important in the laboratory. All these warnings also serve as a look into the benefits of calibration as well. For example, this process helps you ensure accurate results, helps your laboratory stay certified and up-to-date with procedures, saves money on materials and equipment costs, and prevents accidents and injury. If you don’t already, we suggest starting regular inspections and checks of all your equipment. Schedule calibration check-ins at regular intervals even before you see any measurement differences for preventing damage.
And if you discover any damage to your equipment during your inspections, you can find adequate replacements here at USA Lab Equipment. Through our online shop, you can buy lab equipment online for convenient access to all your lab tool needs.