Top 5 Reasons to Calibrate your NI Hardware


At one time or another everyone has heard that calibration is important. Quality policies require it, government agencies mandate it, and international standards bodies oversee it. However, for all the attention that it generates, understanding why calibration is such a big deal can sometimes be difficult. The benefits of calibrating regularly and the costs of not calibrating can sometimes be hidden or far removed from the calibration process. So, to help explain why calibration is so very important, NI has assembled the top 5 reasons to calibrate your NI hardware.


Accuracy Matters

Do you want to take measurements or estimates? Whether testing components on a production line or monitoring the performance of a wind turbine, you should be confident in your measurements. Electronic components naturally drift over time, which can cause uncertainty in your measurements. Calibration helps to ensure the accuracy of your measurements and allows you to compare the performance of your device with published specifications.

Production Yields are Important

Can you afford to throw good products away? Two production issues that can drive down your yields are:

False Passes - instances where inaccurate measurements cause a bad unit to appear to pass a test.  A “false pass” can be very dangerous, especially if your product guides a missile or monitors a patient’s heart rhythms.

False Failures -  an equally expensive problem , false failures describes the case where a good unit appears to fail a test. These “false failures” may require more extensive (and expensive) testing and additional time for rework.

Calibrating your instruments helps maximize your production yields by eliminating both “false failures” and “false passes”.

Compliance with Standards

Are you required to calibrate? Many larger or more heavily regulated industries follow international standards that require calibration. From general Quality Management Systems, like ISO 9001, to requirements specifically targeted toward testing and calibration laboratories, like ISO/IEC 17025, there are a number of standards that dictate why and how you calibrate. Make sure that you are following applicable standards and avoid hefty penalties by selecting the right type of calibration.

Downtime is Expensive

What does it cost if your system breaks? When deploying your systems, it is important to keep in mind the difference between planned downtime for maintenance and unplanned downtime that may require you to shut down your production line or send a technician into the field.  By taking advantage of less expensive planned downtime to calibrate your system, you can help avoid more expensive unplanned downtime due to your product being out of calibration.

Traceability Ensures Comparability

How do you know that your measurement is the same as everyone else? By comparing all measurements to a single unit, or the international system of units (SI), you can be confident that your measurement matches your neighbor. The property of traceability, “…whereby the result [of a measurement] can be related to a reference through a documented unbroken chain of calibrations...”[1] helps you make these comparisons. By calibrating through methods that maintain traceability, you can know that your measurement will stand the test of time.

Clearly calibration is an important part of maintaining your measurement hardware. By calibrating regularly you can save time and money, and make sure that you are meeting all the requirements of your project.

NI has a number of calibration solutions to help meet your needs. NI provides calibration services that are traceable to international standards (NIST, PTB, etc) and can help you maintain compliance to a variety of quality standards including ISO/IEC 17025 and ANSI/NCSL Z540.1. In addition to these services, NI provides manual calibration procedures and automated calibration software specifically designed for use by metrology laboratories.


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