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From spreadsheets to calibration software

Regularly calibrating your measurement equipment is the best way to ensure that the measurements ultimately meet the accuracy requirements. What are the benefits of calibration software and what should you consider when switching to calibration software?

Calibration software

Measuring instruments come in many types and designs. They play a vital role in various business and production processes. Consider, for example, sensors for measuring pressure, temperature, and flow in the process industry. Or geometric measuring equipment and torque wrenches in mechanical engineering.

All these sensors and measurement equipment have a deviation or measurement uncertainty that must be taken into account. Requirements can be set for this from the viewpoint of quality, safety, environment, or productivity. Sometimes these requirements are based on legislation, but often the company's own quality system or agreements with a customer are leading.

Regularly calibrating the measurement equipment is the best way to ensure that the measurements ultimately meet the accuracy requirements. An important consideration when calibrating is documenting the calibration data. These should be recorded in such a way that they can easily beused for demonstrating compliance, but these data can also be used formonitoring maintenance or optimizing certain processes.

Documentation is often still done using manual processing in spreadsheets or other programs that do not capture the entire calibration process. Maintaining spreadsheets is laborious and thus prone to human error and often time consuming. Modern calibration software helps professionalize your calibration processes by removing the limitations of spreadsheets and adding useful functionalities. What are the benefits of calibration software and what should you consider when switching to calibration software?

The downsides of spreadsheets

Until today, the measurement results of a calibration are often written down with pen and paper during the measurement. The data is then manually retyped on the computer and possibly further processed in various programs. This ultimately creates a large archive of calibration data, some of which is often still on paper. Sometimes the data are entered directly into a spreadsheet, but in addition the calibration date is kept in a separate system.

The first disadvantage of this working method is that it is labor intensive and requires a lot of manual actions. At a time when labor is expensive and it is difficult to find suitable personnel, you want to make processes less labor-intensive. Many manual actions also increase the chance of making mistakes.

A second drawback is that spreadsheet management is laborious. It is easy to make a copy of a spreadsheet and send it on. This creates multiple versions. After a longer period of time, it is often difficult to determine which version is the most recent, there is also a risk that information must be kept current in multiple places and even in different systems. This applies not only to performing the calibration, but also to tracking and scheduling it.

A third drawback is that the information is no longer easily accessible. Looking up a specific certificate often takes a lot of time. Also, making a historical trend analysis, is often not even done, because it takes too much time to collect this data, because not all information can be accessed in a central location.

Spreadsheets also have advantages. The advantage of a spreadsheet is that you have a lot of freedom to add data or perform special calculations as you see fit. This strength is often also a weakness, because it takes a lot of time and attention to set this up properly, there are often loose ends.

Calibrate easier, better, and faster with calibration software

Technology is constantly improving and so is calibration software. With good calibration software you will not suffer from the disadvantages spreadsheets have and you will be helped to set up the calibration process efficiently and professionally.

How calibration software works

Calibration software can be divided into 2 types. The first kind of software is made specifically for calibration of a particular instrument and is often provided by the manufacturer of the instrument. This software usually limits itself to performing the calibration and storing the measurement data. The second kind is general calibration software, which can be used to perform all kinds of calibrations and collect data. That's what we're talking about here.

This calibration software is specifically designed to be able to both perform the calibration itself, but also manage the calibration data in a simple way. All calibration data is stored in one location, users can then perform calibrations or view and analyze calibration data through a simple interface. After the information of instruments to be calibrated and available reference instruments has been captured, a SOP (standard operating procedure) or calibration protocol is established. With this the calibration is executed and the measured data are also recorded in the software.

In general calibration software you can, among other things:

  • Perform calibrations, collect measurement data, and generate calibration reports.
  • Communicate with measurement equipment in order to automate calibration.
  • Gain an overview of the calibration status of each instrument.
  • Ensure that calibrations are performed on time.

The benefits of calibration software

Completely digital

With modern calibration software you digitize the calibration process. For example, you can print labels with QR codes, if you want to calibrate an instrument, you scan the QR code and immediately end up with the right instrument and can start the calibration. Performing and maintaining calibrations requires as few actions as possible.

Work more efficiently & less error prone

In calibration software, information only has to be entered once and is then available everywhere, so no extra handling is required. This not only saves a lot of time, but also reduces the chance of errors when copying information. Performing the calibration can often be automated, which prevents typing errors, but also warns during calibration when unexpected measurement values are entered manually.

Central information point

When you use calibration software, all relevant data is stored in a central location. You keep track of the current status (when was an instrument last calibrated and what was the result) and can easily retrieve all data, for example showing calibration reports for an audit.

Overview of calibrations

Modern calibration software also allows you to set up dashboards that give you anoverview of calibrations. For example, a technician can see which instrumentsare due for calibration, or an instrument manager can see at a glance how many instruments need to be calibrated next month.

Work according to ISO 17025

Because the software always works in the same way, the basic requirements for recording calibrations are met. For example, measurement data cannot be modified retrospectively, the accuracy of an instrument is taken into account, an audit trail is maintained, and different roles can be assigned.

Historical trends

In modern calibration software, historical data is immediately visible for each instrument. This allows you to determine trends. For example, you can see whether the deviation of an instrument remains very stable or is increasing. You can also see that some instruments are stable for years and suddenly start deviating. You can use this information to adjust the calibration period or investigate whether the instrument is being used correctly.

What to consider if you want to switch

Are you looking to make the move from spreadsheets to calibration software? Then keep the following things in mind:

  1. The basic information that is now in spreadsheets will need to be entered (once) into the calibration software. Therefore, check in advance whether the software has options for uploading information. This way you avoid having to enter everything manually.
  2. Decide what to do with historical data. Historical data in Excel can sometimes be copied, but sometimes it is also good to start with a clean slate. Decide in advance what you prefer.
  3. Make sure that the people who will have to work with the software are well informed, so that they know how to carry out their tasks in the new environment.

Discover the world of calibration software with AutoCal+

Has your organization outgrown calibration with spreadsheets? And are you looking for professional, user-friendly, brand-independent, and affordable software to take your calibration processes to the next level? Then look no further.

With AutoCal+ you benefit from the functionality of modern calibration software :

  • You will digitize thecomplete calibration process. Both performing the calibration and managing the calibrations. This makes it more efficient and
  • AutoCal+ supports the devices you work with every day. For some popular instruments, such as the DPI620/611, FSM DPC, FLUKE 45/46, WIKA CTD9100 and TRAQC-3 FM, we have also developed drivers to make calibration even easier.
  • With AutoCal+ you have acomplete overview of all your instruments in one system.
  • AutoCal+ is flexible to build and fully customizable to your needs.
  • AutoCal+ is the software that fits your needs. Do those change over time? Then simply add users or instruments or adjust your subscription.
  • AutoCal+ is available from as little as € 39.50 per month. It is therefore an affordable and cost-effective solution (the benefits of calibration software ensure a quick return on investment).

Want to experience the features and benefits of AutoCal+ for yourself? No problem at all. Feel free to call us at +31 79 203 31 33 or fill in the contact form.

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