May 17, 2022
Calibrating test equipment is important to maintain measurement accuracy. Unfortunately, often times it can slip past the recommend 12 months, which in turn, allows measurement accuracy drift to occur. Such a scenario can become more problematic with high-end instruments used in R&D and manufacturing, as well as those utilizing the latest technology and supporting higher frequencies.
Due to the importance of calibration as it relates to measurement accuracy, using the instrument Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to conduct the annual service reaps benefits that can save time and money. It also gives engineering teams greater confidence in their product’s performance.
In a previous post, we outlined the types of calibration. Today, we explain the benefits of OEM calibrations compared to having them performed by a third-party lab. We should note there are some instances when a third-party may be necessary and more efficient. Examples include a facility that uses equipment from multiple vendors and/or the instruments (i.e. power supplies, signal generators, handheld analyzers) do not require stringent calibration processes. For all other scenarios, however, there are distinct advantages to using an OEM.
Understanding Hidden Costs
Realizing the capabilities and types of testing that can be conducted by the facility is key to making the best decision when it comes to calibrations. Third-party labs conduct basic Go/No Go testing. Such a procedure begs the question, “What happens when my instrument fails?”
If the instrument fails, the third-party typically ships it to the manufacturer. In this scenario, there are added costs compared to working with the OEM directly, as it will be necessary to mark up the manufacturer’s price to account for their role. The time without the instrument is also extended, due to the fact that the third-party is now acting as the intermediary. They ship the instrument to the manufacturer, and then receive it back before returning it to the customer.
Unnecessary expense can also be incurred if the test capabilities of the facility lead to results that are not truly understood. Misdiagnosis caused by looser pass/fail standards leads to unnecessary repairs. This is particularly true for higher-end instruments, such as those used in R&D.
Understanding the importance of protecting customers’ investments and regular maintenance, some OEMs, such as Anritsu, offer service agreements with price-locks so exact product lifecycle maintenance costs can be better managed. Additionally, repair or full-service agreements are available that can create a discount on calibrations, in some instances.
Why Calibrations by the OEM are Important
Selecting the instrument OEM for calibration may have a higher initial price tag but ultimately is worth the investment. The OEM conducts more comprehensive testing by instrument experts to create greater confidence in equipment performance.
Anritsu offers accredited calibrations that meet the requirements of the ISO/IEC 17025 and ANSI/NCSL Z540-1/Z540-3 that are “General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.” This certification covers the specific calibration listed on the agreed scope of accreditation.
Expert Staff – OEMs will also have long-tenured staff who are highly experienced and knowledgeable about the equipment they are working on. For example, Anritsu’s repair and calibration staff has a mean average of nearly 10 years. Plus, they are factory trained with expertise in Anritsu products, following factory approved procedures. Access to engineering teams who developed instruments can also create more effective calibration processes.
Prevent Future Problems – As a result of the more thorough inspection, those experts can see potential problems that may occur over the short-term, even though the instrument is performing within spec during the calibration process. So, necessary corrections can be made before major measurement inaccuracies begin to occur. Given calibrations are done annually, this can reap major benefits.
Emerging Designs Need Calibrated Instruments
Using an OEM for calibrations is particularly important for R&D and manufacturing of emerging technologies. Engineers in these fields need measurement stability for confidence in product designs.
"OEMs provide a premium level of calibration to satisfy complex design measurements."
For example, mobile devices have been operating in the cellular bands for decades, so there is an abundance of historical data to use as a reference to determine measurement accuracy. There is no historical data to reference when measuring 5G device performance. Therefore, it is vital to make sure the instrument is perfectly calibrated to make sure there is no measurement drift.
OEMs provide a premium level of calibration to satisfy complex design measurements. It provides verification that the instrument meets or exceeds all of its published specifications, necessary adjustment procedures are executed as outlined in the operation and maintenance manual for that model, and test data taken and recorded before and after any necessary adjustments.
Anritsu can conduct calibration and equipment repair either on-site or at a service center. To learn more or schedule calibration, visit the dedicated Repair and Calibration page.