The Hidden Benefits of a Reliable Furnace Calibration Process10 September 2020 / News
The benefits of a reliable furnace calibration extend well beyond compliance. Cost savings through enhanced energy efficiency, increased productivity through shorter processing times, improved equipment reliability and greater machine utilisation are just some of the benefits delivered by a plant operating correctly, efficiently and above all accurately.
In the current environment, businesses around the world are scrutinising these metrics in an attempt to improve efficiency, reduce expenditure and remain profitable. Whenever a furnace calibration is carried out, all these benefits are within reach. So how can they be achieved?
Read on to discover the three components of a higher standard of furnace calibration and how you can meet it.
HOW TO TAKE YOUR FURNACE CALIBRATION PROCESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Quality and maintenance managers wanting to achieve these efficiencies require a high standard of furnace calibration. How can they qualify this? We believe an accurate, reliable furnace calibration procedure can be broken down into three key elements:
You have the right people for the job
If they carry out the calibration themselves, are the people performing the calibration competent to do so? In this context, competency is a much higher bar than it sounds. A competent engineer not only knows enough to start doing the work but they also understand when to stop before creating more problems.
“Think of it in terms of rewiring a plug socket: someone who is not competent might know enough to change the wire, but they might also end up pulling the socket off the wall and fusing the house.”
An engineer competent in furnace calibration procedures is trained, experienced and up to date with advances in the industry and changes in regulatory standards and equipment.
Your equipment is reliable
Performing an effective calibration requires well-controlled equipment. This is essential to meet standards and achieve the measurement uncertainties expected.
What is the equipment’s history? This will determine how much it can be relied upon. Older equipment can actually be more valuable because it has a record behind it evidencing its accuracy.
“Some equipment might even perform better than the manufacturer’s specifications, reducing uncertainty and providing more reliable results.”
On the flip-side, its history could reveal a known error in the equipment. This might be acceptable for use when calibrating to some standards because the error is known and can be corrected for. Other standards may specify error limits, in which case alternative equipment would have to be used.
You are confident in the quality of the systems supporting the work being performed
This covers the procedures being followed, the engineers, and the equipment they are using. Making sure that the work being done is what is required by the customer and compliance requirements are agreed. Is the process repeatable, time after time? Can you prove traceability to National Standards (or is it UKAS accredited)?
THE IMPORTANCE OF A RELIABLE FURNACE CALIBRATION PROCEDURE
Every new furnace has to be calibrated before it can be used. However, if the user wants to maintain confidence in the furnace’s performance then they will continue to calibrate it, with adjustment (and re-calibration) as necessary. Then there are some standards that specify how often a furnace is calibrated, as well as the customers’ own technical requirements.
This frequency of furnace calibrations can cause friction within the manufacturing process, particularly when there are multiple furnaces/sites involved.
“Engineering teams can find themselves under pressure, which can lead to shortcuts being taken and many of the benefits of the furnace calibration process being missed. In worst-case scenarios, the integrity of the calibration could be at risk.”
When this pressure builds, it can make sense — both financially and procedurally — to approach a reputable and impartial calibration provider like Vacuum Furnace Engineering (VFE) for external support.
CAN THE PERSON CARRYING OUT THE CALIBRATION FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS THEMSELVES, OR DO THEY NEED EXPERT SUPPORT?
With the largest team of skilled heat treatment engineers in Western Europe, we guarantee our customers that the people calibrating their furnaces are both competent and experienced. Because every furnace calibration we carry out is traceable to national standards, our customers can have confidence in the quality of the work performed. Many procedures are able to be performed under the scope of our UKAS accredited lab, meaning our customers can have confidence in the results (and won’t need to chase certificates for equipment traceability).
Furnace calibration is essential for ensuring your heat treatment equipment is safe to use, but it can also deliver a wide range of other benefits. Whether you review your internal capabilities or you reach out to us for fast, expert support, we can’t think of a better reason to ensure the accuracy and reliability of your furnace calibration process going forward.
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