Audits

A Complete Guide to Equipment Calibration

Klipspringer’s Laboratory Manager Explains Lead Times, The Calibration Process, and More…

When it comes to equipment calibration, striking the balance between speed, thoroughness, and efficiency is crucially important.

Every year without fail, food businesses lose thousands in revenue when equipment is returned for calibration. Downtime forces production to slow, resulting in wasted labour, a depleted inventory, and a bottleneck in work.

At the other end of the scale, uncalibrated equipment is an even riskier alternative. It leaves food businesses at risk of low-quality products, non-compliant manufacturing or service processes, and unsatisfied customers.

Calibrations are a complex process - but ensuring their timeliness is essential for food businesses

With an in-house UKAS laboratory that oversees more than 10,000 calibrations annually, we are regularly asked a range of questions about equipment calibration, from the process of recalibrating equipment to the factors impacting lead times.

Based on an interview between Radek Tameczka (our Laboratory Manager) and Alex Blair (our Content Lead), this article answers the following FAQs:

What is calibration and why is it important?

How often should I calibrate my equipment?

How do I return my equipment for calibration?

How long should the calibration process take?

Which equipment types need calibrating?

Radek Tameczka, Laboratory Manager at Klipspringer

What is calibration and why is it important?

Drawing on his 15 years’ experience in the industry, Radek pointed out a key misconception surrounding calibration. “Calibration is often mistaken to mean adjustment. That’s not always the case. In many instances, calibration means verification of what the instrument reads at a very specific point.”

For example, a thermometer calibration involves a verified analysis of its temperature accuracies. Most laboratories verify the thermometer’s accuracy at three different temperature points, such as -18°C, 0°C, and 100°C.

If the instrument is adjustable, then the calibration process can involve modifications. If it is not adjustable, equipment is returned with a calibration certificate stating any divergence, such as -18.2°C, 0.3°C, and 100.5°C.

UKAS calibration certificate

The importance of this cannot be overstated. Yes, certification proves that your instruments are traceable to a UKAS-accredited standard – in Klipspringer’s case, international standard ISO/IEC17025. Calibration certificates also enhance company adherence to food safety standards and are one of the most common requests made by assessors during audits.

But, most crucially, certificates also explicitly demonstrate the exact accuracy of an instrument. Neither subjectivity nor error are tolerable when it comes to food compliance. Customer safety is at risk – particularly with temperature, where the difference between safe and unsafe food could be as little as one degree.

How often should I calibrate my equipment?

In conversation with Radek, he outlined four specific factors that determine the necessary frequency of calibration. These are:

1) Equipment type

In general, most equipment requires consistent calibration, although, logically, certain types of instruments require recalibration on a more regular basis than others. Humidity meters, refractometers, and callipers are all examples of instruments that should be frequently recalibrated.

2) Usage

A general rule of thumb here: as a piece of equipment receives more use, the frequency of its calibrations must increase proportionately. For example, thermometers are usually expected to be calibrated at least once a year – but Radek says some food businesses send their units in for calibration every 4-6 months because their usage is so high.

3) Likelihood of readings changing without recalibration

For equipment which sees regular shifts in readings, more frequent calibration is required. These might include data or process loggers. Conversely, it is not as essential to repeatedly recalibrate instruments which maintain the accuracy of readings for longer.

4) Capacity to calibrate the equipment on-site

Some food businesses are able to calibrate their equipment on-site. For instruments like pH and conductivity meters – which are expected to be calibrated daily – it makes sense to keep the majority of these verifications in-house, with occasional external confirmations.

Radek underlined the importance of an external validation procedure to confirm that units are still working within their specification. Cross-checking confirms in-house calibrations and drives compliance.

In a recent conversation with Ben Foster, an Equipment Engineer at Pharma, Radek was told that they calibrate their pH meters in-house every day. However, for traceability and good practice, Pharma also sends all pH meters to a third-party at least once a year to confirm these readings and ensure the highest safety standards.

While it is impossible to provide an exact calibration timeline for all scenarios, a quick appraisal of your equipment based on those four factors should give you an approximate idea of how often you should calibrate your instruments. If you want a more personalised idea, feel free to contact our Calibration Team: 01473 461800.

How do I return my equipment for calibration?

The below outline is based on our internal calibration process at Klipspringer, overseen by Radek as Laboratory Manager.

Calibrations that fall within the UKAS-specified -30°C to 150°C range are always carried out internally, according to the following procedure:

1) After communicating with the team and raising a quotation, the customer sends their equipment to our laboratory

2) This equipment is booked in; the customer is sent an email confirmation, specifying exactly what the lab team is going to do with the equipment

3) If the equipment is booked in for UKAS calibration, customer will receive an email with confirmation of temperature point the unit will be calibrated at

4) A lab technician is designated to the task – they either begin the calibration immediately, or carry out any necessary technical repair beforehand

5) Equipment sent in for UKAS calibration will need to be stabilised at an ambient temperature of 20°C ±4 for up to 24 hours before performing the calibration

6) Once repaired and/or calibrated, a certificate is issued to the customer and uploaded to the Audit Portal

7) The lab job is passed onto the Service Team, who send an email quotation to the customer to confirm any final details

8) Following customer approval, equipment is returned to the customer, usually on the same day, or at least within three working days

A calibration laboratory

How long should the calibration process take?

Defined as the time elapsed between the start and end of the calibration process, calibration lead time is a crucial metric in the food industry used to calculate how quickly and efficiently your equipment can be calibrated, returned, and operating once more.

By making enquiries among our customers, we ascertained that, on average, most companies in the industry operate with calibration lead times of 4-7 days. Sometimes these turnaround times are as lengthy as 2-3 weeks!

According to Radek, there is no hard-and-fast rule for lead times. But there are two factors that markedly influence lead times: the number of calibration orders at any one time, and the resources available to manage them.

The Klipspringer Lab

It is also true that some companies simply prioritise calibrations more than others. When asked why Klipspringer are able to guarantee that all in-house calibrations are fully completed within three working days, Radek replied:

“We have several skilled lab workers constantly on the calibrations, completing each with meticulous attention. It comes down to efficiency and experience.”

Which equipment types need calibrating?

In short, the stringent compliance regulations of the food service and production industries necessitate regular verification of the majority of equipment used in kitchens, warehouses, and production lines. This is particularly true since the BRCGS announced Issue 9 of the Global Standards in Food Safety, auditable from 1 February 2023.

Below is a comprehensive list of various instrumentation types that Radek stipulated as requiring consistent calibration.

Temperature

  • Data Loggers
  • Process Loggers
  • Liquid ‘In-Glass’ Thermometers
  • In-House Thermometer Verifiers (also known as Temperature Simulators)

Meters

  • pH and Conductivity Meters
  • Reflectometers (measure the reflectivity of objects)
  • Anemometers (measure the speed of wind or gas currents)
  • Refractometers (measure the index of refraction)

Humidity

  • Handheld Units
  • Loggers
  • Dry-Block Calibrators

Other

  • Callipers (measure the dimensions of an object)
  • Scales and Weights
  • Oil Quality Measurement
  • Hygiene Monitors

Radek emphasised that, while this list encompasses most of the instrumentation most frequently calibrated at Klipspringer’s in-house lab, it is not exhaustive – other types of equipment will also need calibration.

If you’re unsure about anything calibration-related, please contact our customer service team at: 01473 461800. A member of our team will consult one of our Calibration Experts about your specific requirements, before giving you all the relevant information.

Alternatively, you can read another research-led article we wrote detailing how to understand your UKAS calibration certificate.


Klipspringer to Sponsor BRCGS Food Safety Europe Conference 2023

What is the Food Safety Europe Conference?

We are delighted to announce that, as a BRCGS partner organisation, Klipspringer will be returning to sponsor this year’s Food Safety Europe Conference (FSEC).

Curated to enhance European food safety management across retail, food service, and manufacturing environments, the FSEC is an exemplar industry event. It provides a platform for leading figures to pool their knowledge, resulting in invaluable insights and feedback for attendees.

The one-day conference will also feature keynote presentations from influential companies including Amazon, Nestle, and Just Eat, alongside decisive regulators such as the Food Standards Agency and, of course, the BRCGS itself. Their newly revised Global Standards for Food Safety Issue 9 will be a topic of hot discussion at the FSEC.

When and where is FSEC23, and how much does it cost?


Date: Wednesday 1st February

Time: 8:00am–5:00pm

Location: Etc Venues, 133 Houndsditch, Liverpool Street, London, EC3A 7BX

Price: £330-£1,170 (depending on ticket type) – use the code KLIP20 for a 20% discount on your ticket registration price here.


FSEC23 – Ones to watch

There are numerous presentations and panel sessions at this year’s FSEC which look highly promising. Below, we’ve outlined a few which caught our eye…

08:45–9:10am: Outlining Amazon’s Approach to Food Safety

Delivered by John Michael Piggott, EU Head of Food Safety, this keynote speech will undoubtedly be a strong start to the conference. It is likely to contain important information regarding the food safety assurances required by the world’s largest online retailer, who are now branching into food delivery.

09:35–10:15am: Horizon Scanning to Determine and Plan for Potential Food Safety Challenges

Following a year plagued by supply chain issues caused by war, fuel costs, and climate change-driven weather, experts from Waitrose, Barilla, and the Food Standards Agency will discuss lessons from 2022 and forecast challenges for 2023 in what looks set to be an engaging panel debate.

10:50–11:15am: BRCGS Presentation: What is New in Issue 9?

On 1 August 2022, the BRCGS released their latest version of the Global Standards for Food Safety, a global benchmark against which leading companies set their requirements for compliance. This presentation is relevant for those seeking more information on the widely read article our expert team at Klipspringer researched and compiled on the key changes from Issue 8 to Issue 9.

14:50–15:15pm: Microbiology Under the Microscope: New Trends, Tools, and Challenges

Led by John Donaghy, Head of Food Safety, Corporate Operations and Quality Management at Nestle, this afternoon session might perhaps go under some attendees’ radars. However, for those interested in future trends in food production (especially plant-based proteins) it is certainly worth a listen.

These talks are merely the tip of the iceberg. Feel free to browse the full conference agenda here.

For any questions about the Food Safety Europe Conference, our team are more than happy to help, if you contact us at: 01473 461 800.

Interested in attending? Click here to register – and don’t forget that KLIP20 discount code for 20% off!


EHOs and Food Safety Officers: Choosing the Right Equipment

Klipspringer have been privileged to support UK local authorities’ Food Safety Inspectors and Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) for many years.

With the vital role of enforcing hygiene and health legislation, there is no room for compromise in the standards that must be worked to. Klipspringer fully recognises this requirement and, through an unwavering commitment to both accuracy and reliability, enjoys an ongoing, solid partnership with EHOs across the UK and Ireland.

To assist with maintaining the necessary compliance standards, this page details some of Klipspringer’s most popular products and services for EHOs, auditors and inspectors. We can guarantee that these will also be coupled with a first-class customer experience from our friendly, professional support team – standard setting starts here!

– Rapid 2-3 working day turnaround with free equipment returns service

– Certified to UKAS-accredited national standards
– Wide range of instruments including any brand and model of thermometer, humidity meter, loggers and reference weights

– Free reminder service

View calibration optionsDownload your service & calibration return form

– Quickly verify probe and infrared thermometers to a UKAS traceable standard.

– Perfect for daily/weekly checks – start the day with the full confidence that your equipment is functioning correctly!

– Faster and safer than traditional methods, saving valuable time and money.

Find out more

– 2-part reference thermometer for rapid infrared surface checks, complete with a folding probe for further investigation when required

– Available for same-day dispatch, with or without calibration certification

“We have chosen to equip all of our team with this unit, not only because it is small and compact, but it’s also much quicker and safer for our EHO’s to use.  The probe can simply be folded in and out of the unit for a core temperature, whilst the infrared part provides an instant reading without risking cross-contamination from touching different foods.” – Westminster City Council 

Specifications

– Top of the range thermometer, entirely suited for food contact and widely accepted as the standard for manufacturers, fast food outlets and inspectors.

– UKAS-calibrated waterproof unit with penetration probe, also supplied with protective carry case and wipes

– Available for same-day despatch, with or without UKAS calibration certification

View kit details

– Stainless steel reference weights to M1 standard

– Each weight supplied in serial-numbered case for storage

– Initial and ongoing UKAS calibration service available

View options and pricing

– The monitor provides an accurate and objective indication of oil quality, avoiding significant health risks and poor product quality arising from the over-use of cooking oil for fried food.

– Reduces food oil waste by up to 52%.

View more details

Your Online Klipspringer Experience: The Complete Guide

Welcome this short overview guide on using your online web portal at www.klipspringer.com.

We will be regularly adding tutorial videos on everything from creating your online account to managing your equipment calibrations, so be sure to check back for more updates!

By paying attention to the following simple points, you will maximise the lifetime of your electrode and also improve the accuracy of your measurement readings.

Read on to find out how. ​

Whether you’re a new or existing Klipspringer customer, this step-by-step video takes you through creating and accessing your Klipspringer web account – the first step to accessing numerous useful account features.

Watch the tutorial here

Save time for you and your team by creating quotes, ordering online and saving your favourite products for re-ordering.  Watch this video guide to see how!

Watch the tutorial here

Find out how easy it is to view and download compliance certificates for the products you have purchased from Klipspringer in your Audit Portal. Just watch this quick 2-minute video to find out more.

Watch the tutorial here

View and download calibration certificates, access useful dates, and add equipment items at any time – watch our overview video on all the benefits and features your Equipment & Calibrations Portal has to offer.

Watch the tutorial here

Watch the below tutorial for a concise, in-depth guide of how to save time on order lists.

Watch the tutorial here

Understanding Your UKAS Calibration Certificate

Your UKAS Accredited Calibration Certificate – what does it mean?

When your temperature or humidity device arrives back from Klipspringer’s calibration laboratory, it will accompanied by a certificate. Do you and your team understand the information you are being presented with and how it relates to your instruments?

Using the example below, this blog will guide you through each element of the certificate along with how and where the information is applicable.

Key

A.  The address where the calibration was completed. In this case it was in our UKAS accredited Laboratory. If the calibration had been completed on a customer’s site, their site address would be entered here.
B.The official UKAS mark, detailing the laboratory’s accredited number at the bottom.  Details of the schedule for each lab can be obtained from the UKAS website using this code. This symbol also demonstrates that the calibration is traceable to the UK’s national standard.
C.The date the calibration certificate was issued.
D.The unique certificate number.
E.The name of the person who approved the calibration result.
F.The due date of the next calibration; this can only be entered if requested in advance by the customer.
G.The signature of E.
H.The name of the person or company requesting the calibration.
I.The address of the person or company requesting the calibration.
J.The unique serial number of the IUT (Instrument Under Test) which has been calibrated.
K.Where the IUT has a detachable probe or sensor etc, this is the unique serial number for this. When this item does not already have a unique number applied, then this will be the serial number of the IUT with the suffix “A” afterwards. Please note, Klipspringer are able to IndeliMark a serial number onto probe handles for permanent and food-safe identification.
L.The description of the IUT. In some cases, this will also detail any damage to the device on arrival to Klipspringer, or where any adjustment has been made after customer authorisation.
M.The date the IUT was received into the laboratory for calibration.
N.The date the IUT was calibrated.
O.The temperature, humidity or pressure (where applicable) within the laboratory when the IUT was calibrated.
P.The range requested for calibration by the customer.
Q.The method and equipment used to carry out calibration of the IUT.
R.Any specific requirements, such as the depth of the probe in the calibration bath.
S.The temperature or humidity tested against.
T.The actual result of the IUT. A figure different to column S shows that the IUT is reading slightly higher or lower and this is the correction factor. E.g. IUT above is reading 40.10°C @ 40.00°C therefore the correction factor is -0.1, The correction factor should be applied when using the IUT, especially where the device is either to be used for monitoring a CCP (Critical Control Point), or where it is used to check the accuracy of other devices which will be used for monitoring CCP’s. If the calibration certificate relates to an in-house calibrator machine (ECMP4, 8 or 12), this will be an average across the ports.
U.This is the uncertainty of measurement of the calibration. Measurements cannot be absolute and even with the most expensive equipment and controlled environments there is always a degree of variation. The uncertainty value printed on the calibration certificate will have taken several factors into consideration, such as repeatability of result, linearity, atmosphere, equipment being used etc. to give a figure which covers all of these variabilities. An uncertainty measurement allows you to have a high level of confidence in your results. For example, @ 40.00°C the certificate states the IUT reads at 40.10°C, with an uncertainty budget of ± 0.13°C, so your results will confidently be between 39.97 and 40.23°C*.
V.This statement details the ‘k factor’, e.g. k=2. The ‘k factor’ is a statistical calculation for how often the uncertainty will be ± 0.13 °C. When k = 2 you would be safe to assume that 95% of the time the device reading will have an uncertainty of ± 0.13 °C.

* We recommend that you incorporate both the correction factor and the uncertainty value into the operation of your device, to ensure the readings reflect the accuracy required. Where your device has only 1 decimal point, then you should round down or up depending on the combined figure, e.g. 0.13 would be ± 0.1 °C.

Klipspringer’s uncertainty budgets are reviewed frequently and against each other when reference instruments return from UKAS calibrations. As our uncertainty values are low, our customers can achieve the best possible result and be confident when using their calibrated equipment.