To be an expert in instrument calibration in San Francisco, you need to understand some terms. This article looks at some essential terminologies in calibration, helping you read and understand calibration while improving your trade. Let’s get into it.

Important terms in Instrument Calibration

Here are the most important terms used in calibration.


It is the degree to which a measurement conforms to a standard value. It is traceable to national or international standards, with room for nonlinearities and uncertainties. There are different types of accuracy, namely:

  • Short-term accuracy: It is the limit that errors cannot exceed within 24 hours. It does not accept adjustments or zeroing.
  • Transfer accuracy: It compares almost equal measurements within a set temperature and time rate.
  • Calibration accuracy: The total of nonlinearities and uncertainties during a calibration process. It should be better than the initial accuracy.
  • Initial accuracy: It is the accuracy set during shipment.
  • Long-term/stability accuracy: The measurement forecast for worst-case error over one year. To get the worst-case error after a year, you add stability accuracy with initial accuracy.


It is the slightest measurable change that a sensor can display. A high resolution indicates the slightest displayable change, hence high resolution.

High-resolution sensors can display millimeters, which is more accurate. Small-resolution sensors can display whole centimeters, which is less accurate.


Accreditation is the process of independent agencies verifying the technical capability and quality system of a calibration lab. Popular accreditations include ISO 9001 and ISO/IEC 17025.

Test conditions

These facts and assumptions describe the instrument, environment, and measured sample. It comprises frequency, humidity, power, temperature, and others. Conditions help experts predict the outcome of an experiment or work at hand.


Repeatability measures how close a result is relative to other measurements by the same device under the same conditions. Both short- and long-term repeatability are essential. As such, if you place a weight of 100g on a scale five times, the scale should indicate 100g each time.


It is the process of tracing a measurement from the source it has been derived, for example, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States. Contrary to popular belief, the measuring equipment is not traceable. Only the measurement result is traceable to a specific standard.

Full scale (FS)

The full scale is the maximum deviation from zero. For example, in a range of -2 to +2, the full scale is 2. Instruments quote precision as a percentage of full scale or span. If the precision is cited as a percentage of span, the same error will be smaller than if quoted as a percentage of full scale (FS).

For example, if the error is +/-1 mbar and the unit range is -1 bar to +1 bar, the error as a percentage of full scale is 0.1%, while the span is 0.05%.


Capacitance is the ability of an instrument to store electrical charge. As you’d expect, most instruments have a degree of capacitance. Capacitors take enormous energy and time to charge, reducing the time it takes a sensor to turn on or off.

Limits of the permissible error

It is the maximum value of error that a manufacturer, regulator, and other agencies permit for a measuring instrument.

Differential pressure sensor

A differential pressure sensor measures the pressure difference between two points connected on either end of the sensor.


American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) is a non-profit organization accrediting calibration and testing laboratories.

Calibration certificate

It is a report that contains an instrument’s calibration information. It shows the quality and measurement accuracy of the said device. The certificate is based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards. It contains customer details, the certificate’s identification code, and the name.

Calibration frequency

It is a preset time interval at which lab instruments are calibrated. Factors such as environmental conditions and instrument usage affect calibration frequency. It should be increased if:

  • A measurement error could lead to safety or quality issues.
  • The measuring instrument exceeds the tolerance limit.

It should be decreased if:

  • The measuring instrument is used in non-critical processes.
  • The tools meet calibration standards for an extended period.

Best straight line (BSL)

It is the process of producing a straight line between different data points. Instead of joining the first to the last point, the technique uses all data points. The position of the line of best fit is calculated by minimizing the sum of squares of all the errors, expressed as a percentage of the full-scale value.

Importance of calibration

Improves production efficiency

An efficient production process ought to be error-free, and one way to do it is to calibrate your equipment. Lack of proper calibration can cause you to produce substandard products, leading to fines or closure.

On the other hand, producing more than enough can lead to wastage, reducing your profit margin. Calibrating your equipment ensures you make the right amount of products using the right ingredients or components.

Enables you to stay compliant

Whether you are in the food or pharmaceutical industry, there exist regulations you ought to comply with. Some of the most popular regulatory bodies include Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

And to ensure you comply with their regulations, you must use equipment with proper calibration. It also improves the safety of the consumer. The FDA might check to see if a drug-producing company is using the right chemicals.

EPA deals with emissions regulations; to comply; you need equipment that can accurately measure emissions.

Improves safety

Calibration allows you to achieve precise measurements, which are crucial in most production systems. Companies producing hypersensitive products such as batteries and phones require actual calibration equipment to protect their employees from fatal accidents. It also ensures the final products are safe for use under different conditions.

Increases return on investment (ROI)

Regardless of your industry, calibration can either break or build your company. For example, if you heat water to produce products, you could use billions of gallons per year. Electricity bills can skyrocket with incorrect calibration of your thermometers, leading to more losses than profits.

Proper calibration will help improve production, save costs, and increase profitability. Biotechnical Services can calibrate your equipment professionally so you can increase your profit margins.

Improve customer satisfaction

If your production is inconsistent, your San Francisco customers will likely buy from your competitors. It does hurt not only your revenue but also the reputation of your company.

To maintain consistency and keep customers satisfied, you need to use the same amount of ingredients and production system. And to achieve this, you need accurate equipment calibration.

Minimize downtime

Inaccurate calibration not only ruins products and damages equipment. And in case of equipment breakdown, you are sure to experience downtime. You should consult an instrument calibration company in San Francisco to prevent this. They can help identify problems and offer solutions.

Best practices for instrument calibration in San Francisco

To avoid unforeseen disruption and losses, you should observe the following instrument calibration practices.

Be proactive

Avoid waiting for the predetermined time to calibrate. Most companies will conduct calibration once or twice a year, which is ideal for most instruments. However, critical safety devices should be calibrated regularly may be quarterly.

A perfect example is gas detectors. They play a crucial role in the safety of a plant, and should there be a slight drift in their calibration, it might lead to explosions.

Random calibration outside the annual schedule can help technicians identify and correct defects, saving companies from huge losses.

Monitor sensors regularly

Most companies in San Francisco will set their sensors and forget to monitor them periodically. While sensors are reliable, many factors and variables can hinder their effectiveness. As such, we recommend regular monitoring to identify and correct calibration issues.

Document your calibration efforts

To remain compliant with regulations, you need to document any calibration efforts. With correct labeling, regulatory bodies will certify and verify your company.

Consult an expert

If you don’t have in-house experts, you should consider consulting instrument calibration companies in San Francisco. They check every instrument, ensuring proper calibration. Biotechnical Services offers instrument calibration in San Francisco and adjacent counties.

We are an accredited company with over 20 years of experience, serving different industries such as pharmaceutical, food and beverage, aerospace, and others. Call us for professional instrument calibration in San Francisco.