5 Reminders Why Weight Scale Calibration is Crucial to Lab Integrity

The Importance of Weight Scale Calibration

Accurate weighing of materials and goods is an integral part of human history. From the earliest barter systems to contemporary digital technology, scales have been essential for ensuring fair transactions, precise measurements, and consistent quality in various industries. Weight scale calibration is crucial for maintaining this accuracy and reliability. 

This information isn’t unknown to laboratories and researchers, having properly calibrated weighing tools is a requirement for most laboratories. However, labs are busy places and ensuring a facility’s scales and balances are regularly calibrated and can be easily overlooked.

“It’s easy to take for granted the accuracy and precision of everyday laboratory tools, such as analytical balances. Unfortunately, becoming complacent about the care and calibration of a scale can lead to poor outcomes and erroneous data being produced.” Greg Freitag, Director of Sales, Qualer

Let’s review the risks of not keeping your analytical balances and scales properly calibrated and discuss some tips on how to make that process easier and more efficient for your lab.

Why is Balance Calibration Important? 5 Risks of Poor Calibration Practices

1. Ensure Accuracy of Results

When scales deviate from their true calibration, even by a small margin, they can significantly alter the outcome of experiments. This is particularly critical in labs where accurate measurements are essential. 

For instance, in pharmaceutical research, an incorrect dosage determination due to scale errors can lead to incorrect conclusions about a drug’s efficacy or safety. Similarly, in chemical experiments, slight deviations in compound measurements can result in entirely different reactions than expected. 

If an out-of-spec scale is used when preparing calibration curve standards, the resulting data generated will be inaccurate.

Maintaining scale accuracy is fundamental to ensuring the validity and reliability of laboratory measurements.

2. Avoid Quality Control Failures

Inconsistent weight scale calibrations can lead to significant quality control failures. In industries like pharmaceuticals and food production, where ingredients must be measured with high precision, even minor discrepancies can have drastic effects. 

For example, an uncalibrated scale might cause an incorrect amount of an active ingredient to be added to a medication, rendering it ineffective or even harmful. In food manufacturing, inaccurate measurements can affect the taste, texture, and safety of the product, potentially leading to consumer dissatisfaction and health risks. 

Such quality issues can damage a company’s reputation and lead to costly recalls and legal challenges.

3. Reduce Operations and Materials Inefficiencies

Unreliable weight measurements due to poor calibration can lead to increased inefficiencies in both operations and material usage. Inaccurate measurements often result in the overuse or underuse of materials, leading to wastage and additional costs. 

For instance, in a chemical manufacturing lab, an uncalibrated scale might cause excess use of a costly reactant, unnecessarily increasing expenses. In a research setting, repeated experiments due to initial inaccuracies consume more time and resources, slowing down the research process and increasing operational costs. 

Let’s consider the reagent, Palladium, it is used as a catalyst in chemical reactions (Sonogashira coupling, Stille Coupling, Suzuki coupling, etc.) that form carbon bonds. It’s an expensive metal catalyst, and having to restart reactions due to inaccurate weight measurements will result in unwanted use of more Palladium catalyst.

These inefficiencies not only impact the budget but also hinder the overall productivity and effectiveness of the laboratory.

Other helpful articles we think you’ll enjoy:
Why ISO Calibration is Essential to Your Lab’s Integrity
The Importance of Calibration: Avoiding Errors in Measurement
The Details of ISO 8655 in Plain English

4. Manage Health and Safety Risks

Unreliable scales due to inadequate calibration pose significant health and safety risks in laboratories. Inaccurate measurements can lead to dangerous chemical imbalances, increasing the likelihood of hazardous reactions or exposure to toxic substances. 

For example, in a biomedical lab, incorrect dosages of a drug due to scale errors could result in severe adverse effects on patients in clinical trials. Similarly, in a chemical research lab, miscalculations in reactive substance quantities might cause unexpected reactions, posing risks of explosions or toxic releases. 

These scenarios not only endanger lab personnel but also compromise overall lab safety standards.

5. Avoid Credibility and Reputation Damages

The accuracy of a laboratory’s data is paramount to its credibility. Scales that are not regularly calibrated can produce data that starts to drift. This can lead to false acceptance and/or false rejections of weight measurements. This can damage the lab’s reputation. 

For instance, if a research paper is published based on inaccurate data due to balance errors, it could lead to retractions and loss of trust among peers. In the commercial sector, companies relying on lab results for product development might face public backlash and loss of consumer confidence if inaccuracies are discovered. 

Such damages to credibility and reputation can have long-lasting and far-reaching consequences.

Regular calibration ensures that scales produce accurate which is vital for industries ranging from pharmaceuticals to food production, where even minor discrepancies can have significant consequences.

The Importance of Weight Scale Calibration

Tips for Keeping Weight Scales and Analytical Balances Calibrated

Maintaining the accuracy of your laboratory’s scales and balances is crucial for ensuring the integrity of your data. Here are some practical tips to help keep your weighing equipment properly calibrated:

Regular Calibration Schedule

Establish a routine calibration schedule based on the intensity of use, the manufacturer’s recommendations, and the calibration due date. Frequent use typically necessitates more regular calibration. 

Creating a calibration schedule that is based on risk is a great way to determine if analytical balances need more frequent calibration than calibration due dates, or the manufacturer’s minimum requirements. 

For example, keeping a log of the calibration weights and sending out for calibration when the balance starts to drift or produce out of tolerance readings, rather than based on the time-based schedules.

Use of Certified Calibration Weights

Always use a certified and traceable weighing scale calibration standard to ensure accuracy. These weights are designed to meet strict standards and provide reliable calibration results.

Proper handling and storage of these weights are essential. Mishandling can lead to wear and tear, affecting their accuracy. Always use the tongs provided to handle the weights and keep them in an enclosed container, preferable the one they came in.

Labs Are Going Digital. Is Yours Keeping Pace?

Learn how automating asset management processes saves labs time and money.

Request a Free Demo

Professional Calibration Services

Regular calibrations from a professional calibration facility may be necessary to ensure compliance with certain regulations that your facility adheres to. These services should be sourced to a ISO/IEC 17025-accredited laboratory. 

ISO/IEC 17025-accredited labs are required to follow quality and technical requirements that will lower the risk of false acceptance and false rejections of your scale’s measurements during the calibration process. 

An accredited lab performing an accredited calibration will provide a certificate of calibration that includes:

  • A statement of conformity
  • The measurement data
  • And the uncertainty values

Regular professional calibrations can also properly clean and repair your scales as well as help identify potential issues with your instrument before they become problematic.

Training and Awareness

It’s crucial for lab technicians to be aware of how to properly use the different scales in a lab facility and know how to check them for accuracy. Analytical balance measurements can be affected by lab temperature, lab pressure, static charges on the material, and even the technician breathing too close to the balance. 

Some tips to help them understand and adhere to good measuring practices include:

  • Ensure your team knows how to work each type of scale in your lab. For instance, measuring materials on a standard top-loading scale and a micro-analytical digital scale require different operation procedures. 
  • Educate technicians on the importance of checking a balance for accuracy and precision. Create checklists to help them comply.

Record Keeping and Monitoring

Keep detailed records of all calibration activities, including dates, results, and any maintenance performed. This helps in tracking the performance and reliability of your equipment over time.

Implement a digital system to better manage the health, accuracy, and maintenance of your balances and other equipment assets. Be sure to choose one that:

  • Is user-friendly
  • Integrates with existing digital systems
  • Is customizable to a labs unique processes, compliance requirements, and data management workflows
  • Can automate notifications for upcoming calibration services or when a balance is out-of-tolerance
  • Automates capturing of measurements

Manage Analytical Scale Calibration Procedures Seamlessly with Qualer

Managing the calibration of analytical scales and balances is a critical aspect of laboratory work, directly impacting accuracy, safety, and credibility. With a solution like Qualer by your side, you can simplify and streamline this essential process.

Our CMMS is a true cloud system, and is an easy, effective solution to keep every equipment asset in top working condition while meeting compliance requirements.

To learn more about how Qualer can improve your asset calibration processes, or to book a free demo, contact us today.

Get in touch with our experts and get a free consultation

Contact our experts today